intentional legacy

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How to plan when you feel overwhelmed

How to plan when you feel overwhelmed

How do you think about the future when you feel like you can’t see the next five minutes? How do you make a plan when you feel overwhelmed?

That’s what we’ve all been trying to figure out since March. And honestly? Just thinking about planning is overwhelming… which only adds to the overwhelm. See how this is a problem??

Listed below are steps I take to plan, even when I feel overwhelmed.

Some helpful considerations before we start:

– Adjust your time-frames. I’m a 5-year plan kind of girl, but when things get overwhelming and the future is too unknown to process (like parenting and running a business in the midst of a global pandemic), I have to narrow my gaze. When life is crazy, I make firm plans for the next week, loose plans for the next quarter, and I pencil in plans for the quarter after that. I go from 5-year planning to 6-month planning. If you’re normally a 6-month plan person, just plan the next week.

– Remember: planning is NOT about the plan. The whole point of making a plan is to GO SOMEWHERE. If you don’t plan, you’ll stay exactly where you are, or you’ll drift off in some direction you might not want to go. The point of writing a plan is NOT to make it happen— the point is to be intentional about the decisions you make TODAY, because of their impact on tomorrow.

– Focus on sustainability. Webster’s Dictionary defines sustainable as “using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.” The purpose of planning isn’t to control the future. The purpose of planning is to protect our resources. Intentionality leads to sustainability. That’s the point— not depleting resources.


Tools needed: 1 sheet of paper, pencil or pen. Time required: 10-15 minutes.

1. Slow down and quiet down. Create space to think clearly, even if it’s for five minutes. Put away your phone, close your web browser, and get quiet.

2. Pull out some paper and draw a line down the center. On the left side write out a list of everything that is outside your control. On the right side, write out a list of things you can control. Give yourself 10-15 minutes to be sad and upset about the things you can’t control. And then stop, shift your focus to what you can control, and move on with your day.

3. Pull out your Life Plan, your Core Beliefs, or your Long-Term Vision. What is one thing you can do today to get closer to who you want to be in 10 years? Add that thing to the right side of the paper.

4. Look at your calendar and your current to-do list. What commitments have you made that require action today? Add those to the right hand side of your list. What tasks require work TODAY? Add those to your list as well.

5. Prioritize. Take the right side of your list and rank in order of importance for the day. I like to make three mini lists inside of the full list— Must Do, Should Do, Could Do— and focus on the top list first. Remember: the goal is to keep you moving, so place top priority on the things that will actually give you traction on your goals.

Still feeling overwhelmed? I’ve created this just for you.

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about sarah

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With nearly 20 years of experience behind the lens and a portfolio that spans four continents, Sarah brings a refined, story-driven approach to the events of a wedding. Her work has published in Brides, Martha Stewart Weddings, Southern Living, as well as print & digital outlets around the globe.

Sarah Bradshaw is an internationally recognized wedding & event photographer. Combining a background in international photojournalism, a love for classical art, and a genuine interest in people, Sarah creates images that are at once iconic and intimate, effortless and intentional, in the moment and intended for a lifetime.