Monday, July 12, 2010

The Art Of Pressing Pause

Breakdowns are inevitable. They are more than just a bump in the road. They usually occur when the journey has gotten so bumpy that you're starting to get nauseous. However they can also happen when you think there is only smooth sailing ahead, when out of nowhere a giant pothole  looms in front  and before you can swerve the car, you are inside of it with no clue how to get out.

A breakdown can be the signal for a Reinvention. But they are also part of Reinvention's journey. You don't get to go for your passion without having to pull off the side of the road to take a moment every now and then.

There are those who advocate never slamming on the brakes. They prefer to muddle on, without clarity of thought and  thick with the exhaustion the breakdown caused. They believe there is no gain without pain. For them the work is only about pushing ahead.

I'm not one of them.  My experience has been pushing forward when you can't see straight  only results in  walking in circles. Sometimes you have to press  pause  and take a moment to get clear.

What do you do with that moment?

Breathing is always a good start. It is very underrated but it is amazing how a few simple deep breaths can bring you back from the edge. Writing out my rage and frustration also benefits as does a particularly strenuous workout at the gym. A manicure or a silly TV show that makes me laugh or a call to a member of my cheering squad is a great antidote.  I am a big fan of trying to find not only the humor in the mess, but how you can turn it around to serve your purpose.  That doesn't work for everyone. The trick is to find what it is  that lifts you up and away from the situation so you can gain perspective.

How long to pause?

That depends on the severity of the breakdown and how well you learn to hone this skill. I recommend setting the timer, twenty minutes, an hour, the afternoon. But once you get the hang of it, the gift of the pause button is that it gives you a perspective and a chance to remember the reason you have chosen the path you did, it clears the energy, and allows you to look at something from a new angle. Then you can dive back into the work, only this time instead of trying to push that car out of a sinkhole, you are pulling it from above with the aide of a tow truck. And pulling is so much easier than pushing. Except of course when its the pause button.
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