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Take a Break! Use the “Power of the Pause”

By Sharon Lewis

Take a Break!  Use the “Power of the Pause” image Power of the Pausel

This time of year is famous for resolutions and promises of new habits. How do I increase my impact? Become more productive? Make the time for new hobbies and volunteer activities? Why now as we enter a New Year? Truly—isn’t any time, any day, anywhere—as good a time as any to change for the better.

The “Power of the Pause”

During this Holiday Season of toasts and resolutions, I am reminded of the famous commencement speech given by Maria Shriver on the “Power of the Pause.”

When someone asks you, “What-are-ya-gonna-do?…” Be it a personal or professional question, the advice is to “Just pause and be aware of this fundamental truth: its okay not to know what you’re going to do! It’s okay not to have all the answers.” Please do not beat yourself up for not knowing.

Can you remember a time when you responded to a request quickly? No reason. It just seemed to be an easy enough task to do and your expedited response could delegate it elsewhere while taking it off your plate and allowing you to delete it from your email. Yes, this is often the wise choice. However…

Five Examples of the “Power of the Pause”

The Shriver speech then goes on to discuss the concept of always racing onto the Next Thing, whatever that Next Thing is. Here are five reasons to consider a pause as we race forward into 2014:

1. With workplace engagement levels at an all time low, 2014 may indeed present fruitful returns when one takes a moment to extend a moment to pause to a fellow colleague:

  • To be more inclusive.
  • To let someone else see that you do not have all the answers; perhaps your colleague can provide clarity. The pause, as the Shriver speech suggests, can be powerful in our interactions.

2. With so many opportunities to share best practices, pause to check out another perspective. The MENG Blog, for example, is among other sources for thoughtful leadership insights.

3. We have real deadlines and we have self imposed deadlines. Whenever possible, use the “Power of the Pause” to walk away from the subject so that you can return with a fresh set of eyes and ears…did you ever breathe a sigh of relief when you reread a document with a fresh set of eyes? The pause served to redirect your energies so that you returned with a new perspective.

4. Any of those 2014 resolutions repetitive of those not yet accomplished in 2012 or 2013? Pause to reflect on a new approach to completing your objectives. Remember Einstein’s theory on making the same mistake twice?

5. Use the “Power of the Pause” to allow yourself to live in the moment. A number of published studies address the importance of concentrating on the present. In each of the individual studies, psychologists found that people are distracted from the task at hand nearly half the time, and that this daydreaming consistently makes them less happy. We let the present slip away while we dream about the future or ruminate about the past. Hence another reason to pause and experience the moment.

Today, not January 1st, let’s take the time to pause and to live in the moment.

Happy Holidays!