Your new year started out focused. You resolved to read more, to dial in the diet, and to tackle a big project at work. You made PLANS!

Now we’re closing in on February, and perhaps things haven’t gone according to plan. On the work front you had to take action on a decision, a tough one with aspects of it out of your control, or influence, even. On the home front an unexpected speed bump interrupted the change you were focused on. These new, unexpected variables often lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed (and behind).

Unfortunately, your ability to Get Shit Done (GSD) is inversely proportional to feeling overwhelmed. The more you feel your head is cranked into a vice grip, the less likely you are to GSD.

Working through the unexpected variables -- and returning to a grounded state -- is a common focus in the one-on-one coaching I do. And it starts with helping clients separate what they can control from what they can’t.

That’s because when you’re over extended it’s important to remember that you truly only control two things: the actions you take, and the attitude you show up with. You may recognize this as one of the Six Essentials of GSD. (Click here to review all six essentials.)

Keeping this in mind is a great technique for “cutting through the noise” and focusing your energy on what you can control. When you focus on the next best action, you gain clarity and take distractions off the table.

Identifying the next action happens when you’re grounded. Ask yourself “How can I be helpful?” or remind yourself “Today is Tuesday; all I have to do is Tuesday.” That allows you to create an agenda for what you can do today to GSD. It also means you don’t get out ahead of yourself.

If you’re wrestling with this, or in general treading water too often, check out my recent post, “Let Go or Be Dragged.” Letting go, tough as it can be, is one key technique to focus on your actions and your attitude.

Someone who has mastered all this -- though is surprisingly not (yet) a Ben Kiker Group client -- is Matt Damon and his character in The MartianIf you’ve not yet seen it, I’m not spoiling anything by letting you know he was presumed dead and left behind on Mars. We can follow his model on getting centered:

"At some point everything is going to go south on you. And you're going to say, 'This is it. This is how I am.' You accept that, and you get to work. That's all it is. You just begin. You solve one problem, then the next."

So the next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed -- and potentially on your own in unknown territory like Matt Damon -- hit the pause button and redirect your energy to what you can control.

As always, thanks for checking out my blog. I hope you found this helpful, and I’d love to hear from you! You can email me at ben@thebenkikergroup.com, or connect with me via Twitter or LinkedIn.