Okkaayyy! As you know, I just came back from a 2-week vacay to the US of A.
I spent some time with my girlfriend at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I drank delicious butterbeer, and bought one of those ridiculously-expensive interactive wands for US$50:
The REAL magic, however, happened after I came back from vacation and started work.
You see, before I left, I was stuck in a rut on a personal project (more on that later). But my vacation gave me the break I needed to relax, get inspired, and get productive.
Why? Because no matter we’re doing, sometimes we just need a pause to back on track.
It doesn’t have to be a 2-week vacation from work. Sometimes, even a few minutes of pause can stop you from losing money, making a dumb mistake, or simply help you to get back on your feet again.
Here’s what I mean:
Case study 1:Pausing An Investment
A friend told me recently that he felt really crappy about an investment. It was an Investment-Linked Plan (and you know how I hate those things), and he had sunk thousands of dollars into it over the past 5 years or so.
Yet, month after month, he kept faithfully contributing his premiums. Why? Because it’s far easier to keep doing what we’ve always been doing.
He didn’t want to terminate the plan – that would mean solidifying his loss of thousands of dollars. When I found out, I told him that there was a better way – a kind of a middle ground that could help him out:
He could pause his contributions. His plan would still exist, just that he wouldn’t be contributing any more into it. Once he stopped sinking into the mud, it would become easier for him to take his time and re-evaluate his options.
Case study 2: Pausing Before A Rash Decision
It was one of those days: I’d made a big error at work which could potentially annoy some very important people. I only found out when it was already past midnight and I was getting ready to sleep.
I panicked as I raced through the thousands of possible scenarios in my mind. And I felt annoyed because I hate going to sleep knowing that there was something “unsettled”.
And so, in a panic, I drafted an email and sent it, hoping that it would be a quick “fix” to my problem.
The moment I hit “Send”, I knew that I’d made a big mistake.
Have you ever had that feeling before? It’s the shittiest feeling in the world.
For me, I would’ve given anything to be able to jump into the computer and grab that email back. But nope. The deed was done. I was going to have to deal with the consequences the next day.
I should have simply paused.
That’s also the reason why Gmail has an “Undo Send” function. When I click send, Google holds that mail for me for about 5 seconds, which is often all I need to stop myself from sending an email that I might regret.
Case Study 3: Pausing To Find The Plot Again
I’ve been getting frustrated by a project I’ve been working on for the past few months. I couldn’t see the end in sight and I was going re-e-eally slow.
I’d spend an entire day working on some minor detail, then I’d close my laptop and get annoyed at myself for making so little progress.
When it was time for me to go on vacation, I was still stuck on my project (I originally wanted to complete it before leaving), but I was like, “Heck it. I’m not going to do work for the next 2 weeks and enjoy my vacation.”
It was the best decision ever. In my happy butterbeer-filled state (hic), I reminded myself about WHY I was doing this project, and how it could be amazingly useful for so many people out there.
When I came back, I accomplished more in these past 2 weeks than I had in the past 2 months. I’m still about halfway through the project, but I’ve found the plot again.
A Better Next Move
Pauses help us to make a better next move.
If you’ve been doing a report you hate just because “it’s always been done”, Pause.
If you’re getting frustrated at the office and your boss is breathing down your neck, Pause.
If it’s 1am and you’re telling yourself that you need to tear yourself away from Facebook, Pause.
If someone embarrassed you at a meeting and all you want to do is send him an email filled with F-bombs, Pause.
And if you’ve got an idea for an amazing project but you’re stuck, frustrated, tired or weary, Pause.
Try it. It’s even better than an overpriced magic wand.
P.S: I’d love to hear from you – Let me know of a time when you deliberately paused what you were doing, and it made all the difference!