Are you feeling like you’re overwhelmed and running on fumes? Do you feel like throwing it all in and quitting just to give yourself a break? Instead of quitting, consider taking a pause. It’s actually something I’ve done repeatedly throughout building my own career.
Intentional pauses are something my mother taught me. As an introvert who’s continuously working to be an extrovert, I love that the world is coming back, but I also know my limits and the importance of being alone and recharging. It may seem like I’ve been active lately, but for the past couple of months, I’ve really been taking a strategic “pause.” I’ve built my career and my team in a way that I’m able to take these pauses and recharge without feeling like I’m falling behind.
I’ve had some tremendous career opportunities this year, which I’m so grateful for. One of the reasons I’ve been able to seize those opportunities is because I’ve made it a priority in my life to balance out my career and self-care.
Pausing Doesn’t Mean You Need to Stop Working Altogether
It’s just temporarily stopping and giving yourself time to recharge. Then you can reevaluate how to achieve your goals in a more sustainable way for where you’re at. I’m all about finding ways to work smarter. Intentional pauses can help give you the mental clarity you need to move your career forward. They also serve as a great way to unwind, recharge, and feel ready to tackle your next goal.
Prioritize Yourself and Avoid Burnout
For me, the idea of taking intentional pauses really hit when I had reached a certain point in my career. I realized that I had met all of my professional goals, yet I still wasn’t feeling successful. The part of my life that I was lacking was my health. I hadn’t been giving myself time to recharge and felt so mentally and physically drained. I knew I needed to make myself and my mental and physical health my number one priority. I had to invest not just in my career but in my whole self.
One of the earliest memories of needing a pause came when I was traveling around the country to speak at events. I started to feel the physical and mental toll traveling was taking on my body. I didn’t want to give the events up, but my body truly needed a break. Realizing I had been pushing myself to the point of exhaustion, I decided to get strategic. How could I pivot and achieve the same results? I started to look for ways that I could do even more with less. For example, I started taking podcast interviews and speaking on virtual panels – these activities take up less time – and I can even do podcast interviews from home! Over time, I found that I was actually going further and taking up less energy.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years is the importance of pacing yourself. You’re not sprinting a marathon. You’re trying to build a long-lasting career, and that takes time, patience, and lots of self-care. I can’t tell you how many times in the last ten years I have paused my career. I pause and use the time for self-reflection. Whenever I pause, I ask myself these critical questions:
- What do I need to change?
- Do I need to prioritize myself or take better care of myself?
- How can I do this better?
- How else can I do this?
Checking in with myself and asking these questions helps me understand where I’m at with my mental health, self-care, and even in my career.
The better you get with taking intentional pauses, the more productive you’re going to feel. I dedicate an entire section to taking strategic pauses in my best-selling book, The DevelopHer Playbook. That’s how essential I think it is to have long-lasting careers.
Start with giving yourself permission to pause and do nothing and let that be okay. Then, take the day off, or even an afternoon, and write down your thoughts, feelings, or goals. I’ve gotten some of my best ideas when I’ve taken time away to let my brain unwind and relax. It might feel like a weird new concept to adapt to your lifestyle at first, especially in a society where we are constantly encouraged to push ourselves to our limits. But I promise the people who get the furthest in life are the people who know when it’s time to take a break and recharge. Now, it’s your turn!