As the World Slows Down, I’m Embracing the Chance to Pause

With the removal of a commute, distractions, and travel, I've decided to use this time to step back and refocus.

By MediaGroup/ Shutterstock
By MediaGroup/ Shutterstock

Life can sneak up on you really quickly sometimes. My New Year’s resolutions had started out with the best intentions. I dedicated a “me day” to refocus before the first Monday of the year. I put my phone to the side, took out a business book, and made a commitment to myself to keep my health, sanity, and family at the forefront of my focus the rest of the year.

And then, before you blink you’re eyes, you’re in over your head.

My husband and I moved into a new home. We are raising a puppy. I was part of the team organizing the biggest event our company was about to ever have. I was about to squeeze in a wedding between two conferences. I couldn’t clear my inbox at the end of each day, no matter how late I stayed up or worked on weekends. It felt overwhelming.

Until, almost overnight it seemed – it didn’t just feel overwhelming, it was. The coronavirus started to spread, and all of the sudden it wasn’t just a scary, foreign concept. For me, it felt like everything in my world was crumbling around me.

Events we had worked so hard on were cancelled with the send of an email. Panels I had prepared for were postponed. The conferences were moved. My parents’ trip to see our new home couldn’t happen anymore. Neither could my dear friend’s wedding. My weekly grocery run felt like an apocalyptic battle. People were getting sick and dying, quickly.

I needed a moment. And so I took one, a personal day to get my thoughts in order, and figure out how I was going to take on the weight of all these new and confusing personal and professional challenges.

I took back out the book I’d started in January (Freedom to Focus by Michael Hyatt – I’d made it to Chapter 2), and committed to reading it over the next two days, and actually doing the exercises in each chapter. I committed to taking a break from the chaos out in the world, and – just as the title prompts – to “focus.”

I underlined this passage in the book, as it resonated so deeply with me:

Amazing things happen when we Stop. We create space to Formulate, to get a clear picture of where we want to go and what we want out lives to become. We take the time to Evaluate, understanding exactly where we are and what our current situation looks like. And we make the time to Rejuvenate, investing in ourselves and our energy reserves through intentional steps forward in our rest, health and relationships.”

Sometimes we need someone to press the reset button for us. While these horrible circumstances of reset are far from what I would have asked for, we need to recognize that we’ve been given a unique opportunity to test our “focus” these next few weeks.

We’ve been given the opportunity to spend more time with our home family unit, to cancel our social activities, to have to cook food at home with each other, to cancel the dog walker, and play with our pets, to read, to learn, to pick up the phone and check on family and friends.

These next few weeks, I’m going to be doing just that. I’m going to set a schedule for myself so that I can manage my workload around the health of myself and my family – in that order. In the words of Michael Hyatt, I’m going to take a moment each day to “Stop,” and to Formulate what I want to accomplish professionally and personally that day. I’ll take a moment to Evaluate what’s going on in our home that day – the needs of my family and myself. And I’ll take a moment to Rejuvenate, to appreciate that my hourlong commute is now a commute down the stairs (in my slippers). I’ll finally have a lunch break. I’ll take a moment to enjoy watching movies and drinking wine by the fire, and spend every night, commitment-free, with those I love.

There are times these days indoors will feel crazy, and for that, I’m thankful of all those sharing their feelings, tips, and suggestions to stay sane. I urge all of you to share and to continue to support one another.

But when you can, and if you are able, I hope you too will embrace this time to “stop” and simply pause.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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