So many of us are working under the barrage of daily tasks, emails, project goals, managing people and a myriad of to do lists. We focus our minds downward in our attempts to get it all done.

How would it feel if we raised our heads and looked at the horizon? What might we see? Chances are there are a few red flags waving back at us.

Each of us has our own red flags. They stick themselves firmly in the ground and announce their presence oh so subtly. For me, I know when my focus wanes it is my red flag that I am stressed. Confusion tells me I am likely at odds with my values and the work I am doing.

For others, the red flag may appear as loss of appetite, sleep and avoiding the gym; we are working too hard than is realistic.

It is funny how others can see our red flags sooner than we can. We dismiss our flags or make excuses like “I deserve another glass of wine”, or “this project won’t get done without me”. Those closest to us notice the lines on our faces and our inability to make decisions. So why can’t we see the flags?

There is a simple progression that results when we don’t pay attention:

red flags -> to stress -> to burn out -> to stuck

How can we learn to see to our red flags?

1. Take a break
2. Let your mind wander and do not think about anything to do with your everyday work and patterns
3. Have compassion

For some of us, meditation can help us reveal the uncomfortable feelings we are having. For others it is as simple as putting down our pencils and choosing to do something completely different like taking a long walk or a weekend away alone. The important thing is to start by removing yourself from the current pattern of your every day. Creating distance so that you can lift your head up.

The next step is to let your mind explore. Let it wander. The purpose is to avoid thinking about anything we do in our everyday patterns. Every time your mind wanders back to your work or other demands in your life, let those thoughts drift away.

Finally, remove any judgment you may have about yourself. Think of yourself with kindness and joy. True compassion comes when we start to realize we are perfect in every moment.

This process will give space for new perceptions to emerge. What I know will appear is a view of your red flags. You will start to notice those things that are getting in your way. Your instincts will become more acute and will act as guides to reveal your red flags. It takes practice and isn’t a one time event. Creating a different way of seeing takes time and commitment.

Knowing what is getting in your way is the first step in your journey of awareness. It offers the chance to know your flags and choose how you want them to influence your life. Ultimately, are they telling you it is time to make a change?

Do you know what your red flags are?
How might they be holding you back?