Personal note

It’s Fall, school is starting, and even for those of us who work year ‘round, there is a sensation that the pace really picks up now. Human Resource Directors with whom I speak are planning their schedules into the coming year.

I’m mapping out my schedule for the next few months, which not only includes some fun speaking engagements (more about that later) but also trips to Toronto, San Francisco, and Prague.

It’s important to remember to program in the Good Stuff as well as all the “Must Do” items.

Are you listening to your body?

There’s an old story about a city slicker watching a farmer begin to train a mule. First, the farmer picked up a two-by-four and hit the mule over the head. Then he did it again … and again. The city slicker finally said, “I don’t get it. What are you trying to teach him?”

The farmer replied, “I’m not trying to teach him anything yet; I’m just trying to get his attention.”

Every day, your body and mind may be trying to get your attention before you have a big stress breakdown, resulting in anything from minor illness to a heart attack. Are you paying attention?

Here are some early signals:


  • Forgetfulness

You go to the post office, then realize the letter you needed to mail is back at home.

  • Automatic pilot

You mean to do several errands on the way home, then find you’re sitting in your garage before you realize it, with the errands undone.

  • Living too fast

You’re walking very fast, with your head down, even if you’re not late.
Or you have a half an hour for lunch but finish it in ten minutes.

  • Urgency

Believing everything you are doing is so important that it must be done and only you can do it.

Increasingly serious signals include:

  • Tunnel vision: irritation at anything or anyone that interrupts your focus
  • Realization that you are not enjoying your life and haven’t been for a long time
  • You’re fatigued, but you still don’t sleep well
  • Vague dread of the coming day, without any specific reason
  • Mysterious headaches, backaches, stomach aches … remember when you were a kid and didn’t want to go to school? Yup, same process.

Stop this process immediately when you detect it. Take an afternoon or an evening to pamper yourself, listen to soothing music. Walk in the park. Go for a massage or a facial.

This is the time for you to discover that if you take a day off, or even an afternoon off, and do something wonderful for yourself, you will progress even faster towards your goals. If you don’t understand that, you are already at least halfway to stress-related illness.

Pay attention! Save your own life.