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How Well Do You Pause?


It’s been said by many – myself included – that we live in a fast-paced world. Whether we are talking about transportation, communication, or interactions with one another, there is a way that all is done with an often frenetic energy. It’s as though someone somewhere has pressed a “fast-forward” button, and we’ve simply allowed that to become our default.

There is an antidote; it’s called the “pause”.

The pause is that space between events, circumstances or other stimuli where we have the opportunity to reflect before moving forward. That space is, in fact, always there. We’ve just put it on fast-forward as well, and as a result, we rarely appreciate the opportunity that it presents. Instead we fly by it, moving on to whatever is next.

It’s time to reclaim it; because there is much that we lose when we ignore the chance to pause.

Imagine what would become possible in the following scenarios if you simply took the time to pause:

  • You receive an email asking you to take on a task that isn’t within your comfort zone (or job description, quite frankly)
  • Somebody accuses you of doing or saying something that you didn’t
  • You realize that your to-do list just got longer by about 5 tasks and you’ve only got 30 minutes to get things done
  • Your star employee hands in her resignation, because she’s been offered a promotion by a competitor
  • You’re invited to a party on a night that you just want to stay home

In any of these scenarios, there is likely a reaction that you could and would default to, in the circumstance. You can recognize it by the almost visceral feeling you get as you find yourself in that moment. That reaction, however, isn’t likely to serve you nearly as well as a response generated out of a moment of “pausing”.

Now, here’s the thing that gets in the way of you taking the opportunity to pause; you assume that it has to be for a LONG time. It doesn’t.

The pause can be very brief – even 5 seconds will work. The power isn’t in the length of the pause, the power is in the action of taking it in the first place. Forcing your attention into the gap, the space, so that you can make a choice that is more responsive in nature rather than reactive, will always serve you well.

Bottom-line: yes, the world around us has gotten crazy-busy. That doesn’t mean we have to deny ourselves the gift of time to pause. The pause is an essential tool for us to use when it comes to making decisions, choosing actions, and learning how to respond.  A response is always better than a reaction; and the most effective responses are always preceded by a moment to pause.