The Power of Pausing & How to do it Like a Pro!

MarvaeLeadership2 Comments

When was the last time you pressed pause? Not escaping – distracting yourself with an activity that you find enjoyable – but truly pausing? Reflecting?

In an effort to keep up with the perceived demands of life and work, your pace is frantic. You’ve convinced yourself that working faster will result in getting more done. And whenever possible, doing multiple things at once – even better, right? Wrong!

Do you find yourself perpetually trying to catch up? Making more mistakes than you’d like? Forgetting things? Lacking the creativity you need to address the problems and challenges you face? Finding it hard to sleep and feeling exhausted? Perhaps it’s time to take control of the pace of your life.

Did you know that in the last decade, the pace of life has increase by 10% according to research done by an International study?

Curious if your pace is quicker than it needs to be?

Here is a simple way to assess if your pace:

1) Do you seem to glance at your watch more than others?
2) When someone takes too long to get to the point, do you feel like hurrying them along?
3) Are you often the first person to finish at mealtimes?
4) When walking along a street, do you often feel frustrated because you are stuck behind others?
5) Would you become irritable if you sait for an hour without doing anything?
6) Do you walk out of restaurants or shops if you encounter even a short queue?
7) If you are caught in slow-moving traffic, do you seem to get more annoyed than other drivers?

-created by Richard Wiseman, Ph. D. – author of Quirkology: How We Discover Big Truths in the Small Things.

If you answered yes to five of these questions – you might want to slow your pace of life down!

Operating at a frantic pace is quite costly! It affects the quality of your work, relationships, and health! Sadly, by the time you realize how harmful your pace is, it is often too late!

Work/Life balance is a popular topic. And balance is a very precarious thing. Imagine yourself in Tree Pose – the yoga balance pose where you stand on one leg while the other leg is bent and your foot is resting on your ankle, knee, or thigh of the standing leg, depending on your abilities, while holding your arms over head, with palms together. And, if you are very skilled,  doing it all with your eyes closed. Tree Pose seems quite simple, yet is requires constant adjusting and tweaking to maintain your balance.

Life is a lot like holding Tree Pose. It isn’t something you can do in a hurry. It takes practice and it involves paying attention to what needs to be adjusted. Without periodically pausing and taking the time to reflect on what needs tweaking in your life, you will burn out.

Taking time to reflect is beneficial for everyone, but as a leader, it is all the more essential for you to make space in your life for reflection. In order to do that, you have to be disciplined, intentional, focused, and able to prioritize – all qualities essential for a leader. The process of reflecting encourages self-awareness – another key quality in an effective leader.

Is it time for you to hit pause and reflect?

If so, here are a few simple questions to help you to get the process rolling:

  1. What’s working?
  2. What’s not working?
  3. What needs to change?
  4. What actions do I need to take?
Do you want to probe a little deeper?

Apply the “5 Whys” to your answers to help you gather more useful information. For example, as I reflected on what worked at the end of last month one of the things I listed was this:

I successfully made space in my life to do regularly do something I love.
(This is one of the changes I was making this year.)

Here’s what applying the “5 Whys” looks like:

Why? When I do things I love I have more energy for work and the people I love.
Why? It fuels my creativity.
Why? It slows me down and allows my mind to wander, ponder, and back burner problem solve.
Why? I am not focused on a project, client, or something I have to get done.
Why? Because I have given myself permission to pause and engage in something I enjoy.

Following the thread of 5 whys, allows you to make new discoveries and connections that you might not make without taking the time to explore. These discoveries can be invaluable in helping you determine how to move forward in a more intentional way so that you can work smarter, not harder! And that will allow you to alter your pace to one that is more realistic not to mention more enjoyable!

Are you beginning to see the value of pausing to reflect? I hope so! I would encourage you to get in the habit of pausing to reflect.  Here are some great ways to create your own rhythm of reflecting. You can reflect…

  • At the end of the day, week, month, quarter, and/or year.
  • Following a project or reaching a goal
  • After a meeting, sales call, coaching call, etc.
Brave enough to go even deeper?

Here are a few more reflection questions you might want to ask yourself:

  1. What surprised me?
  2. What did I learn?
  3. How do I feel?
  4. What’s energizing me?
  5. What’s bogging me down?
  6. How am I honoring my values or my organization’s values?
  7. What’s been more of a priority than it needs to be?
  8. What have I been ignoring or avoiding that’s impacting my future?
  9. Who can help me move towards the future I am working towards?
  10. How do I need to grow in order to be successful in this constantly changing world?

Making the investment to reflect is the first step. However, you must make adjustments based on what you discover while reflecting and take action before it will positively impact your life. Jumping back to my example above, I realized how making space to do the things I love was positively contributing to my life. It has motivated me to do more of what I love and to make it a priority. Without taking the time to explore what was working in my life, I can guarantee you the pressures of life would have eventually crowded out the space to do the things I love. Now I am protective of that time!

Another way to make sure you are making time to pause and reflect is to work with a coach. It forces you to schedule productive pause time into your life. A coach will help you explore in ways you might not ever think to do on your own, leading to some powerful discoveries and more effective ways of living and leading!

Is it time for you to hit pause? How is your pace impacting your life?

© Can Stock Photo / cobalt88

2 Comments on “The Power of Pausing & How to do it Like a Pro!”

  1. I teach music lessons in the community and when summer hits, cancellations are many. Unfortunately, most are last-minute, which translates into a student’s spontaneity tying up my time that could have been channeled elsewhere . Saturday was the straw that broke the camel’s back when I didn’t accompany my husband on a kayaking trip because I had three students scheduled. Each one cancelled, last minute, and there I sat at home, steaming. It was a moment when I hit that “pause” you allude to in your post, and reevaluated my methods, my expectations, my values, etc and came up with things I think will help get the train back on the track. I like your principle of hitting pause regularly — instead of waiting for the camel’s back to break. 🙁

    1. Those sudden changes in schedules can be a serious annoyance or a gift depending on how you chose to see them. Viewing such interruptions as a gift is significantly less stressful and it forces you to be on the look out for the good in the situation rather than dwelling on the perceived bad.

      It can be easy to feel like things are out of control in those surprise moments, but when you pause and reflect, it is easier to come up with creative ways to be more proactive. Things like setting clear expectations with your students and establishing policies that make cancellations less likely.

      Happy scheduling more pause time into your life April!

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