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The power of pausing

We are all bombarded by requests and demands. We often have a sense of urgency in responding either “yes” or “no,” but what if we decided to wait – to pause – before responding?

I believe there is great power in pausing and have found this to be particularly helpful in making the best decision possible for me and for my work with others.  Depending upon our mood or perspective at the time of the request, if we respond quickly, we may say “yes” way too often and then find ourselves completely overwhelmed to accomplish all of our “yes’s” (usually my problem) OR we may turn down an opportunity that might be a great one but someone asked us at a moment or season that we are too busy and overwhelmed to really evaluate it properly.

Here are 3 things I encourage you to do when you take that moment to “pause” before responding “yes” or “no”.

  1. Evaluate whether the request fits into your current priorities and commitments.  If this request aligns with what you are already focused on and may even help you achieve your top priorities as well, then this might be a really great option.  However, if this request is outside your current priorities, even if it’s a good thing, or it’s a person you really respect, I highly recommend turning it down.  We only have a limited amount of time in our day and week and every “yes” is an automatic “no” to something else.  If we keep saying “yes” to things that distract us from our priorities and commitments, then we are demonstrating that those are not our true priorities and commitments.
  2. Review what you are already saying “yes” to in your life.  I don’t know about you, but some days I just “feel” like I have a lot more time, and other days I “feel” like I am completely overwhelmed. When you take the time to pause, you can write down ALL of the things you are saying yes to in your life.  The more visual, the better. You may have a whiteboard or a notebook or a large piece of paper, but I encourage you to really write it down and evaluate it closely before making that next decision. If you make a decision without examining the other “yes’s,” you are likely to underestimate the time you have already allocated to other things.  I encourage you to try doing this kind of exercise at least once per quarter even if no one has asked you for anything at the moment. Although, you probably don’t have too many days that don’t include someone asking something of you! 🙂
  3. Examine why you would say “yes” to this request or this person. Are you saying yes because you think you owe someone something or perhaps to please someone?  Do you really want to say “yes” or do you think you “should” say yes?  While there are times it is important to support our partners and their work, be very cautious with your “yes” and remember to reflect on #1 and #2!  If you are only saying “yes” out of obligation and you don’t really want to do it, then be honest. If you know it does not fit well within your current priorities or schedule but you hate letting down a friend, then I encourage you to be courageous.  Courageously and kindly say “no” or “not right now.” And again, I really like Michael Hyatt’s “no” response, “In order for me to fulfill my existing commitments, I cannot…..”

What are you going to “pause” on this week?

Photo by Quentin Dr on Unsplash

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