YSK what to do if you think you are being followed

Don’t be so predictable

“You need to understand that ‘random acts of violence’ usually aren’t random at all. People who kidnap Americans overseas don’t just wake up and say, ‘Let’s grab someone today.’ They do a lot of surveillance,” Erickson says. “They look for travel patterns of Americans in hotels. What time do you leave? Where do you go? Is there anything predictable about your movements? So job one is to make your movements as unpredictable as possible. Sometimes take the stairs, sometimes take the elevator. Leave and return at varying times. Don’t always follow the same path out on the streets.”

Finding the time to get into the zone

We’re all busy. Whether we’re juggling demanding careers, family life or both, most of us feel as if we can’t cram anything more into our schedules. But Ms. Vanderkam wants to dispel that idea. “When you say you don’t have time, what you’re really saying is, it’s not a priority,” she said. While there are definitely moments in which we legitimately don’t have time to spare, most of us can find a little time if we know how to look.

To figure out where extra time lives in your schedule, she recommends thinking of time in weeks, rather than days. A week “is really the cycle of life as people actually live it,” she said. Each week is made up of 168 hours. If you work 40 hours and sleep eight hours each night, that still leaves 72 hours. “Maybe you can carve out a few hours of really fun, cool stuff per week. That will make the other 165 hours that are in a week feel a lot more doable,” she explained.


Confirm that you’re not just being paranoid

Erickson is a big believer in listening to those “not-so-warm-and-fuzzy feelings” you sometimes get for no reason. But for sanity’s sake, here are some simple ways to prove your spidey senses are correct.

  • Use mirrors or windows to watch people behind you.
  • Make unexpected stops, go places you wouldn’t normally go, change your pace or your route. Is someone who walks your normal path suddenly also at these random locations, too?
  • Jump in a taxi and take it one block and get back out. Did someone do the same thing behind you?
  • Walk your normal path, then make a show of “forgot my keys” and turn around and go back the other way. Did they start going the other way, too? This method also gives you a good excuse to get a good look at the face of the guy you think is following you so you can give a description.
  • If you’re in a car, get in a traffic circle and go all the way around and pop out on the road you were just on. Did someone stay with you?
  • Flip on your turn signal. See if they do, too. Then just continue driving straight. Did they continue straight as well?

Working on yourself makes you the best possible you

Whether you engage in a hobby for its own sake or as a career driver, self-improvement is a win-win.

“If you open yourself to new experiences by gradually stepping outside your comfort zone, you can find the things that truly make you happy,” Mr. Rea explained. “And whether those things become hobbies or your life’s work, pursuing your passions can give you a renewed sense of meaning and accomplishment.”

We can all use a little more of that, regardless of where we find it.


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