Ilona L. Tobin, Ed.D.

Licensed Psychologist

Do you work hard but feel like you’ve accomplished little or nothing at the end of the day?

Do the fruits of your labor leave you wanting more?

Do you find yourself wondering, “Is this is all there is to life?”

If so, chances are you’ve been living as if you’re on an endless treadmill.

Here are a few useful ways to further investigate:

  1. Do you often feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to take action? Perhaps you’re no longer interested in trying anything new. Maybe your actions throughout the day are on “autopilot.”
  2. Has it become more and more difficult to make decisions? Our modern world can be overwhelming, and choices seem to get more complex. Have you started to simply ignore your challenges, hoping they’ll go away?
  3. Has tiredness become a constant companion? Whether it’s due to lack of sleep or just having less get-up-and-go, this is about more than aging. There’s a growing feeling of depleted energy.


If you answered “yes” to many of the questions above, take heart. Awareness is the first critical step to feeling better. Overwhelm, indecision and exhaustion serve as useful signals telling you that your life is out of balance and that something needs to change, that it’s time to feel more excited about your life.

How can you step off the treadmill, regain equilibrium and a sense of positive and fruitful motion?

Read on for a decision-making process that can reduce overwhelm, clarify your decisions and reenergize you:

Sort your decisions into 3 categories: “Yes,” “No”and “Maybe.”

Should you, for example, take on that extra assignment at work? If your immediate answer is No, honor it. Trust your instincts.

What about the vacation you’ve been wanting for years? Probably the Yes pile, right?

Without thinking about how each thing is going to happen, or what the consequences might be, go through your list of things you need to decide about, and sort.

If it’s neither Yes or No, put it in the Maybe pile.

The Maybe pile is usually filled with things you’re uncertain about, and is the category that seems to be the biggest and bogs you down the most.

Here’s the kicker: Your Maybe pile is very likely an extension of your No pile. Big Maybe piles are only overwhelming if you think of them as Yesses—or “shoulds.”

Just say “NO.”

Until you’re clear that you’ve taken care of all the Yesses in your life, everything else is a No. It’s that simple.

Working from a small, contained Yes pile helps you focus and let go of “what ifs.” Finally, the overwhelm starts to go away.

A simple decision-making process like the above can be all it takes to reduce tension, help you breathe more deeply and gradually, and give you more energy.