Practice the Pause
BY THE UNSTUCK DUCK
Are you a joiner? I totally am.
I say yes to all sorts of things – online offers, courses, volunteer opportunities, leadership positions, social engagements – they’re all networking opportunities right??
Sometimes they are energy drains. Time parasites. Toxic wastelands.
But the thing is, I’m an extrovert. I am energized by interacting with people. I’m also a promoter, which means I can have 18 ideas at any given time, I’m super creative, and I think outside the box constantly. Often times I say yes simply because in that particular moment I’m bored. Or maybe there’s that one person I want to spend more time with, and I feel like the only way I’m going to be able to do so is to join in on what they’re doing.
The funny thing is, I’m perfectly capable of doing a hundred things at the same time. The overwhelm comes only when those choices I’ve made don’t align with my values, or when they are not in line with what I ultimately want for my life, relationships, career, time.
The very best thing we can do to avoid the overwhelm is to practice the pause. Although it is fantastic, I’m not referring to the quote by Lori Deschenes, founder of Tiny Buddha:
“Practice the pause. Pause before judging. Pause before assuming. Pause before accusing. Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.”
I’m referring to pausing before saying YES. Pausing before committing. Pausing to assess whether the choice you’re about to make is really the right choice for you.
I’ve created a litmus test for my decision making – which I can use for everything from “do I want to take on this client?” to “should I buy this sweater?”
1) Does this opportunity align with my values?
My core values are authenticity, kindness, contribution, creativity, courage, growth and integrity. It’s quite a list, but it sure helps when I know I’m making the world a better place in the best way I can (authenticity, kindness, contribution), when I know something will be fun (growth and creativity), and when it’s the right thing to do (contribution, courage, integrity). I care how and where my clothes are made, where my money goes, and that I’m constantly learning. That’s my thing.
2) Does this opportunity energize me or deplete me? (Thank you Mel Robbins).
This is so key for me. If I’m automatically exhausted even thinking about working on a project, taking on a particular client, or attending an event, then it behooves me to ask myself “what exactly am I gaining by saying yes?” Sometimes by asking myself that, I find that I have obscure intentions (i.e. I want to spend more time with someone and need to be sneaky about it, saying yes will make me look good/make someone like me/build my esteem, or maybe I’m just bored and trying to fill time in nonproductive ways). However, if it energizes me, I can make a better decision based on choosing joy.
3) Does this opportunity/relationship/choice get me to closer to what I want?
Over the past few years I have defined, very clearly, what it is that I want for my life – even broken down into what I want for each relationship and interaction I have. When faced with a decision, I ask myself whether it’s going to get me closer or farther from my goals. Just like a choice between a cheeseburger and a salad will matter if you’re trying to lose weight, making choices on who to spend time with matters.
While #FOMO is a real thing, it can get us into trouble when we say yes to too many things. Maybe it’s time to sit back and do an analysis of everything that you’ve got on your plate. Creating your own standards to test what you want in your life can help you manage your energy and get you closer to fulfillment.