PAUSE – 17.14 – What Motivator Might Bring You More Of What You Want?
October 25, 2017
Reflection: The young CEO of a manufacturing company had a reputation for keeping long hours and working endless weekends, until…a brand new baby entered his world.
In short order, he found creative ways to get most of his work done during regular business hours and to claim his evenings and weekends for family.
A long time public servant found herself at her desk late into the evenings, struggling to find time for exercise and companionship, until…she brought an energetic young puppy into her home.
Now she had a compelling reason to leave work at 5:00. If she didn’t, she’d arrive home to unhappy accidents and a house in shambles. Most key tasks at work were accomplished during regular work hours. Turns out it had been her need to feel completely caught up at the end of every day that had kept her chained to her desk.
For years, a career homemaker spent all her time tidying, cleaning, cooking, and managing family affairs, until…she connected to a volunteer cause she cared deeply about.
She cut back to a lesser standard of home care and freed time and energy to devote to her new-found passion. (more…)
PAUSE GEM #48 – Stopping Starting & Art 150.5
July 26, 2017
Editor’s Note: As they have for the last couple of years, your summer Pause messages will feature the ‘Best of Pause. These GEMS are readers’ favorite messages from earlier years. Whether you are a long time subscriber, or new to our list, I hope you enjoy them all. After Labor Day, your Pause messages will once again feature all new info and resources.
P.S.– Also, be sure to scan right to the end of this message. You’ll want to be sure to catch the details on my Canada 150 Summer Art Project and the unique Provinces of Canada paintings on offer each week. This week – Ontario.
REFLECTION & ACTION: More than one study has confirmed that backlogs are an everyday fact of life in today’s overcommitted workplaces – not to mention on the home and community fronts. Despite the fact that we have an inordinate number of irons in the fire at any one time, that doesn’t seem to prevent us from adding more.
Personally, I’ve got a tall stack of books waiting for my attention. That hasn’t stopped me from firing off orders to Amazon or Chapters for yet another interesting volume or two.
I’ve got a number of articles partly written, and program ideas partially developed. That doesn’t stop me from grabbing another scrap of paper and scratching out a few thoughts about yet another fresh idea.
Over the years, I’ve registered a number of web domain names that seemed like an inspired idea at the time, and then let them languish for lack of attention.
Anything similar happen to you?
When we talk about streamlining our life and work activities, a fair amount of attention and lip service is paid to what we could stop doing.
Maybe it’s time to ask a different question. (more…)
PAUSE – 16.27 – Regrets? How Do You Make Them Fewer?
November 9, 2016
Reflection: If you’ve been following some of the work I’ve shared over the last year with respect to Spark & Malaise, you’ll recall me mentioning Bonnie Ware’s findings on the regrets people express near the ends of their lives.
In her research, the number one regret Ware heard repeatedly was that ‘people wished they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves instead of the lives that others expected of them.’
That top finding is echoed in more recent research by Kathy Caprino.
In Caprino’s survey of those at an earlier stage in their lives (middle age and mid-career), she found the following top five regrets: (more…)
PAUSE – 16.20 – Are You Standing Up & Stepping Out?
June 15, 2016
As I grow older, I seem to become less concerned about knowing how things will end before I commit to a start.
Maybe I’m more confident in my ability to handle whatever comes up.
Or maybe I’ve realized that imagining I control the outcomes is mostly an illusion anyway.
I do know that I’ve been around the block enough times to realize that the sheer act of beginning something new opens doors and invites possibilities that are never apparent when you’re hunkered down on the sidelines wondering, ‘Should I…?’
Are you toying with trying something new? Why not find a low risk way to stand up, step out, and test the waters?
Let yourself be surprised and amazed. And, let me know how it goes!
It’s just over a year since I stood up and stepped out to explore the challenges of mid life malaise. Some of you will remember responding to a survey on that topic in early 2015.
Since then, I’ve used the results of that research to craft a variety of programs on Rekindling Spark – Navigating Mid Life Malaise. Over the last six months, I’ve designed and delivered a Ted Talk, a conference keynote, a follow up breakout session, and a half day seminar.
There’s nothing like stepping out and testing new material to see if it makes a contribution and a difference. And, this most certainly does. (more…)
PAUSE – 16.15 – Get to The Root Of The Matter
May 11, 2016
Reflection: One of my favorite features in our backyard garden is a pond and stream nestled under the giant Scots Pine. I love watching the goldfish glide through the water and the songbirds splash in the stream.
That pond has also been a source of great consternation. For the last few years, keeping the water level up has been a challenge. As you might guess, the idea of fish out of water – literally – is not a pretty thought.
Over time, I’ve attempted a lot of different fixes. I wrapped the hose that carries the water from the pond to the top of the stream in a vinyl liner so any leaks would funnel back into the pond. I sealed around the spout at the top of the stream so the water no longer splashes over the edges.
I adjusted the pump and filter to control the flow of water in the stream. All were temporary fixes at best. At the end of the season last year, the water level in the pond still dropped six inches every single day.
This spring I decided a major dismantling of the streambed was in order, and that’s how I spent last Friday. I took the whole thing apart – stone by stone – and as it turned out, root by root.
Apparently the Scots pine that shelters the pond had claimed the stream as its own private drinking fountain. In three separate places, one-inch diameter roots had crept over the bank and into the stream – sending out smaller rootlets both up and down the waterway.
It took me four hours of steady work to rid the stream of a four-inch thick mat of roots and to free the rocks and stones held captive within. I traced the big roots back and cut each of them as far from the stream as possible.
I’m sure they’ll move in again, but this time I know to watch for it and will hopefully catch them sooner rather than later.
The fix was not easy – and it may not be permanent. But, at least I’m feeling more confident that this time I actually got to the root of the matter. Time will tell. (more…)
PAUSE – 16.01 – It Doesn’t Have To Be Forever
February 3, 2016
Reflection: I’ve noticed that one thing that keeps me from saying yes to a new opportunity or direction (be it a volunteer request, work task, or membership) is the feeling that having signed on, I’ll be locked in F-O-R-E-V-E-R. The prospect of forever gets heavy in a hurry!
And, so, I’m playing with the idea of looking at life’s opportunities more as a series of projects – or experiments – each with a beginning, a middle and an end.
For example, I gifted myself with a pair of Nordic walking poles to start the new year. And, I set myself a project goal of taking them out for a hike on each of the first 28 days of the new year. Not forever – just for 28 days. And, so I did! And so it’s done. Not that I won’t do more…but it’s an option – not a burden.
I’ve set myself the goal of creating a series of 12 paintings under the umbrella theme of ‘Simple Pleasures. I’m halfway there, and enjoying the fact that experimenting with these images is neither a life sentence nor an endless commitment. It’s just plain fun at the moment.
This year, I’m planning to continue publishing Pause in the traditional format (like this) every second week. To spice things up, in the weeks in between, I’m going to play with a series of projects. First up will be a series of six short videos under the umbrella title, Pat Answers. They’ll explore questions readers have raised about the challenges of malaise and rekindling life’s spark.
What projects and experiments will follow remains to be seen. But there’s one thing I know for sure. I feel lighter already! (more…)
PAUSE – 14.30 – Success Can Lead To Excess
October 1, 2014
Reflection: Our pursuit of success has both an upside and a downside – a bright side and a dark side.
The very same impulses that drive us to success (a commitment to showing up, the ambition to get ahead, and a desire to make a difference) are the very same impulses that can drive us to excess (taking on too many things at once, working ourselves to exhaustion, and driving ourselves and those around us crazy in the process).
In our pursuit of success and significance, it’s far too easy to lose our focus and to lose our way – to end up feel overwhelmed and overloaded.
Trying to handle the situation with traditional time management tools only makes a small dint in this experience. Goal setting, prioritizing, delegation, and techno efficiency will only take us so far.
If we want to be sustainably productive, we need to concern ourselves with other equally important elements of productivity:
Tapping into peace of mind
Action: Pay close attention to perspective, presence and peace of mind as you make your way through today:
Remember why the things you are working on matter.
Take satisfaction as you move projects forward – even if they aren’t yet complete.
Be present to the people who share your world and your work.
Tune in your body and your thoughts; and answer the call when they signal what you need.
Tap into that invisible ‘river of peace’ that flows at your feet every moment of every day.
Quote Of The Week: Could we stop measuring our days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence? – Yours Truly
Our entire society can be changed by one person’s peaceful presence. – Thich Nhat Hanh
Readers Write: In response to last week’s message, What Can You Learn From A Toddler On Overload, Pause reader JO writes: “I am not sure who said this or coined it but if I have an important meeting or event it’s important to HALT and do an internal check. Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired (HALT)? If so I take care of it prior to that important event or meeting!”
I did a little sleuthing on attribution, JO, and it seems this acronym is most strongly associated with treatment programs for chemical dependency. The thought here is that when we are in weakened states (as in HALT) we are more likely to make poor choices. When you recognize and take care of those needs, you improve the likelihood of making more thoughtful, healthy and sustainable choices.
PAUSE – 14.28 – Keep a Promise To Lighten Your Load
September 17, 2014
Reflection: One of the ways we add to the mental and emotional overload in our lives is by making promises we’re unlikely to keep.
For example, you run into an old friend or an ex-colleague on the street. You’re both super excited to see each other. You spend the next 20 minutes swapping news and bringing each other up to date.
At the end of the exchange, you say, “I’m so glad we ran into each other. This has been great. We should get together soon for (pick one) coffee, a drink, dinner.” Your friend agrees, smiles and nods, and you go your separate ways.
It was a great visit. That’s true. But, now there’s a ‘thing’ between you.
What kind of thing, you ask? A promise, a commitment, a spoken intention to act. And the central question is whether you will or whether you won’t follow through.
Sure, your intentions were good, as they are in so many instances. But, time is limited, and we’re easily distracted. Before you know it, days, weeks, months, even years go by – and the thing – that unmet promise still hangs in the air and follows you around.
Multiply the number of ‘things promised but not delivered’ in our lives and the weight of expectation grows heavy.
What’s equally problematic, is that our integrity takes a hit in the eyes of others. We become that person who talks a good line but rarely follows through.
PAUSE – 14.21 – What Do You Want To Do As You Grow Old?
May 28, 2014
Spring On The Trail
Reflection: We’re pretty quick to ask young people about their futures: “What do you want to be when you grow up? What will you do after graduation?”
However, once we step through that portal of adulthood and into a career, a family, and responsibilities of all shapes and sizes, those ‘imagine your future’ questions are often sidelined.
You make a choice. You set out on a path. You’re headed in the right direction. All is well. Or is it?
I recently delivered the closing keynote for a conference of career planners and employment counselors. My message focused on connecting them to the hidden value in what they do and how they are.
The conference planners asked me to also build in a message for those in their mid to late career years who might be faced with: waning interest, lagging energy, or a once raging fire in the belly now faded to glowing embers. And, so I did. Here are a few of the ideas I shared that I thought might also interest you. (more…)
Pause Gem #27 – Rituals Bring Values To Life
August 28, 2013
Reflection & Action: Rituals are powerful things. Hello/goodbye, good morning/good night kisses are an everyday occurrence in my marriage. Leave takings with our daughters – by phone or in person – are punctuated from both sides with the phrase, ‘Love ya’. Our dinner grace includes a ‘Today I am thankful for…’ comment from each person around the table
Like brushing your teeth in the morning, these actions and phrases have become second nature. That doesn’t make them meaningless. Each exchange expresses deeply held values of love and appreciation.
One of the keys for bringing our values to life is turning them into rituals. If you value your health, turning a lunchtime walk into an automatic ritual breathes life into that value. If you value family, the ritual of a weekly phone call with a parent or sister keeps the connection alive. If you value the beauty of nature, the ritual of placing fresh cut flowers on your desk at work or your table at home keeps nature in the center of your everyday life. You get the picture. (more…)