This time of year has the potential to be both wonderful and overwhelming. We have the opportunity to connect, reflect and celebrate as well as attempt to finish our remaining goals, convene our coalitions at least one more time and finish the year well. When our to-do list gets longer than ever and we struggle focusing because “all the things” keep crowding our mind, the best thing to do is often the most difficult. During these moments, our best work is done when we stop working. We have to practice our pause in order to find ourselves in a place of peace, rhythm and productivity again. Join me this week as I provide three ways to practice your pause and move toward peace.
In every season, I read something new that emphasizes the importance of pausing and breathing. One of the books I am currently reading is The Worry-Free Parent (it’s so good!) and she reminds us of the importance of breathing in, pausing, breathing out, pausing, breathing in… (box breathing) which helps our bodies calm, rest and reset. This allows us to re-think our current situation and what is really most important right now. During dinner with our 7-year old daughter a few weeks ago, she said “Talk about the most important things right now.” Sometimes, we get overloaded with too many “most important” things and when we breathe deeply, we can reset and reconsider the level of importance of the things that can be overwhelming.
Take a break (with movement).
Stepping away from your desk and doing something active is a really powerful way to practice pausing. Even if you have limited time in the midst of a heavy meeting day, put on your tennis shoes and take a five minute walk (and breathe!). When we take breaks, we are able to be more productive on the things that are important to us. Although we may feel like we need to keep working in order to get it all done, when we take a break and walk, run, dance, practice yoga, etc. we will regain energy, focus, new perspectives and enhanced productivity. This is especially true when we go for our walk or run with no additional distractions (podcasts, phone calls, etc.) One of the spiritual disciplines I have been learning about and practicing as part of a group at our church is “solitude.” When I go for a walk in silence and solitude, I have increased awareness, insight, clarity, perspective, gratitude and peace.
Over the past several months, I have allowed my calendar to fill with meetings with other people. While our work often requires meetings in order to make progress on our key priorities, when we allow our days and weeks to be filled with meetings with other people, we are not able to spend the time we need to spend working on the most important things. We are also not allowing ourselves to have the margin needed to be rejuvenated. When we are constantly meeting and moving, we are not able to give our best to those around us nor are we able to clarify what is truly most important. As Michael Hyatt reminds us, “What gets scheduled, gets done.” And when we schedule time for pausing, breaking and focusing, we will be able to regain our rhythm and have time to work on the most important things (to us!).
As you reflect on practicing your pause, which of these three are you going to implement? Breathing, breaking and/or blocking?
One of my free resources that will help you practice your pause is my Escape the Overwhelm checklist. Check it out today!