I work with many busy, overwhelmed women. They are juggling parenting, creative ventures, business ideas, careers, relationships, community involvement and their own self care, or lack of… And they feel spread too thin or like they can’t do anything fully.

In our life and career coaching sessions, we focus on identifying priorities. The idea that you can do it all and have it all is a cultural myth that leaves us feeling inept and stressed. Recent studies show that multitasking actually brings down your IQ and productivity levels.

One tool that helps with prioritizing is identifying core needs. I like to use Non-Violent Communication’s list of universal human needs. An area of confusion can be the difference between a need and a strategy to meet a need. One way to tell the difference is that there are multiple strategies to meet any given need but the core need stays the same.

Here are some examples:

A coaching client is frustrated because she can’t make her 6PM yoga class due to childcare issues in the summer. “But I need to get to yoga!” she says. Through inquiry, we discover that the actual core needs that yoga meet for her are movement and peace. We make a menu of ways she can meet those needs. N0 longer is she angry and resentful.

Another coaching client claims that she needs her partner to be more interested in spirituality. She enjoys reading philosophical books, meditating and going to lectures. “I need him to want to go with me!” After some exploration, we see that she needs to feel more connected in her relationship. We come up with a clear request she can make to her partner that gets them out of the loop of him feeling blamed which actually creates disconnection.

Identifying the actual needs under the strategies that are causing us stress and strain help ease the feelings of overwhelm and create more freedom and ease.