Warning Signals [en]

With the years, I’m getting better and better at identifying early warning signs. Human beings (I’m no exception) have this tendancy to dig themselves into holes now and again, but not realise they’re digging them or even inside them until the waters are closing on over their heads.

For the past month I’ve been looking at my calendar with increasing dread. I’ve barely been blogging. Things haven’t been spinning out of control, though, but I’ve been tired and more stressed than I like and kind of thinking “gosh, how am I going to manage all this”. At the same time, I’ve been refusing to make some hard choices regarding the things I want to do. Dropping one or the other was not an option.

I’m talking mainly about non-work things here. And things I do for me (as I might have mentioned somewhere before, I’ve become reasonably competent at not saying yes when I want to say no to other people, so I don’t end up with commitments I’d like to wriggle out of as often as I did a few years ago).

Yesterday, I realised that I was setting myself up for a couple of inhuman weeks before the end of the year, but that I was refusing to consider that I might have to let go of something. This is the cousin of “I really need a break now but there’s no way I can manage to take one“.

Something clicked. I realised that I was wanting to do everything. That clearly there was too much on my plate, that I was not Superwoman, but that I was refusing to set priorities between all these different things I wanted to do. So, I knew what I had to do: accept that I have to sit down and decide what is most important for me, and what is less important. I did that, decided to let go of something, and though it really saddens and frustrates me not to be able to do it (in addition to the umpteen other things I’m already doing), I feel better.

The important point here is the warning signals. If I look back at the journey of these last years, one constant for me has been to learn to spot warning signals that I’m leading myself somewhere I don’t want to go, and spot them earlier and earlier. And figure out what to do when I spot them.

And I’m happy to say I’m getting pretty good at it!

What about you? How good are you at recognizing your warning signals? When you recognize them, do you know what to do to keep things from going further downhill?