Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the size of the world’s problems. I don’t know how we can heal the divisions in our world, or how to turn hate and fear into compassion. When I get too overwhelmed, I stop functioning very well and just want to hide.

So I was talking with my accountability partner, telling her about hiding and not getting as much done as I wish I had, and she asked me “What’s one thing you can do this week to bring your business forward?” I realized I can do one thing. And often, when I do one, I do another, and another after that.

I heard the phrase again at a board retreat over the weekend. The woman running the meeting asked each of us, “What’s one thing you are taking from this meeting?” It was a lovely way to highlight something that was important to us. It wasn’t necessarily the most important thing – it’s hard to be put on the spot to come up with the single most important thing – and sometimes someone else says our thing first –  but it was something that we saw from our perspective that mattered to us. It was nice to hear the positive things people took from our afternoon of hashing things out.

I’ve tried this with my son as well. If he had a conflict with someone at school, “What’s one thing you could try to do differently next time?” If he doesn’t get a story before bed, “What’s one thing you could do faster tomorrow so you’ll have time for a story?” It tells him he doesn’t have to do it perfectly, he doesn’t have to have the entire answer, he just needs to try something. And if that doesn’t work, he can try something else.

I like this because there’s not the kind of pressure to come up with the perfect thing, or all the things, which can be overwhelming. It’s just one thing. I can come up with and remember one thing. I can even get one thing done on the days I can barely get out of bed. Realizing that there’s one thing I can do in a situation can help it to shift and change. And once I’ve done a thing, I often feel motivated to do another thing.

When you are looking for that one thing, what helps you? What is the single thing that can get you started, or that you can commit to getting done? Does it change based on situation? If you haven’t done it yet today, go do your one thing now!