Knowing When to Hit “Pause”

Hitting Pause
Hitting Pause

The two-week break over Christmas gave me some wonderful time to think about my life-plan, bond with my family and friends, and look ahead to what I want to do better in 2010.   And even as I walked back into the office on Monday, I noticed how much more laid back, happy, and inspired people were.  Why don’t we do a better job of making rest time a priority? 

Here are a few of my biggest takeaways from that time off: 

  1. Making good memories is easy-We didn’t have to take a lavish vacation to make some great memories this year.  Almost totally unplugging (there’s always room for improvement) and really focusing on family activities made the time pass too quickly, but offered some great events we’ll cherish for years to come.
  2. Saying “No” must happen sometimes-It’s easy to get overextended and allow that rat-race pattern to become routine.  Breaking away from some of the commitments really frees us up to be creative and at peace.
  3. We have to stop trying to be like others-This blog is a perfect example.  I wasn’t born to keep a blog updated-it’s not my life’s work or passion.  I got into it because I saw people I respect doing it and thought I needed to follow their path. But what comes easy for some becomes a burden to others.  I’m not going to post every day, or likely every three days.  Making peace with that fact has made blogging enjoyable again.  There are  areas in each of our lives where we must manage our own expectations and do what feeds our own souls.
  4. If we don’t like our lives, it’s our job to change it-Being passionate about our work, crazy about the people we are around, and happy with how we spend our downtime is our responsibility.  The Lord gave us a chance at eternal life, and the Bible gives us a great tool for navigation.  But no person, job, friend, or gadget will make the grass greener.  If life’s not going according to plan, we have to change it.
  5. Things don’t have to be perfect-Sounds simple, but some of us struggle with perfectionism.  Keeping a perfect house has become less important to me than making sure there’s quality family time.   And by reminding myself of these five points even now, I can truly appreciate the life I have.  It’s messy sometimes, but I’d have it no other way.

What revelations have come to you when you step out of the fast lane?

12 thoughts on “Knowing When to Hit “Pause”

  1. This one, “If we don’t like our lives, it’s our job to change it” is so true. We NEED to take responsibility for our lives. No one else is going to set boundaries for us, invest in relationships for us, create opportunities for us – we have to get off the couch and be a catalyst for change in our lives.

    I always forget it though…

  2. I found over break that when I turn off the crackberry and just carry a cell phone, or nothing at all, that both my productivity and my relationships improve. That seems counterintuitive, that you can get things done AND be relational but I found it to be true. The urge to check email and tweet every second takes away your attention from others and requires both hands. There are so many things in your life (errands, household chores, outdoor activities, etc…) that you can do with other people and that allow you to split your attention. Carrying an email device both stops your non-work productivity and shuts down human interaction. It was a major ah-ha. Great post Jen!

  3. JD: Why don’t we do a better job of making rest time a priority?

    RH: It’s hard, especially for Americans. We are so achievement, goal oriented. Or we like to think we are and spend a lot of time spinning our wheels.

    When I was just out of college, I was talking to a friend’s mom who described her boss to me. She said he worked constantly, utilizing his time to the best of his ability. He worked on airplanes and while waiting in restaurants. And this was before computers and iPhones.

    The man was very successful in business.

    For some reason, this struck a chord with me. While I’m not quite that intense, I know I have a hidden, sub conscious pressure to “utilize every waking minute.” When I don’t (which is often) I feel guilty or ineffective.

    Yet, I know how great I feel after a rest and time away.

    It’s odd how phrases, teaching or life examples hit us when we’re developing our live values. We often don’t know we are picking up a value, but we are.

    So, I try to balance the idea of using every waking hour (I’m not that good at it anyway) with enjoying rest and relaxation.

    Great blog!


    1. Rach, you’re so right. I hadn’t thought of it, but we do pick up values. I grew up in a workaholic household. It taught me some great things about always doing your best and not stopping til something was completely done. But I think I also picked up the idea that no time was sacred–whether 11 at night, or 7 on Saturday morning.
      Great idea on balancing out work time and play time.

  4. Enjoying the moment. I get so wrapped up in the details that I don’t stop to enjoy the flowers. Great post, and great reminder that pause is just a push away. 🙂

  5. Jennifer,

    Reading your points I was not surprised to see that we are “hearing” the same thing that you are. We need to pause and focus.

    My wife, Marcy, and I are on sabbatical. We have pushed for 30+ years of ministry. Now the Lord is giving us some down-time. Time for just enjoying Him and each other. We’ve made lists of what refreshes us and what drains us. We realized that for the past several years, we’ve been doing the draining list. But we’re switching, so that we can prioritize some mutually refreshing activities.

    Today . . . I’m reading your blog. I had bookmarked it long ago. And today was my day. I’m also planning on watching a good movie with Marcy. And just hanging out here at the lake house. She’s playing one of her favorite games and waiting for me to complete this comment.

    Thanks again for taking the time to prioritize sharing your life with all of us.


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