In today’s fast-paced world, every moment seems to demand immediate action especially when your buttons get pushed! This puts you in danger of reacting in ways you will soon regret. Constantly making quick decisions without pause leads to a state where your mental resources are depleted, and your ability to make sound judgments diminished. Immediate reactions are often driven by your emotions, which clouds your judgment leading to regrettable outcomes both in your personal and professional life.
However, it is in these moments you must pause to unlock your profound reservoir of wisdom to avoid the pitfalls of hasty decision-making.
Jasmine was an overwhelmed, burned-out stress filled executive! The influx of incoming and urgent demands from across the organization and her team were taking its toll on both her personal and professional life. She was sleep deprived from working long hours and taking care of her family. She felt guilt and shame that she was inadequate in both. When at work, she felt she needed to be more attentive at home and when with family, thinking about work. This developed into regular headaches and stomach pains. She even worked while on “vacation.” This was not sustainable. With support, she decided that whenever she felt overwhelmed, she would pause, take deep breaths, and remind herself of the good in her life. This helped her regain her composure and focus in the moment on what was real and important versus the story she was ranting about in her head. This reduced her stress levels improving her overall well-being.
When you pause, you can acknowledge whether a quick decision is needed for example, email/text response, impulse buying, engaging in an argument, or a critical life choice. Breathe deep and slow to calm your mind and body. Inhale for a count of four, hold for four, and exhale for four. You can count to ten, literally. Ask and answer guiding questions to make a more thoughtful choice, like:
o What are the potential outcomes of this decision?
o Does this align with my values?
o Will I regret this later?
o Is this the best time to say what I want?
o Do I mean what I am tempted to say?
o Am I connecting or disconnecting?
o Does this build trust in me?
o Am I widening or narrowing the gap between us?
o How would I like hearing what I’m about to say?
o Do I need to just lighten up or be firmer with boundaries?
o Do I really need to say it again?
You do not have to know the “right” thing to do. All you must do is pause before you react or act. If you need more than the ten seconds take it! Pausing in this way will give you:
o Clarity of Thought: Clears your mental clutter providing a clearer perspective on the situation at hand to weigh the potential consequences, risks, and benefits.
o Enhanced Decision-Making: Gives you time to evaluate your choices more thoroughly to assess whether a decision aligns with your goals and values, leading to more aligned choices.
o Reduced Stress: Rushed decisions can lead to stress and anxiety. Pausing enables you to approach decisions with a calmer mindset.
o Improved Relationships: In arguments or conflicts, pausing allows you to choose your words carefully, promoting healthier communication and preventing hurtful outbursts.
o Enhanced Productivity: In the workplace, taking a moment to pause before making decisions can lead to more efficient and effective problem-solving, ultimately increasing productivity.
o Personal Growth: Becoming more attuned to your own thought processes and emotions, fosters self-awareness and self-control.
o Better Financial Decisions: Impulsive spending is a common pitfall. Pausing helps you distinguish between wants and needs, leading to more responsible financial choices.
In a world that often glorifies speed and immediacy, the power of pausing for ten seconds or more before acting or deciding is a transformative practice. It allows you to transcend your impulsive reactions that leads to regret and pain, granting you the clarity, wisdom, and serenity to navigate life’s challenges. Incorporate the pause and these simple steps to ensure you are not mindlessly and constantly moving from one decision to the next. Pausing is not a delay; it is a deliberate choice that propels you forward with greater purpose and wisdom. When you are calm, you can say what you mean and mean what you say.
“Practice the pause. Pause before judging. Pause before assuming. Pause before accusing. Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly
and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.” Lori Deschene