By Kristin van Ogtrop
Updated January 16, 2015
Dan Winters

You would think that I’d know this about myself by now, but it recently hit me that I have self-destructive tendencies.

Does this ever happen to you? You find an ambitious home-improvement job and think, I can do that! Then a friend asks you to help on a neighborhood project that sounds like fun, so you say “Yes!” And then your son’s school is having a big fund-raiser that requires parental participation, and because you both support the school and never want to be considered a Parent Who Does Not Pitch In, you say “Yes!” to that, too. It’s all so terrific and exciting, and you are so, so capable. Isn’t your life fantastic?

And then it starts. You wake up at 5:45 a.m., no matter what time you go to bed or when the alarm is set to go off. You start to hate everybody (just slightly), even people who commit the most banal offenses, like greeting you with a smile in the morning. You snap at your children and coworkers and begin to feel generally angry and resentful. Why? Because you have SO MUCH TO DO.

Face it: You have Self-Inflicted To-Do Listosis (SITDL). Yes, these projects are enjoyable and worthwhile. They improve your life and the lives of others. However, that does not mean they will not, when taken as a whole, bring even a strong woman like you to her knees, in a puddle of tears, unrecognizable to all, including her family and friends.

The problem is simple. You (and by “you” here, I mean “I”) have too many projects, and you’ve brought it all on yourself. So even though you are not a drug addict or a sex addict or a kleptomaniac, you may still have self-destructive tendencies. And now it’s December. And you know what that means.

SITDL is rampant in December. I’m not sure there is a cure, unless the cure is January. But there are steps you can take to lessen the pain. In our December 2013 issue, you will find a genius package to help you organize your schedule, yourself, and your stuff during the season when you are supposed to be most happy and grateful (and, deep down, you are!!!) but may sometimes feel angry and resentful because you have taken on more than you can handle. Your heart is in the right place, to be sure. But you need to stop waking up before the alarm goes off and know that when people smile hello in the morning, it’s just that: a smile. So, take the self-destruction out of the to-do list, and begin to smile back.