When to Pause, and When Not to
When to pause, and when not to – that is the question. (My Shakspere references make me cool, folks.)
When you have a slow internet connection (yes, that still happens!), you need to pause the YouTube video you’re watching to let it buffer a bit before you can watch it.
How do you know when you need to do that?
In the case of a YouTube video, it will tell you – by not playing – then you respond with rage OR see it as a great excuse to get up + move around.
What if we’re talking about you?
When do YOU need to pause + “buffer” your mind, your body before your next move?
I wrote an article about needing to rest + why you won’t be good at it. (Give it a read if that subject interests you.)
Pausing is not the same as resting.
Resting is taking a break with the intention of unplugging entirely, thus exerting as little effort as possible in all aspects of your life.
It’s a vacation. It’s a retreat. It’s taking a fucking break from it all.
Pausing, on the other hand, is when you briefly stop progressing forward, but you’re actively planning your next step.
It’s brainstorming. It’s choosing your next direction. It’s talking with those you trust before making a move.
So, how do you know when to pause + when to not pause?
Let’s talk about it.
When to Pause
Pausing is the concept of looking before you leap.
Pausing can look like less time on social media; less time watching TV; less time partying.
Pausing can look like more time researching; more time talking with friends, family, or fellow professionals; more time journaling your raw + honest thoughts.
I find it most useful to pause before:
- Launching a new product or service
- Moving to a new apartment/city/state/country
- Ending a relationship
- Signing up for a new online course, coach, or mastermind
- Making big purchases
- Anything that involves a significant investment of my time, money, or emotional bandwidth
Sometimes you’ll need to pause amidst big changes or leaps of progress.
You can’t eat an elephant in one bite, and pausing between bites is encouraged.
Sometimes, your body will tell you when to pause – like when no amount of coffee or tea will keep your brain active; you feel the need to get more sleep; or most obviously, you get sick.
Perhaps the direction you’re heading isn’t the problem. Maybe all you need to do is pause + recollect yourself before launching forward.
What’s that saying?
Sometimes when you take a step back, it’s because you’re preparing to take a running start.
When to Not Pause
There will be times where you THINK you need to pause.
That you need more information; or more opinions; or more time to “think it through.”
Sometimes, you’re right. Most of the time, you’re wrong.
Speaking from experience here, friends.
This is about the difference between needing/wanting cold hard facts (aka a definitive answer) versus realizing that life is nothing but shades of gray and your intuition is stronger than you realize.
I find it most useful to not pause before:
- Choosing the next book to read
- Choosing the next recipe to try
- Choosing the next person to follow on social media
- Choosing the next restaurant to try
- Choosing the next podcast to appear on
- Choosing the next city or country to visit
You probably noticed a theme.
Pausing is good for things that deserve contemplation or more info to make an intelligent decision, especially when there is a lot of time or money involved.
Pausing is NOT for small decisions that you can simply trust your intuition to make for you.
Even if it doesn’t go spectacularly, you didn’t lose much, and it was worth it to try something new + different.
How Can You Tell the Difference?
While I did my best to describe when to pause + when to not pause, there’s no defined line here.
Personally, I’ve taken the time to pause on things that did NOT warrant a pause.
For instance, it’s been 2 weeks since I worked on my next book.
Normally, I write for an hour a day, 5 days a week.
But for the past 2 weeks, I’ve written nothing. I haven’t even opened the Google doc.
I thought I was rewarding myself for all the hard work I already put in. Ya know, since I’m not a machine, I thought taking a break was well-deserved.
Nah. That’s bullshit. The book isn’t done. The first draft isn’t even done. So why did I pause?
Fear. Sometimes, you will think you need to pause, to retreat, under the guise of research or planning, when all you’re doing is masking your fear.
I was afraid to keep writing the book because I’m at a point that is super-duper-fucking difficult to write about. I made some huge mistakes, and while I own those mistakes, writing about them to help others is another story.
What do you do when you realize you’re pausing when you don’t need to?
Move. Take action. Something. Anything.
It doesn’t have to be huge. It doesn’t have to be a big leap forward. Just start again.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll be writing my book again. It will be hard, but not as hard as the mental punishment I’ve put myself through for avoiding it.
Where do I need to pause + reflect before moving forward?
Where am I pausing that I don’t need to, possibly out of fear?