Last Updated on July 22, 2021
Do you ever feel like you’re completely overwhelmed with things to do, yet you’re still not doing enough? Maybe you thought you’d be further ahead in life than you are right now, or maybe you have this list in the back of your head of things you *should* be doing.
No matter what you do, it doesn’t quite seem to be enough. Seeing other people’s successes might trigger this feeling of inadequacy. Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself can also make you think that nothing is ever quite good enough.
Of course, there’s always room for improvement in our lives, but it feels like a never-ending rat race when you’re constantly chasing the next thing. It’s overwhelming to feel like you need to do everything.
And when you start to feel like you’re not doing enough, it’s easy to overwhelm yourself even more. Feeling like you should or could be doing more only adds more stress onto your already heavy shoulders.
In this post, I’m sharing how I’ve been dealing with this feeling of not doing enough. You’ll also find some practical tips to counter this fear if you’ve been feeling the same way.
What Causes the Fear of Not Doing Enough?
Though I’m doing plenty, there’s always more I think I could or should be doing because of the pressure to be busy from society. This pressure can manifest from the internal expectations you set for yourself, as well as those from the outside world, like work, relationships, etc.
Family members and friends who have good intentions might say things like, “You should be doing this” or “I saw this person doing this, you should try it too.”
Maybe you feel like you’re not getting any recognition for what you’re doing at work, so you start to think you’re doing something wrong or simply not doing enough. That pressure only adds to the weight of your to-do list.
Something I’ve learned is that I often overwhelm myself more than anything else. A simple check-in helps when I feel overwhelmed. I ask myself, “Am I the one causing this extra stress?” If the answer is yes, I take ownership of the issue and try to take things off my to-do list. If it’s caused by someone else, I ask myself, “How can I set better boundaries with this person or communicate my needs better?”
Related Post: 5 Tips To Pause Hustle Mode And Slow Down
Another reason for feeling inadequate is the comparison game. I often feel like I’m not doing enough because I compare myself to other people. In reality, whatever I see from other people is a highlight reel, a curated version that they want me to see. That’s not necessarily bad because creating (even if it’s sharing your mundane daily life) is an art. Making life seem more interesting is an art.
But I realize that I don’t often find myself comparing my life to my close friends and family. It’s mostly people on the internet who I don’t know. I think this is because I see my friends’ successes, but I also know their struggles.
When I find myself in the comparison trap, I remember that I’m not seeing the full picture of someone’s life. Whatever they’re doing does not affect how well I’m doing. In reality, they’re probably comparing themselves to someone else too.
Related Post: 5 Tips For Dealing With Your Inner Critic
Whatever you’re doing is enough. There is nothing more you have to add to your to-do list. Focus less on what you ‘should’ be doing and focus more on what you ‘need’ to be doing. You already know what that is deep down.
Not feeling good enough can come from perfectionism, even from the most mundane of things. After I posted a quote on Instagram the other day, I felt like it wasn’t any good. It was literally just a quote on a social media platform. It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but I felt like there was something better I could have posted. Something more meaningful. Something more impactful.
I have to remind myself that even the smallest thing can be meaningful. Having someone comment and say “I needed this reminder today” is enough. The simple act of me sharing something is enough.
Sometimes I have to take a step back and remember that every little step is part of something bigger. Every little step we take contributes to our growth, or to our decline.
In the book, The Power of Focus, the authors talk about how everything in life is built on tiny little actions. Good friendships flourish from small efforts – sending a text, sharing a meme, or meeting up for coffee. Over time, these little things build a closer relationship. Other relationships dwindle because you stop texting, stop checking in, or get into an argument and don’t attempt to smooth it over.
Each positive action you take is a building block. The small things you’re doing – no matter how perfect or imperfect they are – actually are worthwhile. Whatever you’re doing is enough.
Related Post: How I’m Learning To Embrace The Art of Doing Nothing
3 Tips For When You Feel Behind
When you find yourself thinking “I’m not doing enough”, here are a few things that can help:
1. Stop making your to-do list so long. Do fewer things with intention.
When you’re working on a bunch of things at once, you might feel like you’re making progress, but divided attention makes it difficult to actually get ahead. Progress requires dedicated focus.
Stop overwhelming yourself and do fewer things extraordinarily well. Maybe you’re thinking, ‘But there’s so much I could do…how do I know what to focus on?’ You know what you need to do deep down. You know what you could do, but what do you need to do? Ask yourself this question often.
There’s always something more that could be done, but it’s not always necessary. Focus on what’s necessary. Focus on what fits into the vision you have for your life, business, career, family, and health.
Related Post: Why You Need To Define Your Top Priorities In Life
2. Set realistic boundaries and expectations for yourself.
You cannot do everything. Be realistic with the amount of time and energy you have to dedicate to things. Whatever you’re doing is already enough.
If you feel like you’re behind, think of what you’ve already accomplished in the past year. Think of how you’ve changed and grown over the past five years.
Stop comparing your life to everyone else’s and set expectations you know that you can achieve, regardless of what other people think.
Related Post: 5 Ways To Say No & Stop Over-Committing Yourself
3. Track where your time goes.
If you often get to the end of the week and wonder whether you’ve accomplished anything, keep a log of what you do on a daily basis. I tracked my time for a week and realized that I was spending a lot of time on things that weren’t even important to me.
Evaluate your time and see where your efforts are going. You’re going to a) realize you’re doing more than you think and/or b) realize you’re spending your time in the wrong ways. If you think you’re spending it in the wrong ways, mindfully plan your schedule using time blocks based on your top priorities.
Related Post: How to Plan Your Daily Schedule For Success
Think of one thing you’ve been putting consistent effort into lately. How does this add up to something bigger? If you feel like sharing, leave a comment with your answer below!
If you found this post helpful, bookmark or pin it for later so you can revisit it whenever you start to fear that you’re not doing enough.
Love the comparison part. I need to remind myself of this often!
Me too, in all honesty! ?
I absolutely love this!!! ??
Thank you, Georgie!
Love this!! I shared it with a friend who’s feeling so pressured to do more, be more during a pandemic! She’s a newlywed, just had a major surgery, and is feeling stressed out because she lost her job during covid… this will be so helpful! ???
Thank you, have a blessed day!
Oh wow, that’s a lot! You’re a good friend for reminding her she’s doing enough!
This article really resonated with me. Im actually in awe that what I’ve been feeling someone else not only has been there too, but has practicle tips to help.
I have been comparing myself to others A LOT recently and feeling really down about myself. This post was super helpful and just what I needed! Thank you, Catherine!
I’m so glad this was helpful, Ashley!
Wow! Thank you for this article. I find myself struggling with perfectionism and just feeling behind in general. I definitely need to slow down and remember that even the smallest things are meaningful. Do you happen to have an article that focuses on balancing work/school with down time?
I’m glad this helped, Jayme! Funnily enough, I’m currently writing a post about that topic. It should be up this month!
This past week all I’ve been doing is feeling like I’m not doing enough and trying to remind myself that it is but hearing it from someone else I think really helps solidify the positive-self talk I try to do on my own. Thank you for this post Catherine!
Of course, I’m glad this was helpful, Luna!
Refreshing while reading.
Thank you so much for this article. I loved it. In this season, it is definitely nice to have a reminder that I need to take a step back and take everything in and breathe first before I immediately start to panic. I constantly struggle with feeling like I am behind and that I am not doing enough or just in general feeling like I am not good enough. It is also nice to know I am not alone in this journey.
You’re definitely not alone, Kelle! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
You are so right, Catherine! Thank you for the reminder that getting a thousand things done in a day is not a mandatory requirement of life. I suffer from perfectionism and comparison the most, but everything you wrote was so relevant! It’s important for us to remember that we don’t have to listen to the world’s ideals in order to live a happy life. Thanks for the encouraging message!
Glad this post resonated with you, Genesis!
What you need to do vs what you could do…I hadn’t thought of it this way but that’s really helpful. My project slate was tossed in the air by quarantine and I’m struggling to reorganize things, set priorities, and focus on a goal.
I’m glad that part was helpful a helpful mindset shift for you, Kelly!
Comparison is a huge reason why we believe we are not enough or doing enough.
If we didn’t compare our past self to our present self, or the present self to our future self, we wouldn’t have a reference point to compare “enough”.
Not to mention comparing ourselves with other people that society perceives as “successful”, “enough”, or “worthy”.
It is about being here and noticing that now is always enough.
I found this article really helpful, Catherine! Specially in times I need to study.
Also I tend to put too much pressure on myself when I know I have many tasks to do. But sometimes we need to ask ourselves if we really need to do them or if they can also wait and set our priorities.
This was a great reminder not to set too high of expectations! I am currently working on my master’s full time and I keep having to remind myself that I don’t have the extra time to commit to a job in addition to my course load. I really tend to give myself forever-long to-do lists and this was a good reminder of that. Thanks!
You’re welcome, Sarah! Doing your master’s is a lot of work in itself :)
Thank you for this. For the past month or so I’ve felt so down about myself. Going from my appearance to my sports. I think my biggest flaw is comparing myself to others and not loving myself. I know I’m only 16 but I still have a long road in front of me and I should use this time to build myself up. Thank you again.
Thank you for the post.. I always struggle with setting high expectations and perfectionism.. This was very helpful in reminding me that things doesn’t have to be perfect and to prioritize things and tackle each at my pace..😊
Hi Catherine, thanks for this reminder! I just got home from the States (Spokane, WA) and have been bogged down trying to do everything the BC government requires for covid testing. I have been so involved with this that I haven’t even been able to get my bags put away or gotten back into my regular routine which has been doubly frustrating. I don’t owe anyone any of my time so I just need to take a deep breath and do things as I can…nobody is pointing to things that need to get done but me! Again, thanks for all your good advice
So glad this was helpful, Sherry! Hang in there.
I used to make a long to-do list but then I realize I can’t go halfway through.
But this comparison thing is a deadly hallow. I wish I can remove it ASAP.
Thanks for this wonderful article Catherine!
Thank you for this! I often end up looking down upon myself when I see people achieving things that even I could have. Yet at the same time, I am always hesitant to seek opportunities that feel way out of my comfort zone, I don’t know if this reflects my conditioning or not. But it surely triggers me later.
very informative and self affirmative write up
I’ve been doing too much lately for no reason and it just felt like not enough just trying to make my family proud and taking over for them so I thank you very much for this article
Thank you for sharing such wonderful thoughts.
Thanks for such amazing article and i have been lately into coding and it is helping me in my bigger dream(placements).