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February 15, 2014 » 6:45 am

Making Hard Choices

Earlier this week, a familiar foe reared its ugly head: irritability. Every little thing was annoying me, and I found myself wanting to snap at people.

It’s something I used to feel constantly at my previous job, but that I haven’t felt in quite some time. Back then, I wasn’t taking care of myself, and I wasn’t in an environment that encouraged me to take care of myself. Last year was a giant reset button. I rested, recovered, and reflected. I got clear about what I wanted to do next, and how I wanted to do it. I started carefully putting into place the structures that I thought I needed to support me in being successful and in maintaining balance. On January 6, 2014, I pressed “Go.”

Six weeks into the year, I’m doing okay, but I’ve been slipping. Old patterns are starting to reappear. They’re patterns that come from a good place. I’m loving my work, and good things are starting to happen as a result of the seeds I’ve been cultivating. The problem is that, when I start seeing little seedlings sprout, I get excited and motivated, and I want to go faster rather than maintain my pace. This is how I overwhelm myself. This is how my performance starts slipping. Worse, the thing that suffers most is my health and my personal life.

What’s been different is that I’m far more self-aware this time around, and my structures have really been helping me.

  • I’ve been monitoring my self-care dashboard religiously, and I have obsessively made sure I’ve been maintaining these practices.
  • I’ve been good about playing basketball regularly, decent at seeing friends.
  • I keep a timesheet, so I know exactly how much time I spend working, where, and on what days.
  • I’ve been using SCRUM principles for realistic planning and a Kanban Board to track and prioritize my tasks.
  • I formed a “colearning” group with which I’ve been doing regular checkins, which increases my accountability.

All of these things have been working, and yet I’m feeling like I’m about to slip into the abyss again. The reasons are simple: I’m working too much, but I don’t want to slow down.

Earlier this week, I was in a meeting with Rebecca Petzel, where she said, “I’m better at setting boundaries than Eugene is, but I use his tools to help me do that.” She was paying me a compliment, but she was also being real, and she was right. All the tools in the world won’t help you unless you are committed to your goals.

So now I’m in an interesting place. I’m doing too much, and the pace is starting to get unsustainable, but I’m feeling the temptation to do even more. The solution is simple: Do less. Cut something out.

My brain and my gut knows all this to be true, and I know my body will eventually enforce it, but only after I put it through its paces. My heart hates this, and my habits are all oriented against doing it. I want to live a healthy, balanced life, but I also don’t want to stop doing anything that I’m currently doing.

So what will I choose? Because at the end of the day, you can put all of the structures in place that you want, but it still boils down to choice. Will this time be different?

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