Harness the Life-Changing Power of Giving Yourself a Break

Give Yourself a Break

Most of us feel like the world we live in is continuing to move at a faster and faster pace. The rate of technological change is accelerating in a way that makes many of us feel we will never catch up.

Whether it’s home automation, smart cars, or artificial intelligence, nearly everything is being reinvented.

At work, expectations go up each month. We are trying to do more with less, wringing out every last minute of productivity, locked in a world of global competition.

Do you ever feel the need to pause? To take a deep breath?

Rachael O’Meara was working at Google as a customer support manager when she started to struggle. She was burned out and knew that she couldn’t continue without making major changes.

She decided to pause.

And, after giving herself a powerful break, she now shares her experience with all of us. Her new book—with what I think is a spectacularly simple and clever book cover—is Pause: Harnessing the Life-Changing Power of Giving Yourself a Break. I recently spoke with her about her experience and her new book.

 

“The wisdom is in the pause.” -Alice Walker

 

What’s the Rachael O’Meara definition of a pause?

I define a pause as any intentional shift in behavior that allows you the space to experience a mental shift in attitude, thoughts, or emotions that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred. A few examples are taking a long deep breath, not checking your phone for a set period of time, or doing something outside of your comfort zone that you are interested in. Taking a pause isn’t so that you can think more. It’s to do the exact opposite. It’s the space for you to step away from your everyday life and not focus on what is ruling your thoughts.

 

“Decision is a risk rooted in the courage of being free.” -Paul Tillich

 

Take a Daily Pause

Talk about the daily pause. What’s the best way to do it?

Pausing can allow new ideas to emerge, more satisfaction, and new ways of being and behaving that are aligned with what matters to you. The only requirement is your conscious choice to decide to shift your behavior. One of the easiest ways to do this is through what I call daily pauses. The best way to do this is to start simple and follow your breath. Sit or stand with both feet firmly on the ground and close your eyes if you are comfortable doing so. Place one hand on your diaphragm and slowly inhale, hold your breath, and slowly exhale. Count each inhale until you get to ten breaths. A few other ways to get started is to create a daily one-minute “mindful” pause – while you do something else or on its own notice what you feel, see, hear, taste or smell. Expressing gratitude is another great daily pause where you can set a timer for one or two minutes and write or say as many things that come to mind.

 

5 Signs That You Need a Pause

  1. You use to love your job; now you loathe it.
  2. The boss tells you it’s not working out.
  3. An intervention separates you from your technology.
  4. A major life event, challenge, or change happens.
  5. A new opportunity reveals itself.

 

You share your story of working at Google, your near burnout, your personal experience with a pause. If you fail to take daily pauses, does that build up to a need to take a longer one?

Pausing is about what works for you and consciously choosing to shift. It may not be realistic to take a long pause as I did. Daily pauses are a great way to tune in and notice what you’re feeling or follow a desire that brings you joy or feels nourishing. In my case, I hadn’t done any of that and I wasn’t present to myself or aware of what could help me before I got into my burned-out situation. A pause by no means needs to be that long, and the idea is that if you can build it into your day to shift your behavior that aligns with what matters to you, you can avoid burning out and instead choose to have more breaks within a day and notice what really matters.

 

“The minute you begin to do what you really want to do, it’s a really different kind of life.” -R. Buckminster Fuller

 

We live in a society where many feel they can’t even take their vacation days, let alone a long pause from work. Why is this toxic?

1 Sure Way to Kill Your Job Interview

Watch Your Words

He looked like the perfect hire on paper.

Relevant experience? Check.

Good education? Check.

Awards and accolades? Check.

References? Check.

Two interviewers in, he was impressing in a positive way. I was the third interviewer and asked him about his past employer.

That’s when everything changed.

His face immediately turned red. He took a deep breath. His jaw clamped shut and you could see the muscles in his face tense.

I suppose he could have recovered, but it only got worse.

He started to unleash his anger about how he was treated, who did what, why he left. There was an untold story and this was his chance to tell it.

Wrong answer.

 

“Silence is a true friend who never betrays.” -Confucius

 

Focus on the Positive

It almost never pays to malign your former employer whether on an interview or even within your social network.

Were you wronged? Let’s face it: no one cares.

And, when all is said and done, who is hurt more? You are. You become known as someone who is negative, someone who is bitter. It’s far better to say nothing.

 

“Saying nothing . . . sometimes says the most.” -Emily Dickinson

 

In my career, I have had the good fortune of working for some amazing companies. I learned from each one.

Incredible experiences. All positive. New skills. Lifelong friends.

I could choose to focus on the negative, too. But I choose not to.

I choose to celebrate what I learned along the way. And honestly, I really don’t have anything negative to say. My mind simply cannot grasp how anyone wouldn’t have a positive experience.

Choose to be positive. Describe your employer in positive terms. Explain what you learned.

You don’t have to be fake. You don’t have to give false praise. Be truthful, but focus on the positive.

Even the bad boss will have some positive attribute.

 

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” –Zig Ziglar

 

3 Reactions to Your Complaints

Change Your Day With A Deep Breath

Photo by dfbphotos on flickr.

7 Benefits of Deep Breathing

 

We’ve all said it.  “Take a deep breath.”

When the kids come running in the door, breathing heavily and launching into a story a mile a minute.  “Take a deep breath.”

When someone is panicked and trying to tell you what happened, but she is obviously under duress.  “Relax.  Take a breath, then tell me.”

 

“When you own your own breath, nobody can steal your peace.” -Unknown

 

When he storms into your office with a voice just beneath a yell, red-faced and angry about something someone did.  “Before you tell me another word, take a deep breath.

But the real benefit comes from breathing before a crisis or stressful event.  A deep breath almost at any time can change your mood, improve your day and help you achieve more.  I don’t always remember to do it, but when I do, my day is more relaxed and I have a better and calmer presence.  As a singer, I know that I feel better after singing a difficult song.  The reason may very well be the forced deep breathing from the diaphragm.

Some of the benefits of practiced deep breathing: