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.