#31: Help, I need to slow down and pause anymore

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I’d like to ask you a couple of questions. Take your time to think about how relevant these questions are to you and try to formulate an honest answer for yourself.

Do you know people who kept and kept going and kept delivering and couldn’t stop anymore and went in overdrive? Till the point of burning out?
How hard is it for you to pause?
Can you still concentrate?
Are you delivering what you want at the level you want?

Pausing is incredibly important. When we look at successful leaders like Bill Gates, Jeff Weiner, or Warren Buffett, we can see that they all have one thing in common; incorporating pausing in their life. They pause A LOT. But why do they pause so much? What is the importance of pausing?

Importance of pausing

1-  Managing your mindset before your actions

In a world like ours, that is changing so fast, it is essential that you pause to manage your mindset before taking action. Why do you ask?
If you are constantly running and running, putting things in place and executing tasks, you will often get a result you did not want. You get in this loop where whatever action you take, it still will not yield the result you have been looking for. This is an excellent indication for you to pause and manage your mindset. With this new mindset, you will suddenly see actions that were not visible to you before and you will be able to work more efficiently.

2- Knowing what you want

It is essential that you know what you want, not only in the short term but also in the long term. If you don’t have a clue what you want and are just executing tasks, you are no better than these automatic robots from The Matrix. You will not know what to say yes to or what to say no to and you will easily be overwhelmed by accepting every request. So take the time to pause, take the red pill to see what you want, and escape the matrix!

3- Managing your energy

You really need to pause to manage your energy, because let’s face it, you probably have never faced as many challenges as you are today. When you are stressed and exhausted, you will stay in your comfort zone and resist change. But in order to stay relevant as a leader, you need to adapt to this world and acquire new skills. To do that, you need a lot of energy to be able to cope with these new challenges and changes. Because when you feel fresh and happy, you will seize the opportunities you can and fix the threats you have.

4- Activating your creative brain

Research has shown that your creative brain only activates when your rational brain isn’t active. You probably have noticed that a lot of great ideas come to you when you are showering, when you are cooking or when you wake up in the morning. It only takes one great and creative idea to compensate for hundreds of hours of work. That’s why it is so important to take your time to slow down and pause and let all the great and crazy ideas fill your head!

You now know a couple of reasons why it is so important to slow down and give yourself a break. You surely knew that taking a break is important, but you still have a hard time allowing yourself to pause. Why is this and what can you do about it? Don’t worry, I got your back 😉. I’ll explain it right away and give you five tips to help you slow down and allow yourself to pause.

Difficulties of pausing

If you want to become a successful leader in this rapid, uncertain, and complex world, you have to learn to stop and to take the time to transform yourself instead of working operationally all the time. But why is it so hard to pause?

The answer is actually quite simple. It has been deeply ingrained in you that you can only pause once your work is finished. This has been taught to you in school and has been the norm ever since. The problem is that with all the requests we get and the 24/7 connected world we live in, work is never finished. And so pausing means going against who you learned to be. That’s why it feels so unnatural and uncomfortable to pause when our work isn’t over. When pausing you start to feel guilty, you start to feel the tension you have been enduring all this time and that is something most people resent. That’s why it is so easy to go straight back to work and ignore these uncomfortable feelings. So what can you do to finally pause and get the results you truly deserve?

5 tips to help you pause

1- Remember why you are pausing

You are not pausing because you are lazy. You are pausing because you need to manage your energy and your mindset. You are pausing because it will allow you to analyse things creatively and learn new skills. That’s why you are pausing.

2- Give yourself permission to pause

The people who are often the hardest on you… well… is actually yourself. So be nice to yourself and give yourself that permission to take a break and slow down.

3- Plan your pauses

Plan your pauses! The more pauses you plan, the less unplanned pauses you will have to take afterward. See these pauses as very important meetings with yourself that you cannot cancel. You can postpone them if necessary, but never cancel them! If you cancel them or repeatedly postpone them, you will need these unplanned pauses that will not always come at a great moment.

4- Accept what you are feeling

It often happens that we cannot pause because we don’t like the sensations that we feel in our bodies like guilt, tension, restlessness. We want to escape these feelings by working even harder. So learn to simply notice these sensations and to accept them, it will make it much easier to stop and take a break for yourself.

5- Practice pausing

Like I’ve said before, it has been ingrained in our system to keep working until the task is completed. This connection has deep roots in our brain and that’s why it feels unnatural and uncomfortable to break that pattern. So focus on creating and strengthening this new connection by pausing by practicing it, even though it will feel uncomfortable at first. Research has shown it takes 66 days on average to create a new habit, so I’d like to ask you to challenge yourself and practice pausing for 66 days!

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