If seventeen years of running my own business have taught me anything, it is the necessity of stopping to embrace the power of the pause. I have to dedicate time regularly to reflect and adjust my course of action.
As I sit and write on a balcony high above the Mediterranean, I’m noticing how regenerative this moment to stop is. It’s quiet time in Crete, but no one told the crickets. Apart from their deafening chorus in the shimmering heat, and the water bubbling in the pool, everything is still. People are resting, and with island-wide collaboration, it’s quite possible to come to a complete standstill every afternoon. In Crete, it’s a ritual that is widely respected and plays a bit part in the appeal of the island.
In this contemplative mood, it strikes me that while we rest, nature isn’t taking a break. The sea continues to roll onto the shore, and the breeze blows gently. Butterflies flit from white oleander to shocking pink Bougainvillea, and out in the far distance yachts play the wind and dance the tide.
IF I HADN’T STOPPED, I WOULDN’T HAVE NOTICED.
It’s a great lesson for those of us who run our own businesses. The world doesn’t stop when we stop, but we won’t notice what’s going on around us (and within us) if we don’t stop to take note. Taking time out allows us the space to notice and to stop being busy for busy sake, perhaps making mistakes or moving in a direction that doesn’t benefit ourselves, the people around us and the world.
I’ve built three rituals into my diary to stop and reframe, refocus and re-energise:
1. WALK EARLY
Every morning I walk at the same time. Sometimes I walk fast, sometimes I walk slowly, but every day is a chance for reflection and restoration. The early morning washes away my cares and builds resilience for the day. I relax, and then I’m ready to focus. Yes, I am moving, so the ‘stop’ is more of a moving meditation to embrace the power of the pause. It’s not the only exercise for my body; it’s time for my mind and my soul.
2. WEEKLY REVIEW
Each week I have a Management Meeting with Self. It’s my time to prioritise me so that I can check that I am continuing to create Triple Wins in my business: wins for me, those around me and the world. I check that there are benefits and contributions for everyone involved with the work we do, and I extend the agenda to all aspects of my life. This moment to stop saves me time and energy and helps to adjust the course of my work.
3. ANNUAL RETREAT FOR ONE
Once a year, I stop, alone, for one day. I think back on the previous ‘Retreat for One’ and check if my life is on track and whether I am sticking to the promises I made to myself a year back. I review the Life Design I wrote based on Gill McLaren’s book Think.Plan.Live. Before I read her book, I created my own agenda and plan, but have found that reviewing my strengths and values, and what she calls my ‘Gifts’ regularly has helped to keep me on course of what is most important to me.
EVERY NOW AND THEN I’LL ADD A HOLIDAY TO THE MIX, PROVIDING AN EXTENDED TIME TO STOP.
My experience is that when I have stuck to the discipline of the three rituals of stopping, a holiday can be just that. A time to relax and unwind, without the pressure of thinking through everything in my business. Holidays can then be a time of complete rejuvenation, helping me to stay healthy, and a contributor to reaching the goals I have set for myself.
We don’t need the Mediterranean or Crete to notice the beauty around us; we can refocus, reframe, and re-energise regularly. It’s only possible, though, if we commit to the ritual of stopping like happens every day on the island of Crete.
Now excuse me, I have an appointment with the pool. And you have an appointment with your diary to schedule your rituals to embrace the power of the pause.
First published on Smallville.com.au
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