Why Having a Breakdown is a Good Thing

It’s the start of new blogging goodness here at Stratejoy!

We’re bringing back real time stories from real life women.

This time I’m tapping the incredible ladies of my Elevate Mastermind group to share their dreams, fears, successes and failures with the Tribe. Not all of them will be writing (since it’s totally not a requirement of Elevate!), but as I found out at our retreat — over half of them identify as writers! And after getting to known their sassy selves and incredible stories over 4 days in Ojai, I knew we’d all benefit from hearing the ups and downs of their year of ELEVATING!

We’re going on a introduction binge this week — getting you familiar with with the ladies you’ll be hearing from this year.

After that, I’ll be writing early in the week and we’ll be featuring an Elevate Writer each Thursday.

Please join me in lovingly welcoming each of these brave souls!

They are going to be cracking their hearts wide open for us, to remind our entire Tribe that we are never alone.

XOXO

Molly-Sig211


Sage-GraysonWITH LOVE FROM

Sage,  Life Editor, Wife, 2014 Elevate Sister

Sage Grayson is a professional Life Editor who helps ambitious career women edit their habits, routines, and mindsets to balance their happiness at work and home. On lazy Sundays you can find her reading her more than 30 magazine subscriptions and enjoying cups of jasmine green tea. She lives in the suburbs of San Francisco with her husband Chris and pit bull Skyla. You can find Sage at SageGrayson.com, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

 

I knew it was coming. I could feel it lurking in the shadows…slowly stalking me all day….

There was nowhere to run, and it was on top of  me before I could catch my breath. I crumbled onto the couch sobbing and gasping, feeling the immense weight of it pushing me lower and lower.

 I was having a full-blown panic attack. But strangely, I knew this was a good thing.

My breakdowns usually happen when I’m in an extreme state of stress and anxiety. Last week’s attack was surely triggered by all the pressure I’m feeling as I rebrand my business, work to pay off my debt, and attempt to lose the 30 pounds I’ve gained in the past 2 years.

That’s a lot of competing priorities, and my breakdown was inevitable.

So why was I happy about it?

People say when you hit rock bottom, it’s only then that you can pick yourself up and move forward. That’s definitely been true in my life.

You can get a profound sense of clarity when you drop all the balls you’ve been juggling, throw your hands in the air, and yell, “I give up!”

I knew my latest panic attack would help me get clear on what’s truly important in my life. And I knew it would mean a lot of what I call “life editing.”

In my experience, the only way to recover from a breakdown is…to have another break down.

It’s not what you think!

When I’m feeling overwhelmed and like I’m drowning under the weight of my responsibilities, I know the only way I can get moving again is to take those big to-dos and break them down into the teeniest, tiniest steps possible.

If you don’t want to choke when the pressure’s on, you gotta stop biting off more than you can chew.

 But you don’t need a panic attack to break down your goals.

Here’s how you can have your own break down (in the good way):

 

Step 1: Do a Brain Dump

Grab your favorite journal or open a new Word document. Then list everything that’s taking up space in your mind, big or small. Don’t try to group things into categories. Just dump out everything into one long list.

 

Step 2: Chose 3 Main Priorities

When you can’t come up with anything else, look over your brain dump and choose 3 main priorities. I like to choose 3 main priorities for the year, but feel free to start with 3 main priorites for the next month if that makes it more manageable for you.

 

These priorities should be the items that give you the most anxiety and probably seem too daunting (or too vague) to ever complete. For example, one of my main priorities is to pay off my debt.

 

Step 3: Break Down the Big Goals Into Small Actionable Tasks

What are all the little things you need to do to reach this big goal? What are some of the milestones you’ll reach along the way?

 

Going back to my debt example, I need to stop spending more than my budget allows each week, find a way to bring in more money, pay off my lowest credit card before moving on to the next card, and set up weekly “money meetings” with my husband.

 

And within each of those steps are even more mini tasks! To bring in more money, I’ll need to get a day job and that means searching for appropriate jobs online, submitting a resume and cover letter for each one, practicing interview questions, etc.

 

Step 4: Focus On 3 Mini Tasks Per Day

Here’s where things start to look more doable and a lot less overwhelming. Look at the mini tasks for each of your 3 main priorities and choose 3 things you can do on each day of this week.

 

Don’t worry if your mini tasks seems too…um, mini. That’s the whole point! You’re breaking down your responsibilities in order to avoid another physical and/or emotional breakdown.

 

For example, one of my mini tasks was to find a binder to organize all my job applications. If my task had been “Find a new job today,” I would have gotten scared and given up. But I could find a binder, and that little victory kept me going.

 

Step 5: Remember to Break Down When You Feel Like You’re Going to Breakdown

For me, my panic attacks don’t “just happen.” They’re proceeded by days or weeks of feeling drained, stressed out, and exhausted. I’ll bet you notice similar signs when leading up to your times of overwhelm.

Once you’ve broken down your goals and responsibilities, it’s time for you to live your life. Make small progress every day. Whenever you start to feel like you’re breaking down again, that’s your cue to do a healthy “break down” of your to-do list.

 

Sage-GraysonWITH LOVE FROM

Sage, Life Editor, Wife, 2014 Elevate Sister

Sage Grayson is a professional Life Editor who helps ambitious career women edit their habits, routines, and mindsets to balance their happiness at work and home. On lazy Sundays you can find her reading her more than 30 magazine subscriptions and enjoying cups of jasmine green tea. She lives in the suburbs of San Francisco with her husband Chris and pit bull Skyla. You can find Sage at SageGrayson.com, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

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