Pause Blog On Overload, Overwhelm & Life In General

Pause Gem #30 – Answer The Good News Question

Count Blessings-wReflection & Action: I caught a ride on a beautiful fall day with a cab driver who could easily have taken the grand prize for the world’s darkest outlook on life. In response to my comments on the freshness of the morning, the beauty of the autumn leaves, and the glassy calm of Wascana Lake, he responded in turn, “Frost last night – gonna make the harvest tough! Just reminds me winter’s coming! It’s never like that when I go fishing!”

I’m sure if he won a hundred thousand dollars in the lottery, he wouldn’t waste a minute celebrating. He would launch right into a litany of complaints about the uselessness of a prize that small!

Our mindset has a lot to do with our experience of the day.  It is possible to shift from pure pessimism to a more optimistic response to life. It’s a matter of attention. What do you notice? What do you hang on to? How do you start your conversations with yourself and others?

As day’s end nears, and you shut down your computer, pull on your coat, or jump in the car to head home, ask yourself this simple question: “What went well today?”

Ask the same question of colleagues as you close up shop, and of family members as you gather for the evening. Yes, you’ll eventually get to the complaints, but at least the good news of the day will hold center stage and pride of place. That’s all it takes to start the shift of focus. Read More…

Posted under Appreciation, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

Pause Gem #29 – The Gift Of Stopping

Stop Light-wReflection & Action: If you drive, you will be very familiar with red lights and stop signs. It’s a sign of our preoccupation with getting places fast, that those lights and signs often seem to be working against us and in favor of the opposing traffic.

When you are out on the highway, you are sure to find yourself stuck behind a slow moving vehicle of one sort or another. Slow, of course, is a relative concept. When you are in a rush, slow may mean that the unit ahead is ‘just’ driving the speed limit.

With more multi lane highways and passing lanes, slower moving traffic is less of a problem than it was during the days of single lane highways and Air Stream trailer convoys. Still, for most of us, patience is not a strong point in our high-speed non-stop world.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Read More…

Posted under Appreciation, Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Travel, Wellness

Pause Gem #28 – Are You Sporting Badges Of Honour?

Editor’s Note: During the months of July and August, your weekly Pause Blog posts will feature the ‘Best of Pause’. These are readers’ favorite messages from the earlier years of the Pause e-zine. Featuring these Pause Gems will give me a bit of a breather, and also introduce our newer subscribers to some of those early editions.

Whether you are a long time subscriber, or new to our list, I sincerely hope you enjoy these messages. Come September, your Pause messages will once again feature all new info and resources.

PS – The Summer Reading Bookshelf shares the titles of some of the books I’ll be dipping into over the next couple of months.

 

BadgesOfHonourReflection & Action: From time to time, I have worked with colleagues who sparred for brownie points by quizzing each other about issues like these: How late did your meeting run last night? How many weekends will you be on the road? How many holidays are you carrying over? How many miles have you clocked on the company car? What’s the points total on your frequent flyer plan? How many emails stacked up while you were on vacation?

More recently, I listened to a panel of work-life balance experts talk about their successes and failures in balancing their own busy lives. They admitted they were challenged to live up to the goals they set for themselves. That’s true for all of us. Still, something in the tone of their responses seemed to suggest that it was okay for their lives to be out of whack because they were doing such important work.

It took me back to other conversations where professional or personal success were measured in terms of load, distance, sacrifice, and ‘face time’. The scale paid little attention to results and none at all to balance.

Eavesdrop on the tone of your own conversations with friends and colleagues when you talk about work-life balance. Read More…

Posted under Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines

PAUSE – 14.25 – Renewal On The Go

Bright Boxes-wReflection: It can be tempting (especially if you like things neat and tidy) to compartmentalize life, assigning each role its own box and time slot. Work is work. Vacation is vacation. Play is…well, hard to come by.

In today’s world, it’s next to impossible to contain life this way. It’s far more likely that we will be able to make time for more of the things we care about if we allow them to rub shoulders with each other – overlapping in the natural messiness and flow of life.

On this morning’s walk (which is, by the way, when I get some of my best ideas for Pause messages) I was thinking back to some of the combos that have danced their way through my life.

When our girls played outdoor soccer, I used to alternate visiting in my lawn chair on the sidelines with walking around the perimeter of the field while the game played on. Exercising, socializing, and supporting my daughters in one fell swoop.

For several summers, the girls took swimming lessons at an outdoor pool. While they swam, I caught up on my business reading while catching a few rays myself.

Over the years, I’ve invited my mom and my daughters to accompany me on business road trips. One on one chat time is precious; and it sure beats hearing the same tired radio newscast over and over again. Now that I have a grandson in Calgary, I try to route travel to or from my Alberta speaking engagements through that city to catch time with the little guy.

These days, my paints and sketchbook travel with me. Sketching makes time on the road more enjoyable and flight delays more bearable. Even though life may be busy with work, I still have time for art.

 

Action: There are times to turn off the biz world, and be only with family. There are times to be single mindedly focused on business while letting other roles cool their hoofies on the sidelines. And, there are times to encourage the bits and pieces of our lives to mix and mingle.

Look for ways to create a few more renewal combos in your world. In the face of the daily grind: add experiences that lift your spirits, mix in activities that renew your energy, and take actions that strengthen your relationships.

Read More…

Posted under Appreciation, Life Balance, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 14.24 – Tune Out To Tune In

Reflection: I’ve been thinking recently that I wouldn’t mind being listless for a while. I don’t mean in the traditional sense of the word: lethargic, apathetic, or weary. Nor do I mean without a list of things to do – although that would be welcome on occasion.

What I’m actually referring to is the proliferation of lists that circulate on social media and grace the covers of books and magazines everywhere. Here are a few recent examples:

  • 14 Things You Should Do On Your Lunch Break Every Day
  • 17 Things Extremely Happy People Say Every Day
  • 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently
  • 22 Quick Habits to Add To Your Daily Morning Routine
  • 30 Things To Start Doing For Yourself – or its sister list: 30 Things To Stop Doing To Yourself

Add ‘em up. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

I know these lists are published with the best of intentions – mostly to energize or inspire. And I grant you there is valuable advice in many of them. Heck, I’ve even created a few of these types of lists myself.

But here’s my challenge. When I spend too much time paying attention to these lists, I find myself in Tower of Pisa mode – tilted and off balance. I feel less effective and more inadequate because I’m not doing more or behaving differently.

You, too, might find yourself listing just a tad under the weight of what the advice aggregators believe we could or should be doing.

 

Action: With all these voices whispering instructions in your ear and putting ideas in your head, it’s hard to hear the one still quite voice that counts the most. That would be your own. Read More…

Posted under Life Balance, Life in General, Miscellaneous, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 14.23 – Are You Breaking The Flow?

Timer-wReflection: What joy it can be to find yourself ‘in the flow’. You’re supremely focused on the task at hand – caught up in concentration and creativity.

Yet, like most of life’s experiences, flow has its shadow side, too.

It’s possible to become so intent on the task at hand that we lose perspective or ignore our body’s calls for attention.

In a painting class I took from acclaimed watercolor artist, Charles Reid, we often worked with a live model. Charles insisted that the model break from the pose every 30 minutes.

Occasionally the model would protest saying he was just fine with sitting longer. Charles always responded, “Well, we’re not.”

Then he’d rise from the stool in front of his easel, stroll around, and step outside for a few minutes to either get some fresh air or smoke his pipe. We all followed his lead – well except for lighting up a pipe!

Newfoundland artist, Keli-Ann Pye-Beshara, takes a similar approach. I’ve watched her live-stream painting demonstrations and seen her set a timer for 30 minutes.

When it rings, she puts down the brush, stands up, and steps away from the work to stretch her neck, her hands and her back. She invites viewers to do the same.

 

Action: There is a physical release and renewal that comes with these breaks in the flow. Read More…

Posted under Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 14.22 – What’s Truly Essential In Your World?

Essential-wReflection: For some time, I’ve been following Greg McKoewn’s blog posts on the concept of Essentialism. So I was delighted when he released his book, ‘Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less’.

It’s a provocative read. Amongst the ideas I found of greatest interest are these:

  • Shifting to an essentialist viewpoint means we need to discard these three assumptions: I have to. It’s all important. I can do both. Instead we need to adopt these three assumptions: I choose to. Only a few things really matter. I can do anything but not everything.
  • The word ‘priority’ used to mean just one thing. In the last century we pluralized it to ‘priorities’. This caused us to believe we could actually hold a number of things at the top of our list and in our attention at the very same time.
  • We’re fooling ourselves if we think we don’t have to make a solid choice between competing activities. Choosing ‘both’ is a recipe for spreading ourselves too thin. We need to make trade-offs. The shift in mindset is thinking not so much about what we must give up, but rather, what do we choose to go big on.
  • Don’t be afraid to pull the plug on a project or commitment you’re already involved in. Think about it from a square one point of view. If you weren’t already involved, what would you give up or how hard would you work to get involved. Just because you are part of an active initiative doesn’t mean it’s still the right thing for you to be doing. Edit away.
  • You’ve got to know, as a pause fanatic, that I would appreciate this one. Protect the asset – that means you! Create space for renewal and reflection – time for unencumbered thought, innovation and growth. Escape and explore life.

 

Action: So, how do we actually put these ideas into action? Read More…

Posted under Life Balance, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 14.21 – What Do You Want To Do As You Grow Old?

Spring On The Trail

Spring On The Trail

Reflection: We’re pretty quick to ask young people about their futures: “What do you want to be when you grow up? What will you do after graduation?”

However, once we step through that portal of adulthood and into a career, a family, and responsibilities of all shapes and sizes, those ‘imagine your future’ questions are often sidelined.

You make a choice. You set out on a path. You’re headed in the right direction. All is well. Or is it?

I recently delivered the closing keynote for a conference of career planners and employment counselors. My message focused on connecting them to the hidden value in what they do and how they are.

The conference planners asked me to also build in a message for those in their mid to late career years who might be faced with: waning interest, lagging energy, or a once raging fire in the belly now faded to glowing embers. And, so I did. Here are a few of the ideas I shared that I thought might also interest you. Read More…

Posted under Life Balance, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 14.20 – Stop Trying So Hard

Don't Push-wReflection: Stop pushing. Stop forcing. Stop trying so hard. That’s the message I’m getting from a couple of activities I’m enjoying immensely these days: word play and painting.

I confess to a new addiction to solving the Jumble Puzzle in our daily newspaper. The challenge involves turning five sets of random letters into five words, extracting the circled letters from the solutions, and turning that subset of letters into the answer to a question posed in the accompanying comic vignette.

What I’ve learned from solving the Jumble is the value of soft focus. When I stare at those letters, trying to force them into the proper order, I’m frustrated. However, when I glance at the letters and let my gaze drift away, my brain plays with the possibilities and out pops the answers.

Same thing happens with my painting. When I stare intently at a scene trying to make sense of shapes and values, it’s a struggle. However, when I approach the challenge with a softer, more relaxed focus and less intensity, my mind makes sense of it much more quickly and surely.

 

Action: When you next meet a problem that tries your patience, try softening your focus. Start with an overview of what you know and what you see. Then step away. Back off.

Stop pushing for an answer. Cool your jets. Let your subconscious take over.

When you stop forcing an answer, and take a softer, calmer, more ease filled approach, you just might be surprised at how effortlessly solutions rise to the surface,

 

Quotes Of The Week: Flowers do not force their way with great strife. Flowers open to perfection slowly in the sun. – White Eagle

Trust in the inexhaustible character of the murmur. – Andre Breton

The quieter you become, the more you can hear. – Ram Dass

 

Resources Of The Week: Here are a couple of interesting reads for you.

Bethany Butzer shares a few idedas about effort and ease in her article, Stop Trying So Hard.

In the article, Ten Signs You Need To Stop Trying So Hard, Minda Zetlin writes about the pressure of pushing and forcing results in an article based on Todd Patkin’s book, Finding Happiness.

 

Posted under Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 14.19 – Five Ways to Perk Up Your Life

Sunny Smile With The Blues-wReflection: Back in January, a local TV station asked me to share a few ideas to help people cope with Blue Monday. That’s the Monday of the last full week in January – what is referred to by many as the most depressing day of the year.

While the Blue Monday pedigree is questionable, everyone has blue days and they don’t limit themselves to the month of January!

There’s no need to hold in reserve the strategies you can use to perk up your life when you’re feeling low.

 

Action: Here are five actions to perk up your life any time you need a boost: Read More…

Posted under Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Video, Wellness