The Power of The Pause

The Pause

We tend to enter our next seasons consistent with how we finish our careers: rushing, accommodating back-to-back requests for our time and attention, and barely preparing for what’s next as we deal with what’s in front of us. We are tired. Stretched. Stressed. Yet, at the same time, we are hopeful. We want what we imagine as a respite from this cycle — but that seems far away and the path to get there is unclear.

And so we continue. Even as we enter our “retirement,” we do what is asked of us because that’s what we do. We are conditioned to say “yes,” to be helpful, supportive, and available.

We say “yes” because deep inside we worry that after we leave this job or role or company, no one will ask us anymore. We will lose our relevancy and they’ll go elsewhere.

And that’s where the nightmare ends.

Daylight truth: You will not lose your relevancy… and you don’t have to say yes. What you most need is to take a Pause. To say “no” to the many requests for your time and help. It’s not a forever “no,” but a for-now, “no.”  A not yet.

The Pause might be the single most important step in transitioning from your main career. It creates capacity in your days and weeks and life—in your head and in your heart—to accommodate new things that spark your interest, things that perhaps you had never thought about before. Things you want to do… not things you have to do.

The Pause doesn’t mean sitting around doing nothing. Rather, it means time to think, ponder, and respond to invitations you didn’t even know were coming, while doing something—a project, perhaps—that is of value and importance to you. Visiting family you are overdue to connect with. Repairing something at home. Cleaning out. Redecorating. Building new. Going to lunch with friends with no back-end time. Traveling. Playing more golf—without having to check email or respond to a work request. Catching up on much-needed sleep. Lingering with coffee as you catch up on the news. Reconnecting with old friends. Supporting a family member who is going through a hard time. Not being wedded to your cellphone or the stock ticker.

The Pause is different for each person.

Don’t rush into what’s next. Take a Pause.  Give yourself the gift of time to detox from the frenetic pace and schedule, while being incredibly choiceful about how you spend your time and with whom you spend it.

It may be the single most important gift you will ever give yourself.