I’ve been thinking a lot about overwhelm lately as I continue this month long series on busyness. Whether or not you have a full calendar you can still feel the heavy-weight-on-your-chest feeling of overwhelm.

I realized in the last week that overwhelm can stem from much more specific feelings. Feeling behind, feeling like a failure, feeling stuck, feeling like you’ll never get where you’re trying to go.

All of those feelings can lead to an even greater sense of overwhelm.

And when I really thought about it I realized that most of those feelings come from not meeting your own expectations.

We live in an age where you are presented with potential possibilities all day long. Just by scrolling through Instagram you see that it’s possible for you to sell everything and travel, advance in your career, get super fit and maybe bake something delicious.

Whether you’re a millennial or not this is an age where possibilities are endless. And if you are a millennial (like me) you grew up hearing that you could do and be anything.

So now (whether you realize it or not) you have extremely high expectations for yourself and your life. And all day long you’re reminded of those high expectations.

And because the expectation to be living a life that combines every single photo you see on Instagram is completely unrealistic, you forced to realize you’re not living up to your own expectations…ON A DAILY BASIS. That’s a lot to handle each day.

So it’s no surprise given that environment that you may feel like a failure at times. Start to feel behind, overwhelmed, or just blah.

When you feel like that I’m guessing you don’t exactly feel motivated to do amazing things with your day.

When you see a six pack on Instagram and then look at your own stomach (which is perfectly fine btw), you feel like you’re a sloth and then decide to watch Netflix instead of working out.

When you follow everyone in your professional field and witness their success on a daily basis you feel lazy or unqualified and decide not to put your name in for that promotion.

When you see 25 travel photos in a row you feel broke and boring so you go shopping after work instead of saving up for your own trip.

What if instead of feeling those blah feelings you felt on top of things, like you were going places, like you had the talent and skills to make shit happen. What if instead of overwhelmed you felt extremely capable?

A few months ago I was listening to Tara Gentile’s podcast when I heard the question;

What makes you feel extremely capable?

It has stayed with me every since.

She talked about how when we feel capable we keep working, we stay motivated and we go for it. Feeling capable lifts us up and propels us forward. It’s one of those emotions that we feel deep down and impacts us in big ways.

Think about that time you finally finished that task that had been giving you anxiety for a while. You felt on top of the world didn’t you? And then you went on to do 3 more things because you were riding the high of completion.

Or that time that you hit publish/send/submit on that piece of work that reflected your best. You were walking tall the rest of the day weren’t you?

Or how about that time you made your bed, fixed a couple broken things around your home, ran a few errands and all of a sudden you felt like you could conquer the world.

You’re capable of a lot, but when you feel capable you’re capable of even more.

You're capable of a lot, but when you FEEL capable, you're capable of even more. Click To Tweet

This all sounds great to me, but you might be wondering exactly how to feel capable when you, well…don’t.

Try this.

Take 60 seconds to think of a few times you felt capable and identify why. What were you doing? What had you just finished? Where were you? Once you pinpoint what makes you feel capable you can move on to the next step.

Look at your calendar for the next week and shift some things around to make sure you do at least one thing that makes you feel extremely capable. The earlier in the day or week that you do it the better. You want to be able to ride that high.

Here’s what makes me feel capable.
  1. Finishing a nagging task like calling a company about a broken item that needs replacing or bringing donation goods to Good Will.
  2. Finding and booking awesome yet affordable lodging for an upcoming trip.
  3. Hitting publish or send on something that I’ve been avoiding.
  4. Going outside.

So if I wanted to ensure I felt capable as early and as often as possible I would rearrange my schedule this week to do these things first. Then I can move on to do even more, because I feel great about myself.

Organizing your agenda to maximize those motivated feelings is a great way to get a lot done, not fall behind and feel significantly less overwhelmed in the process.

So what are you waiting for?

If you want to start feeling more capable right now, head on over to my For The Win page and check out all of the tools, websites and books that help make me feel extremely capable.

Photo by Brooke Cagle // cc

Hey, I'm Katie! I'm an author and daily life designer who teaches millennial women how to approach their daily lives in a way that is sustainable, effective and filled with ease. When I'm not hanging out with my dog Watson, traveling or chilling out with a rerun of Mad Men you can find me interacting with my Break Free From Busy Bootcamp students or sharing daily life strategies for the driven, but busy. Connect with me over on Facebook and Instagram.