I have so much to do, I can’t seem to make time for anything new – even if it’s to follow my dreams and vision! I know it’s important but I just can’t get to everything.

I hear this all the time from friends and colleagues when I suggest that they set a goal for themselves, and make a plan to achieve it. “Sure,” they say, “it’s easy for you to say…but days just seem to go by filled with so much little stuff that I can’t find the time to start my project/plan/vision.”

I’ve said the same things to my coach and friends. Here’s what worked for me to disentangle myself from the tangled web of everyday chores and obligations.

First, I give myself permission to do just a little bit – hopefully every day. If not every day, then a few times a week. If not a few times a week, then once or twice a week. The frequency doesn’t matter! What matters is just doing something toward my vision.

Second, I allow myself to spend just 10 minutes on the vision. I didn’t have to devote an hour, two hours, half a day – not even a half-hour. Just 10 minutes. Period. That gives me such a feeling of satisfaction, I want that feeling again. I am motivated to spend another 10 minutes another day.

Third, I accept that achieving my vision will take time AND that I will get there if I am patient with myself. Guaranteed! Gradually, I find more of my actions and attention directed toward my vision. It just takes time to refocus, and much of the refocusing happens subconsciously.

Fourth, I tell myself lots of stories to help me understand what is happening.

For example, I plant seeds and it takes a while for them to germinate. Under the soil, a lot is going on that is invisible – until one day, a shoot pops up and the plant is growing in plain sight. For it to flourish, I continue to water it and give it sunlight.

Similarly, I get an idea and commit to it. Then I stop taking action. I used to feel terrible about it. However, I now know that there is a lot going on subconsciously. One day, I find myself returning to my project with much clearer ideas of how to proceed. I continue to spend time and energy on my project so it will thrive and blossom.

Another story I like is the one about the rocks. Take a large wide-mouthed glass jar and fill it with big stones. Is it full? Well, now pour in a load of pebbles. So is it full? OK, let’s pour in sand up to the top. Shake it around. Is it full now? Most people would say yes at step two or three. But…take water and fill the jar. At last it is full.

The moral of this story is to first take care of the big rocks (vision, dreams, family – your top priorities). There always will be room for the smaller ones (“have-tos”).

I like to turn that around a bit. If your life is filled with water and sand and pebbles, it’s going to be impossible to add some big rocks without making a mess. Yet if you are shifting priorities, you will have some big stones to add to the jar that is your life. That will mean displacing some small things.

Just as water and sand and pebbles have to spill out of the jar to make room for a big rock or two, so too may you have to let go of doing some laundry or cleaning some rooms or baking or cooking. If it doesn’t get done when you don’t do it, so be it. Once you’ve got the big rocks in place, you can add back some of the little stuff. Unless, of course, you realize that you’d rather spend that time on having fun!

I hope this piece helps you make room for the things that make you happy and fulfilled.