Realizing something is wrong is half the battle, so cut yourself some slack.  If you don’t feel like you are at your best, work through those feelings and identify the source of your stress so you can address it, otherwise things most likely are just going to get worse, and the more irritated you are the more likely you are to make some really bad decisions. Why?  Well think of it this way- if a car’s alignment is off, the more you keep driving it the worse it will handle.  The same is true with humans.

When you run a diagnostic on yourself (something that usually works better when you talk it through with another individual) there are 8 areas of life that you want to take into account:

1. Finances– is your budget balanced? Cash flow issues are a huge source of stress, and to resolve them you either need to (1) tap into savings; (2) increase your income or (3) decrease your spending. Easier said than done, I know, but this is where consulting an expert might be incredibly beneficial.

2. Work– are you satisfied with what you are doing? Given that most of us spend 40 hours a week or more at work, it is important that we feel valued, and I do not just mean well compensated.  Are your efforts properly recognized?  Is your work environment friendly and comfortable?  If not, you have to speak up and advocate for some changes.

3. Partner– are you in sync with your life partner?  If not, what can you do to improve this key relationship?  If you don’t have a life partner- are you okay with that or does it bother you?  Finding and keeping a healthy partnership is a huge commitment– of both your time and effort.

4. Family–  are those in your family that you love doing okay?  Those of us that are part of the sandwich generation are going to have a particularly hard time balancing different needs between our aging parents and our young children.  Just remember, you cannot please everyone, so just do the best you can.

5. Health– are you taking good care of yourself?  For those of us conditioned as athletes to eat right, exercise and rest to keep the machine functioning properly, this comes as second nature, but the majority of you need to work at this– seriously, you will be of no use to anyone, including yourself if you are ill.

6.  Appearance– are you satisfied with the way you and/or or your house look?  It is important to feel good about yourself and your home.  If you are not happy with yourself or your sanctuary, it will affect your overall outlook, and let’s face being embarrassed or feeling insecure are not sexy qualities.

7. Spirituality– do you make time to connect with a higher power?  You don’t necessarily have to go to church to connect with God.  Maybe you your thing is connecting with nature, or volunteering and connecting with those less fortunate.  The point is to have a healthy perspective, it is important to remember on a regular basis that the world does not revolve around us, and rather we are here as its humble servants during the limited time we have here on Earth.

8. Friends– have you built a good core network of people that share your values and interests?  Sadly, I see many that just focus on work and their nuclear family, and they have neglected to develop lasting friendships.  We are not meant to live in isolation, and connecting with others is an important part of the human experience.

If you find yourself making bad decisions, run through this list above and try to figure out what is bothering you the most.  You may need to rank these items in order of priority, and then set realistic goals by coming up with an action plan to address one issue at a time. And I mean it- one issue at a time– you cannot tackle it all at once.

Just remember Rome was not built in one day, but you do need to hold yourself accountable. Reassess your progress on a regular basis, and if you need help (and I am sure that you will) that is what friends are for, and that is why I saved the best for last on my list, when really friends should be on top, for if there is one thing I have found to be true it is this: good friends are the key to avoiding those bad decisions– and when that fails, well, they will at least rally to your rescue and later help you laugh about those momentary lapses of reason.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.