For the umpteenth time, Arusha’s stomach rumbled.

She was running too late to eat breakfast in the morning. Once she reached office, she had been sucked into a whirlwind of fire- fights. She hadn’t even noticed lunch time come and go. It was almost five in the evening now.

With the first slack in her mad rush since morning, she finally found time to notice that she was weak with hunger.  She decided to finish the mail she was typing before heading out to the cafeteria for a filling meal. Just a few more minutes, she promised her grumbling stomach.

The internal  phone rang shrilly. Arusha cursed under her breath. What is it now, she petulantly asked the internal caller. Don’t tell me there’s another crisis! And it was!

An hour later, hungrier, more exhausted and a lot more drained, she lay slumped on her desk, too tired to go to the cafeteria. Her phone tinkled with an incoming mail. Oh God! Please let me die now, PLEASE! Let me cease to exist and if you can’t do that, at least make me invisible for a week. She smiled tiredly, realizing that she was foolishly trying to negotiate with God.

As she opened and read the mail, she froze in shock. Ten minutes later, her initial shock over, she stormed into her boss’s cabin in an insane temper.

“I quit!” she declared, distraught.

Before the man had a chance to react, she banged out of the cabin.


With all these forks in the roads of our path, why do so many choose to take the knife?

~ Anthony Liccione

I first came across the acronym H.A.L.T.nearly five years ago.

H.A.L.T. stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. Each one of these four physical or emotional conditions, if not taken care of, leave an individual very fragile and vulnerable.

In this vulnerable state, your larger-than-life reaction are operating on a hair-trigger. You take instant, irreversible, irrevocable decisions- huge, life changing ones which later prove to be bad, ineffective and even downright dangerous at times. Reality and perspective take a back seat as your vulnerable, fearful self runs amok, shoving you out maliciously on a two-foot ledge on a high rise building.

To take an important, life-changing decision when you are in this reduced emotional state, is a bad idea. You need to HALT all decision making when you are in a state of H. A. L. T.

If you want a new tomorrow, then make new choices today.

~ Tim Fargo

Hunger is a simple lack of food about which nothing is simple. Triggering a whole bunch of physiological responses from weakness, headaches, dizziness, depression, listlessness, social withdrawal, and apathy. You are hardly likely to appreciate Sunshine Avenue when you are hungry. You’d be a lot more at home in Pall Mall. The decisions you take in this state will likely be tainted by the same sombre outlook.

Anger is a complex emotion and one which carries the biggest psychological cost to us. There is nothing wrong with feeling anger but very few people know how to express it constructively. Poorly and ineffectively expressed anger turns situations toxic and create breeding grounds for resentment and malice. To take a decision in this very volatile state is the biggest mistake of all.

Loneliness is when your hunger is not physical but emotional. Hunger for attention, for comfort, for understanding or companionship. People who can give us this emotional sustenance are vital to our well-being. These like-minded people, these kindred souls, give us the soul food we crave. More often that not, the solution to this hunger is connection and community.

Tiredness has almost become a chronic state for some of us. It may be the result of a lack of sleep or of excessive physical effort. It is a serious condition that endangers our well-being as well as that of others. Tiredness is also the result of being overloaded and overwhelmed. Listlessness and apathy are heightened when you are tired. To take an important decision in this state is certainly a recipe for disaster.

Your life is the sum result of all the choices you make, both consciously and unconsciously. If you can control the process of choosing, you can take control of all aspects of your life. You can find the freedom that comes from being in charge of yourself.

~ Robert Bennett

Defer all major decision making when you are H.A.L.T. It isn’t really very difficult to tell yourself- or someone else- that you are not in an appropriate frame of mind to take a decision. You need time to think it over, you need to sort things out first, you need more information- these are effective ways of putting the breaks on a snowball hurtling downhill. Plenty of time to decide what you want to do when you are out of H.A.L.T.

Please HALT! Tomorrow is another day!

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36 thoughts on “HALT”

  1. I know the feeling. Especially what Arushi goes through. Have sometimes felt like barging into the boss’ cabin, yelling those two words and going off before he reacts. But yes, anger and frustration doesn’t help decisions I understand and when I am in that mood, I just tend to talk to friends to get my head sorted out. Have been in the other three phases of H.A.L.T too, but the A, I feel, comes more often. Informative, and thought provoking post, Dagny. 🙂

  2. Good one Dagny. We all need to HALT when we are down like that. Things can only look up after that. I was in that girl’s state a couple of years back when there was no time to even eat… I didn’t quit immediately, instead I did that after much thought and consideration and that is reassuring because I know the decision was not taken in haste or when I was H.A.L.T.

    1. That was very sensible of you Asha. As long as a decision is not taken ‘in the heat of the moment’ we can be reasonably assured of not having made a bad one. Thank you for coming by! 🙂

  3. I suppose I can proudly say, I’ve HALTed and am now no longer in H.A.L.T. Well, not most days anyway. And when I am, it’s mostly because of my own doing 😛 – lethargic, procrastinating, unplanned etc etc. Nice, thought-provoking post Dagny

  4. Great advice, Dagny! Halt all decision making when you are H.A.L.T. Some of the biggest life-changing decisions I have made in the recent years took me a very long time. But I realize now that while the initial seed of the decision/change/choice was planted in a second not through a rational process but more by an inner voice of some sort, the actual rationalization or reasoning that it was indeed the right decision or choice to make took its own sweet time, and that required a lot of patient and careful thinking through. Certainly couldn’t have done all that in a HALT state of mind.

    1. Ah that inner voice! How lucky you are that you are so much in tune with it at all times! I am sure you will always let it guide you. You give me a feeling of immense peace and serenity with your words. As always….! 🙂

  5. H.A.L.T. or HALT? Beautifully explained! Thanks for sharing this.

    With a bit of planning, and with back-up plans, each individual can prevent becoming H.A.L.T. It’s not very easy, but it’s not too difficult either. Each one of us must remember that, while we can make life better for ourselves, our families and the world at large, life had gone on for many years before we were born and will go on for many years after we die. So, not much will be lost if we use some time to have timely meals (thus avoiding H), etc..

    1. That was insightful Proactive Indian. I think we are too apt to lose the perspective of continuum and of our place in the larger scheme of things. We would do well to remember them.

      Thank you for coming by! 🙂

  6. That was simply such a beautiful, relevant and universally appealing post to all the people who are currently bang in the middle of the rat race that careers and professional lives are today.

    It truly is time to halt and think if we are in the H.A.L.T phase of our lives…..

    1. Tulika, I am sure that for most of us, the A is the major culprit for bad decisions. And when that meets with our propensity for dramatizing ourselves by making ‘grand gestures’, our goose is cooked. 😀

      Thank you for reading this!

  7. Pretty lethal combination is H.A.L.T for the well being of any human soul. Very well explained. Thank you for sharing. Before taking any decision, I will check to see if I am Hungry, Angry, Lonely or tired.

  8. Most of my emotions are based on Hunger. So, whenever I’m hungry – I feel tired and angry! So.. I eat. And then I sit down and think.
    I really try not to make decisions when I’m angry.. and so far its been good.
    I’ve made a few bad ones when I was angry in the past and I’ve learnt my lesson,

    1. That’s wonderful Hema! I have met many, many people who just don’t learn- neither from other people’s mistakes or from their own. You certainly aren’t one of them. What else is wisdom? 😀

  9. Very nicely explained Dagny, and such a relevant concept. Loved it, especially as my big issue is with the H and I can react a bit irrationally when I am hungry, even more so than for the A, L, T. Basically very relevant trigger points in daily life.

    1. I get horribly cranky when I am H too. Logic and reasonableness just go out of the window then. 😛
      Thanks for coming by…! 😀

  10. Good piece of advice this, Dagny. I have had my share of regrets because of HALT, esp. the A in the HALT, dealing with inefficient colleagues, back stabbers and what not.. I would let my anger get the better of me…. learnt this the hard way

  11. I was wondering what would have happened if she had walked off to the cafeteria without answering the phone call or the email! Was she the sole pillar propping up the company?! 😀
    I wonder why people do this to themselves?!

    1. We love to imagine that everything depends on us.

      What would have happened? Nothing would have happened. She’d not have had a melt down… she’d have dealt with the additional inputs better.

      Thanks a lot for your pithy comment. 😀

  12. Gosh we gotta learn to draw a line somewhere cause it is not us who run the company on our shoulders 😉

    When in HALT condition to make harsh decisions is likely 🙁

    1. Ruchira, I think we enjoy thinking that the world cannot function without us. I’ve frequently thought so myself. 😛

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