Making life work for you is mostly a matter of engineering.
I bought a book that brought this whole thing home to me: Find Your Way: Unleash Your Power and Highest Potential, by Carly Fiorina. Her advice was so common-sense that I don’t know why so many of us don’t see it:
Instead of focusing on all the things you can’t change, find one problem you can solve – just one – and work on that. Then move to the next one and the next.
You have to figure out what you want first, and then ask yourself how you can put whatever’s in your power in service toward that goal, even if it only puts you ahead by a toenail. Whatever it is, you have to turn it into a habit, into a life change, and you have to be mindful about it. Concentrate on the feeling that your new habit can give you and don’t worry about the results too hard. Otherwise you’ll get overwhelmed again. The changes will take care of themselves as you are faithful to shoot for that good feeling that comes from affirming that positive change.
I’ve had to tackle a lot of big-time issues myself, though I’m aware that there are so many things I haven’t yet mastered (and probably never will). And that’s okay. The point is that parts of my life have been freed up considerably and even improved dramatically. A lot of it began with decluttering areas of my life and mind. Here are some examples of how I processed my way through some conundrums in my own life.
And, lastly, my experience of feeling frumpy while trying to make a name for myself led me to explore the matter of personal style, image, and branding. It led me into so many other avenues, and I ended up developing a simple, unified theory of aesthetics. You can see some of the results in my other site at Style Pearl Central.
Every life comes with its own lists of “shoulds” and “oughts.” Choose the most important ones and let the rest go. Whatever you need to find your way through, there is someone, somewhere on the planet who has been there before (even if what you are dealing with is extremely rare). Keep your eyes open for those whose work, lifestyle, character, abilities, or survival skills you admire—and learn from them. If they have mastered whatever you are struggling with, then those are the people you need to pay attention to.