You Can’t Course Correct If You’re Standing Still

This is a quote that I have heard some version of a few times in the past 6 months and it has really stuck with me. Let’s think about it in more concrete way…If you park your car and turn off the engine, and then turn the steering wheel, what happens? Nothing. Now if you start the car, press the gas and start moving, then turn the wheel, now you can change the direction you are going.

So, in your life, if you aren’t moving, you can’t alter the course you are on. Where this seems to show up the most,is when we are feeling overwhelmed. I know for me, when I am feeling overwhelmed I almost feel paralysed There are so many things that I need to do and I can’t seem to get started on any of them. You need to get out of the overwhelm so that you can take action, get moving and take control of the direction of your life. So how do you get out of overwhem? Here is one way…

Stay Focussed on the Task at Hand

It’s actually impossible to feel overwhelmed if you’re living in the present moment. So if you’re truly present to what’s going on in your life right now, it is physically impossible to feel overwhelmed. So when you feel overwhelmed, that’s your first indication that you’re not truly being present in the moment because overwhelm comes from thinking about all the things in the future that you need to do.

The future might be 5 minutes away or it might be 15 years away. And I’m not saying that we should never look ahead. Of course, we need to be looking ahead. We need to have an idea of the direction we want our life to go and how we’re gonna get there, and in those moments when you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s not because you’re charting out your life plan. It’s because your brain is being bombarded and bogged down by all these different things that you know that you have to do that you haven’t done yet.

So, pick something, anything, that you need to get done. And while you are doing that task stay focussed only on that task.

Here is an example. You may find yourself reading this blog for a moment or two, but then your brain drifts to thinking about what you’re gonna make for dinner, and that thought leads to your brain creating a virtual shopping list which reminds you that, “Oh, shoot, I have to get gas before I go to the grocery store,” which reminds me that, “Oh, I gotta take the care in for an oil change,” which then reminds you that you’re car’s getting kind of old, maybe you should think about trading it in. “Do we wanna get something bigger, something smaller? I don’t know if I wanna trade it in, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”

So you’ve gone from reading this post to what am I gonna make for dinner to we need to buy an SUV. Does that sound familiar? No wonder you’re feeling overwhelmed. Your brain has so many different things that it’s trying to process all at the same time. So to deal with that, think about only what you’re reading in this post, if we’re using this as our example. If you start to think of something else, grab a piece of paper, quickly write it down and bring your attention back here. So, as the thoughts come in, as you’re reading what I’m sharing with you, if something else pops into your head that’s completely unrelated, write it down, your brain knows that it’s safe, you can come back and then pay attention to the call once again.

Just Do Something

Here’s the thing, you just need to do something. Anything will get you moving. It could be a really small task like putting dirty clothes in the laundry, or it could be a bigger task like filing your taxes. It doesn’t matter, you just have to get into action. And when you’re in action, if you start to feel overwhelmed, remind yourself to only think about the task at hand and when the task is done you can think about all that other stuff.

Once you get something done you start to build momentum and then it is easier to get more things done. Just start moving.


15 thoughts on “You Can’t Course Correct If You’re Standing Still

  • Thank you Bren, for this great motivation. It comes at a time when gief seems to be at he forefront of everything and it colours everything I do. When I read your blog I had just returned from the funeral of a long time friend. I am at a time in my life when I have to reconcile these losses and accept them, as an ever increasing occurrence. Focusing on the task at hand and staying in the moment will most certainly make my life easier. I am grateful for your suggestion.and will put it to work(as soon as I find that long list I started!):.S.S.

    • You are sooo welcome Sue! I love doing this work and it fills me up to know that it is actually helping people out there!

  • First off I want to say great blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was curious to know how you center yourself and
    clear your mind prior to writing. I have had a difficult
    time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out.

    I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost just trying to figure out how to begin.

    Any ideas or hints? Appreciate it!

    • When I’m feeling stuck with writing I just take out a scrap piece of paper and start brainstorming all the different things I could write about. And then from there pick whatever I am most excited to write about. Clears out my head a bit before I write.

  • Yes! Forward movement of any kind is helpful when you are stuck. The first thing that I do when I feel overwhelmed is actually stop. (Stick with me though! I do go forward.) I stop because I want to ground myself to what is currently going on vs all of the different directions my mind is going. So, I stop. I close my eyes and breathe. Inhale 1–2–3. Exhale 1–2–3. I do that 3 times and find that my focus is totally different. That is my first action. Then, when my focus is more clear, I move on with the next task at hand.

    • I think what you really highlighted Stephanie is the need to figure out what works for us as an individual in terms of staying in action. Needing to simply stop and ground yourself sounds like a great strategy. And with everything else in life, there is no one size fits all. Thank you for sharing your process – it just may be the thing that someone reading this post is looking for.

  • Thanks for a great blog, Brenda. I have been feeling so stuck for so long and this weekend I did what you suggested and just starting putting away boxes and boxes of photos and that led to cleaning out some cabinets and closets and now I have piles of things that go to charity garage sales, but it feels good to get some things cleaned out physically, which leads to clearing things psychologically!

    • Yay!!!! I’m so glad that you tried something different and it worked! That’s what it’s all about in my opinion. Just trying different ways of being and living. Keeping the stuff that works great and ditching the rest.

  • What great advice to remember Brenda. The car analogy you started with really did it for me. Great example of the importance of just. simply.moving. period. Anything moves us forward!! Something I learned from someone recently is that it’s OK to fly the plane as you are building it! Your message reinforces this idea for me. Thanks!

    • Yes, flying the plane as you build it is great advice! There is a quote a read a while ago that was something like, if you’re waiting to do something so that it’s so perfect that no one could find fault with it, you’ll never get anything done.

  • Brenda, the other day I was without electricity in the middle of the day. So without my trusty computer, I got out my business notebook (rarely used) and I was able to concentrate delightfully on some very creative ideas for a class, complete with drawings and a whole metaphor to describe it. I don’t wish for the electricity to go out again (I was freezing!), but I really must force myself to focus by peeling myself off the computer!

    • What a great experience Gina! It’s true, creativity on paper is different than behind a keyboard. Can be a refreshing way to look at our work differently.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.