In the age of busy is the new black, mile long to-do lists and jam-packed day planners, pausing seems like a luxury we just can’t afford.
As a result, we are reacting instead of thoughtfully responding. We are making impulsive decisions and taking action with the goal of getting things done and checking things off instead of taking action with the goal of supporting the kind of lives we want to live.
If you want to align your actions with your values, consider a personal promise to pause.
Choose the one pause below that most deeply resonates and promise to incorporate it into your day-to-day life. Do it for 30-90 days until it becomes a habit.
Make a personal promise to pause …
BEFORE HITTING SEND
How many times have you sent a text or email to the wrong person, or without finishing your thought? How many times have you hit send in the name of emptying your overflowing inbox? Have you ever written something you didn’t really mean, hit send and wished you could take it back?
To make a personal promise to pause before sending email, once you draft an email, stand up and walk around for a minute or two before sending. Then read it out loud. Always read messages you aren’t sure about, out loud. There are extensions for email that allow you to “send later” or you could send emails you aren’t sure about to yourself first as another way to pause.
Another good rule … never send a message when you angry. Your words will live on forever.
AFTER YOU ARE HURT
The worst time to react is when you feel hurt. There is too much fuel on the fire of your pain to think clearly. This could be something simple like someone criticizing your work, or more complicated like an argument with someone you love.
Even if you are sure you are right or justified, make a personal promise to pause and give yourself time to process your feelings. If it helps, write it down or walk it out before responding or engaging. Otherwise, you may get caught in a cycle with no resolution.
BEFORE YOU BUY SOMETHING
A purchase pause will save you money, time and energy.
AFTER YOU BUY SOMETHING
It’s usually not to late to change your mind. In the midst of buyer’s remorse or if you find out your new purchase isn’t a good fit after all, brush yourself off and remember, you can return that.
BEFORE YOU PICK UP YOUR PHONE
If you are bored, or worried, you might be checking your phone more than you think. Checking email and other apps might be a way of procrastinating too. I’m guilty! Mindless email or Instagram checking is easier than finishing a big or challenging project.
Reinforce your personal promise to pause and put an elastic band or sticky note on your phone with the word, pause or breathe. It will prevent the mindless swipe and help you break the habit of checking in to check out.
AFTER YOU WAKE UP
Build in time to wake up slowly. Even five minutes to stretch and breath will remove some of the morning chaos and anxiety you may be experiencing.
Set your alarm for ten minutes earlier than your regular wake up time and simply pause. Let your first ten minutes of the day be without obligation or pressure to get anything done.
BEFORE SAYING YES WHEN YOUR HEART SAYS NO
We’ve all said yes when we wanted to say no. Whether we said it out of guilt, for fear of missing out, or to please others, it’s important to note that saying yes when your heart says no is a disservice not only to you but to everyone you say yes to. If your heart says no, it will fight the yes all the way through. You won’t be excited to contribute. You won’t give your best, and you may end up resenting the commitment or the person who asked you to commit.
If it’s a struggle for you to know when to say yes and when to say no, try a yes fast. Say no to all non-essential requests for the next 30 days.
These are only a handful of suggestions. Pick one or create your own. Think of repeated decisions you often regret. Therein lies the perfect place for a personal promise to pause.