Knowing when to say when

Stress 39/365

Better late than never, that's what they always say, right?

I've had a project on my plate for a while that started out as one thing and then morphed in to something totally different. The problem is, I didn't notice the fact that it was morphing until I had already done a shit ton of work on it. More than I probably should have before noticing a huge underlying issue. It's at this point that I made the first vital mistake.

At this point what I should have done was to stop working, contact the client and let him know the issue I found and reevaluate the project, the direction and the solution. But instead, I soldiered on throwing more hours in to the project.

The next thing to happen is what always happens when a project starts to run long, other commitments start getting in the way and the available time to work on the previous project seems to disappear. Eventually enough time passed and the client starts asking about the project. It's at this time that we finally have that talk that should have happened weeks ago. The project is off-track and the direction needs shifting.

After the talk with the client, new goals were set in place. But once again, I misjudged the amount of work the project was going to take. I dug in, got some pieces of it done and before I knew it, I had once again put in far too many hours. My problem this time; guilt. I felt terrible about how long the project had drug on. I felt terrible about the lack of focused attention. I pretty much just felt terrible all around.

Two words: Vicious Cycle
By no means is this an excuse, but, the month of august has royally sucked. We've had more than our fair share of crap hit us and it's all added up to a huge pile of stress. One thing I've learned is that when enough stress piles up, my ability to focus has a tendency to fly out the window. So in the case of this project, it was causing me stress by taking so long, which would in turn cause me to lose focus… which would then cause more stress. I felt like I was riding the stress-go-round and I needed off. Now!

I wrote the email I was dreading. I let the client know I needed out. This wasn't about money. This wasn't about hours. This was me realizing I had screwed up long ago and every minute I continued on this path was wasting everybody's time. I felt sick writing that email. But the second I hit send and couldn't take it back, a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I could literally FEEL the stress leaving my body.

Sometimes I am my own worst enemy. By not paying attention to the writing on the wall I can sometimes get my self in to pretty crappy situations.

As with many of my blog posts, I write them as a reminder to myself. But, there is one take away that I think is universal; take a few minutes and reevaluate when the stress starts to build. You'll thank yourself for it later. I know I did.

[stress photo by Crashmaster007 on flickr]