Pause to Conquer Bigger Goals

In a world that demands fast, live slow. If you told me that a month ago, I would repel the idea. All I knew was how to keep at pace, if not how to keep ahead with an environment that keeps moving.

I’ve only known to have a full calendar with no margin in my day. I was overspread with commitments in every area of my life. I was busy with housework, busy in the office, busy in my community. These aren’t necessarily bad things, but the issue of an overcrowded life plagued me. Even though I had a spritz of quiet moments in my day to preserve my sanity, all in all, I didn’t have a prolonged detachment to the whirlwind of life’s demands, and I’m constantly reeled in.

Our move across the country permitted me to pull away from routines I’m so accustomed to for more than a decade. I was able to craft my days from a clean slate. I took a step back and evaluated where I should put my time and focus. The space that it created in my life introduced a different dimension of a serene enjoyment of little things. I didn’t quite associate stillness to productivity. But stillness produced clarity for me when I stopped to define what success means.

Productivity isn’t about getting more things done; it’s about getting the right things done.

Michael Hyatt

My daughter started Kindergarten this week. I was looking at their daily schedule and spotted a rather unusual segment of the day I hadn’t known while I was in school. They call it “structured brain breaks.” This was extra time built into the day on top of their recess time and lunchtime. It’s a pilot program that will allow the students to have increased opportunities for scheduled brain breaks each day while not missing any learning opportunities. It primes their body and brain to promote greater focus to attention and learning. I like that even though their heads aren’t buried in academic drills, they are still learning.

I crave more than a few minutes of brain break in my day. In fact, I consider taking the whole year as my sabbatical break. I intentionally distance myself from everything I know and refresh my outlook. I mindfully keep my commitments slim for this time being. Here are three lessons I’ve learned so far:

Amplify The Inner Voice

I started believing again in the potential and possibilities of goals that have been buried by circumstantial neglect of attention. I wake up energized by the thought that I have a purpose and there’s something designated for me to accomplish right where I’m at. I do not know the details yet, but I seek to understand daily how to connect all the dots. I mute the negative self-talk and amplify the volume of belief and hope. Block off time for focused attention for deep work that moves the needle to our heart’s desires.

Service Takes Another Form

I’m used to board meetings as a form of getting the meaty discussions flowing; important decisions are made then we roll up our sleeves to execute. These days, it’s fewer meetings and more chores. I remind myself of a profound realization I’ve had a couple of years back… I could plainly be cooking or folding the clothes, and I’m right where I need to be. My service is unto my family, and they are my first priority. I recognize the impressionable impact it makes to a family member when they see a demonstration of selfless service right in their own home. I echo Mandi Rivieccio’s experience when she retells that the time away (during sabbatical) lent a certain magic to the mundane. It felt like a privilege to be at home cooking a meal and tackling that mountain of laundry.

Pivot with Courage

Henry David Thoreau inspired me when he said to “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you have imagined.” As I thought it through, it felt even more so like my heart is in my throat. There’s an overhanging restlessness knowing I had nowhere else to go but to step outside of my comfort zone. It prompted me to ask myself what I would do today if I were brave. I’ve drawn some actionable insights from past failures. But more revealing to me was how I’d processed my emotions to face the unknown.

One important thing: Vision precedes strategy. I was fastened into this journey that took our family to new heights of adventure because we got hold of a compelling vision that drove us forward in this direction. Yet our days aren’t action-packed as some would imagine how to drive goals forward.

I confess that what I consider to be the most productive time I’ve spent looks like sitting on the porch, watching the mornings switch colors as the sky peel a dark film that gradually turns bright blue, while contemplating, praying, and reading God’s Word. I enjoy quiet afternoons talking with my spouse and exchanging ideas, getting on the same page with him, stirring up the excitement as we both paint the picture together. It’s knowing that we show our kids the practice of being still in a world that just can’t stop moving.

Why You Need to Pause to Conquer Bigger Goals

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