Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Author Rita Mae Brown (not Albert Einstein, as this quote is often attributed.)

I could stay in bed and stare at my ceiling for days on end hoping for my life to get better.

Correction: I have stayed in bed and stared at my ceiling for days on end hoping for my life to get better.

It never worked – just in case you were getting ready to try this. Don’t. It really doesn’t work at all.

Sure, sometimes lying in bed and thinking is what you need, but ruminating or just hoping and wishing for change, well, that’s going to take some action.

I want to tell you that after the first time I wallowed in overwhelm and indecision, I jumped right up and got to the work of fixing what needed to be fixed. Wouldn’t that be great?

I didn’t. I’ve spent years learning how to cope with the crippling effect of “OMG my life is out of control.” And I don’t know that I’m great at it yet. Better, but not great.

Among doing the basics of addressing anxiety (medication, therapy, walking the dog, eating chocolate, etc. You know the drill), I have learned to face my life head on. Sometimes I’m wearing sunglasses and looking at the ground while I begrudgingly do it, but I have learned that doing something, anything, is better than nothing.

Let’s use my living room as an example. About 18 months ago, I was married. Two middle-aged adults decided to merge their lives into a 950 square feet home with four dogs, a cat, and the occasional stay by a college-age kid.

My organizing mind jumped into action. We needed storage – lots of it – and it needed to be gorgeous and airy. It couldn’t feel heavy in the small space and it needed to be designed for maximizing the use of a small space. I sketched out a plan, found pieces I wanted, dreamed of what items I would store in each space, ordered furniture, built it and set it up.

Within a matter of minutes (no joke), all of the storage was filled with all of my husband’s crap. I mean precious belongings.

I was mentally knocked back. I hadn’t given much consideration to his storage needs. And I certainly didn’t have a grasp of how much he had to store. Further, I hadn’t voiced all of the plans I had for the storage spaces. Likewise, neither had he. It was a classic newlywed communications fail. While my belongings lingered in a storage unit, I fumed, wallowed, and tried to forget about the messy complication because I wasn’t sure how to solve it.

Eventually, I had an idea, which I shared with my husband step-by-step. I let the idea sit with him and after a time, he came back to me with some additions to the plan. We jumped into action to get that process moving. Even stage one, which involved transitioning our office space into a game room (for his precious crap), while providing me with a much needed desk area in the living room, is starting to look really promising.

Just by taking those first steps to solving the bigger storage issue, we got excited about the next steps. That is encouraging us to keep making moves to finalize the plan. We can see now that it’s going to work. I’m going to get the storage space I need. I’m freeing up office space I didn’t really need. And he gets his storage space, too.

I’ll still stare at the ceiling now and then because sometimes it just helps me think (or not think, as needed), but taking action is where the real change happens. And if the action doesn’t work – like a beautiful storage unit that your husband claims before you can – regroup and until you can launch into a new action.