Growing up I played a lot of sports. I loved the feeling of competing and working toward a goal with a team of like-minded individuals. Things I learned way back then have translated well into adult life. And one of them, is knowing when to take a time-out.
Over the last few years, especially since Ryan, I’ve noticed four common circumstances where you should take time to pause and reflect before moving forward.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I get overwhelmed by something and before I know it, my initial feelings have snowballed from a small setback to an apocalyptic event. It’s easy to allow the momentum of negativity to continue us into a state of depression and negative self-talk that leaves us no where but curled in the fetal position crying on the floor somewhere or in our bed with the blanket over our head (not that I’ve ever done this). When negative thoughts overtake us, we can short circuit the process by taking a small time out – from our thinking!
We have the power to take control of our thoughts, stop them dead in their tracks, and reset the recording. It can be difficult, but acknowledging the feelings that are overwhelming us and the reasons that triggered them is the first step. Once we are able to recognize the lies we are buying into, only then can we remind ourselves effectively of the truth and how a small setback doesn’t mean the end of the world.
Just like in sports, sometimes things don’t go like we planned. In these times, it’s important to reevaluate what our priorities are and if our initial goals need to be changed. Perhaps we need to tweak our strategies for reaching the end goal. Or even better, maybe we’re reaching a goal faster than we thought and want to make a bigger goal.
Either way, when things are breaking down around you, it’s important to see if what you imagined is realistic and attainable. Taking a time out can help us reassess instead of derailing altogether.
Have you ever been run so ragged that you literally cannot think straight? You’re pushing yourself so hard toward your goals that your mind is fried? I know I have. You have two choices: you can push on or you can stop and take a mental break. I know for me, when I try to push on, I still end up frustrated, spinning my wheels because I literally don’t have the brain power to keep going. When I take a few minutes (or hours) to let my brain rest, I come back more productive than ever. Studies show that taking small breaks each hour increases productivity.
We know our brains ignores constants like white noise, our own perfume smell, kids yelling in the background (if you’re a mom of many!), and many more things we hear all the time. In the same way our brain starts to ignore something we’ve been focusing on for a long amount of time. When you feel the buzz in your head or read the same sentence two or three times without processing it, it’s time to take a break.
Some days I feel more motivated than others as if there really is a right side of the bed to climb out of. It’s days like this I look to my to-do list to keep me on task. Other days, I allow myself a mental day (or half day) to do something that helps me feel accomplished in another area (clean a room of the house, organize a closet, get the laundry cleaned and folded). When I’m able to check something off my list in any area of my life, it gives me the emotional boost I need to focus on my work.
Interestingly enough, having tunnel vision – where we focus on only one area of our life, can cause us to loose our motivation because all of our emotional energy is wrapped up in the success of one thing. If it’s not going well, it’s easier to get discouraged. When I find myself bogged down on a task or realize I’m losing motivation, I switch to something that makes me feel accomplished like finishing up another small task or working on a piece of a long-term project; or I read, listen to, or watch something inspiring or informational. Typically either of these strategies works to get the juices flowing again and helps me get motivated to finish my original task.
When do you find yourself needing a time to pause and reflect? Do you use these strategies or do you have other strategies that work for you?
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Spot on once again Leighann! Such great advice…and food for thought!
Have a blessed day!
You too, Linda!
Well put! I’m a big list maker for my work duties but at home I just kind of
do or do nothing ~ that’s a big change for me so I need to make a change about that as doing nothing really doesn’t get it
Becky – you know I love a good list!