7 Ways to Keep Your Sanity When Life Feels Insane


A weekly newsletter to help you reach your potential and make a difference in the world.

Does life feel insane right now? Here’s what to do…

Over the last 3-4 weeks, I’ve onboarded two new leaders for executive coaching, submitted a formal proposal for an 8-week summer speaking gig at a premier camp for young people, and traveled to Florida and the Bahamas for my Mom’s 80th birthday celebration. This week my son “graduates” from fifth grade in a school he’s called home for six years, my daughter is graduating from high school, and we welcome three family members into our home to celebrate with us.

All great stuff but crazy!

On top of that, we thought we may have picked up bed bugs after finding some mysterious bites on my youngest son. Thankfully, after hiring someone to inspect the house, it turned out not to be the case.

Sometimes life gets insane when family, personal, unexpected circumstances, and work collide. What to do?

7 Ways to Take Back Control When Life Feels Insane…

#1 - Look for the light

If you are in a “busy season” as many say, there should be a light at the end of the tunnel. This allows you to endure the season knowing there is an end in sight.

But if there is no light at the end of the tunnel, it’s not a season, it’s a lifestyle.

Seasons have a defined beginning and end. Lifestyles don’t.

If you find yourself saying you’re in a “busy season” but there is no end in sight,

You don't need to read any further. You need a change.

It's better to admit it and roll out of your rut.

#2 - Don’t tune out

When life gets intense, it’s easy to disengage and resort to numbing behaviors. They are different for all of us, but you know your defaults. Mine are Netflix and going into my cave by avoiding people and situations in my home.

Tuning out is the last thing you want to do when life feels intense. It doesn’t solve any problems and usually has the opposite effect of exacerbating them. What does solve problems is facing them head-on. It’s harder to do but problems get solved more quickly when you stay engaged.

#3 - Stay in the moment

Being present is hard. Our minds tend to focus on future scenarios, what-ifs, and outcomes.

But life is much more enjoyable when you practice being present.

It’s easier to find the good things and see little rays of light when you don’t stay present in the current moment.

#4 - Plan (but don’t over-plan)

A bit of planning minimizes confusion and chaos and creates much-needed order, but overplanning can strangle the life out of everything.

Planning is my default, but over the years, I’ve learned to embrace spontaneity as well—primarily through the help of my wife.

The sweet spot is somewhere between planning and spontaneity. I call it planned spontaneity.

It goes something like this. Develop a plan but stay flexible and leave open space, especially when life feels intense.

This week, I failed to plan well. The fact that it was a full week with several important family obligations meant I needed a better plan.

For starters, I was thirty minutes late for two coaching appointments...in the same day! I don't remember the last time that happened. Then, I messed up a coaching payment for a leader, and I just felt discombobulated all week.

My lack of planning is also the reason this email is a day late.

Though I completed my usual weekly plan, I failed in my daily planning. Had I done that, my daily schedule would have been written in my planner and I would have made far fewer mistakes.

A good plan gives direction, creates accountability, and allows breathing room to accommodate life. You’ll still get from A to B, it just won’t be in a straight line.

#5 - Stick to your routine but…

When life feels out of control, practicing your normal rhythms helps you feel grounded.

No matter where or what season I’m in, I try to keep my morning routine and continue exercising. This gives me a sense of stability and centeredness.

But don’t forget to be kind to yourself, too. Things happen and sometimes it’s impossible to keep your routine. Stay flexible and don’t get discouraged about a day or even a few days when your routine is disrupted. Just get back on the horse and keep riding. As an old friend used to tell me, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken.”

An easy, repeatable, life-giving morning routine anchors you when life feels chaotic and out of control.

#6 - Zero expectations

Expectations are a tricky thing. As Seth Godin wrote,

“Low expectations can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. High expectations, on the other hand, will inevitably lead to disappointment. Perhaps it's worth considering no expectations. Intense effort followed by an acceptance of what you get in return.” (italics mine)

That principle has saved me more than once.

#7 Surrender

Surrender can be extremely difficult because it implies giving up control. Of course that assumes we had control in the first place.

I believe self-control is the only real control we possess (and let’s be honest, sometimes that seems outside of our grasp). Anything outside of that is a pipe dream.

If you get sucked out to sea by a strong rip current, surrender is the only way to survive. If you try to fight it you drown. Providing you are a good swimmer, if you let it take you out to sea and then swim parallel to the shore before trying to swim back in, you will most likely survive.

When the rip currents of life suck you out to sea, sometimes the only way to survive is to surrender to the current.

Engage

Which of the 7 ways resonates with you the most in this season? Choose one to focus on and set aside a 30-minute block to think about how to practice it this week.

Until next time,

PS - If you are benefitting from my weekly newsletter, leave me a tip so I can keep creating.

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See you next week!

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