Does Your Life Need a Pause?

Over the last few months I’ve had several posts here with quotes from Rachael O’Meara’s recent book “Pause: Harnessing The Life Changing Power of Giving Yourself A Break”.

It took me a long time to finish reading “Pause” because I wanted to take my time and apply the principles as I was absorbing them. It’s been thoughtful and challenging, but a fruitful process to apply to my life. Because I feel like most of my life I’ve been a human ‘doing’ more than a human ‘being’, the process of pausing is especially relevant. I’m finding out that nearly, if not every, person I know needs a better understanding of how to take breaks, both large and small, in order to bring a fresh perspective and balance to their lives.

In addition to writing “Pause”, Rachael is a sales executive at Google San Francisco for the DoubleClick Ad Exchange and trains colleagues on emotional. She is also a regular contributor to Huffington Post, has a podcast on the practice of pausing, and speaks and leads workshops on the topic as well.

In 2011, Rachael O’Meara was working at Google in a managerial role with a customer support team. Her manager was offering feedback that she needed to work on being a better communicator and needed to learn how to give criticism in a more constructive way. No matter how hard she tried, Rachael couldn’t figure out how to make the improvements that were being suggested.

“I was in a mental tailspin.”

That’s when she discovered through talking with a friend that Google offered a sabbatical program for employees. She researched the program over the weekend and went into her manager on Monday morning to make her case for why she should be permitted to take a three-month unpaid leave of absence.

That was the beginning of Rachael’s journey into discovering the value of taking a pause. And it led to her write her book.

Rachael’s definition of a pause is simple: “A pause is any intentional shift in behavior.”

A pause can be as brief as the few seconds it takes to inhale deeply and release a slow breath – or as long as several months to a year, depending on what you need and how much of a pause you can find a way to make room for in your life.

“You’re in the driver’s seat of your own life. You have to decide what you want to do with your life and what’s going to make you happy.”

Someone who makes the decision to take a pause can be viewed as lazy or a slacker, but that’s far from true. In fact, that person is doing just the opposite by very intentionally deciding to take time to evaluate what changes need to be made in his or her life.

Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax, to pause. It’s a skill to relax. It’s not necessarily intuitive that rest is helpful. But there’s a real power to that relaxed mental state.

By learning to acknowledge the need to take a pause in an anxiety-fueled situation, you become conscious of the space between stimulus and response, you can create a moment of pause that allows you to consciously choose how to react.

You can hear more of my conversation with Racheal on The Creator’s Journey here.