Doing what is possible

I did not do the impossible, I just did all that was possible at the time.”  Miklos Nemeth, an economist who became the Prime Minister of Hungary in 1988, was instrumental in bringing down the Iron Curtain which divided Europe during the Cold War. (See BBC article “The man who pulled the Iron Curtain”.)

Sometimes when I’m struggling with depression and anxiety, the mile long to-do list is way too overwhelming and nigh impossible to accomplish. Nemeth’s words bring up all kinds of parallels for my own life, ways to take little steps to get bigger things accomplished.   Time for a list:

  • Make today’s to-do list do-able. Pick 3 small to medium projects that I can actually accomplish, and then tackle them one by one. (Credit for this one goes to a good friend who mentioned this very idea just last night. I’d include her name, but I’ll have to ask her first.)
  • If projects seem too overwhelming, pick 3 small actions/jobs that are do-able and then tackle.
  • If even that seems too difficult, pick ONE job and go for it. Then pick another one.
  • There have been moments where a whole job is too much, and breaking that down further is the only way to get something done. For example, I might pick up 10 things around the house that need to be put away (I am queen of clutter). I might get myself to just start ONE load of laundry. Or just take out the trash. Or clean off the coffee table. Or pick up magazines in one room. Or do dishes for 5 minutes.
  • Even then there are the days where it takes all I can do to get out of bed and brush my teeth. But setting goals that are very small and manageable are critical to getting through the day in one piece.

One final important thought about breaking tasks down into steps that are manageable and do-able. I must, must, must give myself credit for accomplishing even the smallest task. If I beat myself up for not accomplishing something, I feel worse and the guilt cycle starts. If I say to myself, “Hey, you did it. You got something accomplished.”, then I’m being kind to myself. I’m choosing a positive message. I might even be able to tackle the next little thing on the list. And then the next thing.

Peace to you today.