Learning to take our own Advice



Isn’t it always the hardest thing to do – taking our own advice?

I’m as guilty as the next guy when it comes to giving good advice to others, and not following my own advice.


When life is particularly challenging, and friends or family come to me for some encouraging words, I help them dissect their worries and find steps to a solution.

When we feel overwhelmed and bombarded by what can sometimes feel like the walls crumbling around us, it can feel similar to starting to put together a 5000 piece puzzle. I know this feeling well because I’ve been living a puzzle for quite some time now. When our world gets disrupted by unforeseen circumstances and our daily goals we’ve set to accomplish can’t be met, we need to rearrange our priorities and come up with a Plan B. But what do we do?


We start at the edges and build from there. We find a starting point.


We need to break down our concerns and ‘to do’ lists:

  • We need to put our worries and ‘to do’s’ on paper, because if we don’t file them somewhere, they’ll be taking up a lot of real estate in our brains.

  • Concentrate on the things with the highest priority.

  • Make a simple list of what we need to accomplish for TODAY only.

  • Don’t look at the whole puzzle – choose each day’s spot where we wish to begin, and where we leave off –  we’ll get back to it tomorrow.

  • Everything doesn’t have to be finished in one day.


one day


One day at a time is a phrase I’ve learned to believe in. I was so used to telling others not to worry about everything all at once, or pushing themselves to get everything done in a day, but I didn’t practice what I preached. I finally had to succumb to my own words.


It’s hard to change our ways, but if we can train ourselves to remember to take a breath, and make a list of just one or two things we’d like to accomplish in one day, and not focus on all the other things in our ‘to do’ pile, what we need to do tomorrow and next week, we can lessen our anxieties.


When life gets messy and we’re inundated with things to do, we can easily crack under the pressures if we’re constantly worrying about everything we haven’t accomplished. If you’re anything like me, compulsive about staying on top of everything, getting chores and daily goals checked off your list, or worrying about the backlog awaiting us from the things we didn’t get done, this can create an unhealthy state of anxiety.


Logical thinking reminds us that we have so much to do, which in turn sets off the anxiety when we know that we just can’t do it all. So, we have to formulate a plan for what we CAN get done in a day, instead of the million things we’re wishing we could wipe off our lists.


The month of March, my husband had been quite ill and he still has a ways to go. Life, as well as my writing, has been left on the back burner. I learned the ‘one day at a time’ lessons during this time.

Paying bills, cleaning my home, throwing in a load of laundry, even writing a blog post, became things that got done sporadically in between back and forth hospital visits, looking after my husband at home, taking him to doctors and tests, and most days, feeling too damned tired to even want to look at a computer.


My usual scheduling had to be altered around spare moments. The set times I had for my duties, chores and writing, were not the priority. Doing our income tax is something I abhor and like to get out of the way in March, but I have till June, so I set myself a new time-frame to get that done. My newest book awaits my revisions, but I know it will still be there when I get to it. Simple tasks that are part of our day-to-day living, such as running out to the grocery store or the like, became non-existent because I wouldn’t dare leave my husband alone. So I had to learn to work around my time constraints, and accept that I could only get done what the hours in a day would allow me.


Every day, something new crops up to add to our daily lists. But all we can do is deal with everything TODAY – one day at a time.


I’ve learned to adjust my thinking and worrying, and to modify my compulsion to complete everything I set out to do for my tomorrows. I’m one person, doing the best she can with only 24 hours in a day. So each day, I focus on my intent for the day, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.


*Next week I’ll be posting an article on health care and caregiving, and how to stay on top of things medically when you’re taking care of a sick loved one.



44 thoughts on “Learning to take our own Advice

  1. I recognise, relate to so much of this except in my case making lists their writing for me induces pressure. We each have our own ways, breathe, one day at a time always. My best to you and yours.


    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I understand that each person has to find their own way to deal with overload. I personally find that by getting things out of my head on to paper helps. The list is there as reminders for when I get there, as opposed to trying to remember what needs to be done by keeping it constantly in my head. 🙂


  2. It is true that is all we can do. One day and one thing at a time. My cousin has a saying, “keep putting one foot in front of the other and you`ll get there.” I understand the worry of not getting daily tasks done, but when you are running back and forth from hospital, (I had to do this with my Mum a lot.), sometimes all you need to do is relax. Hope everything gets better for you and your husband.


    1. Thanks Marian. There is some improvement and with my intervention with doctors, many facts are coming to light. I’ve been documenting the journey and will be sharing some of the things I’ve learned along the way, this coming week. 🙂


  3. John Lennon said it better than I ever could. “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” Life, it seems, takes precedence over our plans much of the time. What you’ve had going on for the last month is life and you paid attention to what mattered most to you. That’s as it should be. When my daughter was two, she would use the descriptor, “nevermind” to describe things that should not command attention at that moment. In this instance, everything outside of being there for your husband was “nevermind.”


    1. Great reminders Deb. The old ‘nevermind’ is a popular word, lol. And you are so right. Life is happening all the time and going to happen. Trying to stay on top of everything and every incident is almost like chasing a rainbow. That’s why we have to realize that some things are beyond are control, so we have to focus on the current moment.
      PS I love your new series with your daughters. 🙂


  4. I’m always making lists of things to do because if I don’t I’ll forget them. But stuff happens and they don’t get done that day. My morning prayer and determination is to accomplish what NEED to be accomplished that day. Works reasonably well.


  5. Things really are topsy turvy for you, Debby. That’s clear. I’m glad you’ve found a way to manage and learn a bit at the same time. You are so right that all we can do is live in the day to the best of our abilities. Wishing your hubby continued improvement. Hang in there 🙂


    1. Thanks Diana. Life isn’t always what we want it to be, but I do believe with the bad and the good, we have to make a path and clear the debris, then take something out of every experience.:)


  6. I also find that spreading out doing those tasks during the day also helps, Debby. It’s wonderful to be able to cross tasks off that list and I’m totally with you that we should do a few a day and try not to cross them all out.
    “What can’t be done, can be done tomorrow”, but as human beings we need to realise that life is not a race. Who better to give us advice than ourselves? Sometimes we can’t see that advice and I know that when that happens to me I’m always thankful to take that hidden advice from my partner, family or a friend.
    Sending you and Hubby my best wishes.


  7. Such sensible advice – it echoes what we do in sports psychology: ‘chunk’ things down into manageable bite size pieces, and prioritise. Deal with what you can, and put the rest aside for later.
    Take care, and keep doing what you’re doing.


  8. Good golly Miss Molly, ain’t that the truth!
    I’m happy to know you’ve set some boundaries, Debby. Also happy to know your husband is doing better, even if he still has a ways to go. Wishing you both completely well. Mega hugs.


  9. This is great advice, Debby. Just focusing on two goals a day and getting them done is much more rewarding than being scattered all over the place and never feeling like you’re getting anything done.


    1. Thanks Carol. That’s the only way I could deal right now without smothering. So I felt it was worth sharing to remind others that’s it’s okay to breathe, and reorganize our schedules to allow this. 🙂


  10. Hi Debby, I got traffic from this post today. Is my link here? Thanks for sharing my 556 page view in 12 hour post on G+. I saw the notice. You are a good friend.


    1. Hi Janice. Thanks for popping by. No, your link isn’t on this post. But, I have your Blogger’s Pit Stop image at the bottom of my page. Maybe that’s it? 🙂


  11. Oh dear Deb, we are definitely living parallel lives at the moment. I know exactly what you mean about giving out good advice to others but forgetting to apply it to myself! I’ve had to really slow myself down to making those lists, accomplishing those one day at a time tasks, as I’ve felt myself becoming so overwhelmed, anxious and terribly stressed. Not only with my mother ill, looking after her (but thank goodness, she is making a great recovering and I can step back a little again), but my daughter who has been ill, and my dad, who is in prison, facing surgery and calling me after weeks of silence within half an hour of me taking the shock call about my mum asking me to help him with some financial matters. Argggh…I thought I would lose it at one point! I am trying to get back to blogging, but it will be very slow. I’ll put up a post later in the week with an update, and I will have to keep visits to a minimum for a while, but I will make sure to check in with you. Thank you for being a breath of calm and wisdom and steadiness here Deb, even when you are facing so much yourself, and relentlessly so. One day at a time it is…and I hope that your day, today, is a good one…sending love and hugs to you my friend… xoxo


    1. Hi Sher! First of all, thanks for taking a moment to visit and read this. And I’m so glad it was timely for you too. We do need to remind ourselves these things sometimes while we’re so busy being the caregivers.
      Good heavens, I’m sorry to hear everything on your plate. Certainly, when it rains it can certainly pour for us.
      You and I, as you know, are very much alike in our thinking. We share with our readers our personal strife, I’m sure because we are memoir writers. And we like to share because, like you and I, there are many who’ve walked in our shoes.
      We both say we may be absent from our blogs, and yet we both try and keep up appearances, for our readers, and sometimes for our own sanity!
      I’m thinking about you and sending positive thoughts your way to keep the faith and strength. Big Hugs to you! xoxo ❤


      1. You’re so right Deb, we don’t want to stay away too long, we need it for our sanity, too right! I said to myself today, if there’s one thing I’m going to do, it’s visit Debby’s blog!!! And I did…so today is a good day lol 😀 I’m sending the very same positive thoughts to you too my dear friend…we need to stay strong and definitely keep the faith 🙂 I’ll be back to check out your next posts as the week goes on. Big hugs right back 🙂 xoxox ❤


      2. Thanks Sher, you’re so sweet to spend some of your valuable time visiting here. And our wonderful blogging friends do really help balance some sanity. After all, these are the folks we spend much of our writing and working life with here online. It’s always nice to see a friend pop by and say hello, it’s kind of like our comfort zone. 🙂 xoxo<3


      3. It is…you said it perfectly. A wonderful comfort zone, a place of acceptance and friendship and yes, it is so lovely to visit. Have a good day Deb, and I’ll see you again very soon my friend! 🙂 ❤ xoxo


  12. Good words, Debby. i’m at my brother’s home tonight. He’s in the hospital. He’s at that stage with cancer therapy where everything seems to go wrong at once. One thing a day is a good thing. i made it to your blog today. One good thing!


    1. Thank you for taking a moment to visit here in your difficult time Elaine. I’m glad this post was timely for you. Lord knows we could both use a few reminders in our difficult times. Wishing for peace and comfort to you and your brother. ❤


  13. Good advice Debbie, taking things in our stride and seeing that often the things we want to get done are really not so important after all.. Taking each day one step at a time and priorities change when we have to juggle our time..

    Know my thoughts are with you and I appreciate even more the time you have found in your day to visit me.. 🙂


  14. Sometimes it’s like you’re a mind reader. I have literally (yesterday) just split my to do list, into what should I get done this week list, vs a more long term, nice to have doesn’t need to be now list. It’s helped a lot. I suffer from my own self imposed ridiculous time constraints and standards. Its unhealthy and unhelpful. This was the perfect reminder I did the right thing <3.


    1. Well I’m glad it helped. Because it sounds like you and I are the same when it comes to putting the pressure on ourselves with deadlines. Deadlines are fine, as when we work for ourselves we need the discipline. The trick is not to forget we are only human. ❤


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s