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Saturday, 22 October 2016


Did you know: there is no noun derived from the word "overwhelm"? So why not create one? You never know when it could be useful.  I happen to belong to a family whose members (and one in particular) tend to make up words which don't exist, derived from existing words, which give greater meaning to the original. I don't remember who coined the word "Overwhelm-sion" (although I have my suspicions), but this is one of those great words. 

I haven't written for a few weeks, principally because of overwhelm-sion in my own life. My year has rocketed by and things have filled it for me at an alarming rate. By way of illustration, on Tuesday next week I will embark on a series of trips which will see me visit six countries around the world, return to my desk on 28 November and between now and then spend about 4 or 5 days at home. Somehow in the middle of the travel I will deal with work as it accumulates, respond to clients, prepare for talks at conferences and generally manage my office. And amongst all that I hope to stay healthy and do some exercise and a put in a bit of writing and find time to connect with my family. The rest of the year hasn't been hugely different, with a pitiful amount of leave interspersed.

Something eventually has to give with only 24 hours in each day. So I sit here wondering how that happened and how to not do that to myself. This isn't intended to be a self pity-party, but the forthcoming odyssey has finally got my attention.

I have always led a full life because there is so much that interests me and that I want to do. There's also the small matter of putting bread on the table. And there's also the holy grail of work-life balance to pursue, following what you are passionate about, and, and...

The truth for me is that, if I look back on my year, I started planning it by putting in doable commitments throughout the year and assuming that the rest of the year would fill itself out as it usually does with the day to day stuff that happens and that amongst that I would get some time for exercise, take some leave and so on. In other words, I left it to Life to take care of my life at some level. Life needs no greater invitation to come along and mess with people who have left too much in its hands. Although everything I originally planned and prioritised was about right (if I had taken on no more), I didn't put enough non-negotiable boundaries in place, so found myself trying to create space for stuff which wasn't originally planned. Result: overwhelm-sion.

Now, whilst we all know that "the way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans", the lesson is about absolutely deciding on your highest priorities when planning your life and honouring that which matters most. Everything else is a distraction which may require attention, but should be treated very circumspectly unless it will clearly enhance your bigger picture and priorities.

Anyway, I've got to where I have and will deal with it. Now for the challenge of off-setting my overwhelm-sion with a bit of underwhelm-sion.

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