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Embracing the Pause: How a Day of Doing "Nothing" Can Propel You Forward

Updated: May 24


Time is our greatest asset.

We have the power to control it.

We can each choose a path:

  1. Do everything [important].

  2. Do absolutely nothing [important].

It is up to us to use time to our benefit. Use it wisely.

My Learning This Week:

The more I pause and reflect, the quicker I get where I want to go.

A Monumental Pivot Gave Grace for a Pause

This week, I had a monumental pivot in my life. Instead of running away from it and burying myself in work (the usual), I decided to lean into it and reflect. I took a full day off in the middle of the week... I took a pause.

There was no agenda or direction. I have a million important things I needed to do, but I chose to do none of it. And on the other side, I have more energy. I am centered. I have purpose. I am expedited in everything I have done since.

Discover the world. Discover ourselves.

We forget what it is to just discover. As children, we take it all in and "we just do." As adults, we feel we have to "have a reason to do."

We have a 3-day weekend coming up. I encourage all of us to take a moment and not have a reason to do anything. Give it a try!

(FYI: I was not alone, and you don't have to be either. It was a day outside of the usual approach and with someone who was happy to do the same!)

Side Note → Some of this was spurred by our latest webinar: Generative Listening with Brent Robertson. Have a listen!

How I Spent My Day of "Nothing"

Here is what I did this week. Just read it once and do what feels right for you. The point is to have no agenda, so use it as you wish:

  1. Breathe Deep

    1. Pay attention to your breath.

    2. Be intentional and keep checking in with your breath. Tip: It's okay to be calm and slow and then be quick and speedy.

  2. Wander Without Direction

    1. If something sparks your interest, lean into it.

    2. Don't be afraid to jump around a "shiny object it." Tip: If there is a tour going, just join it.

  3. Look Up

    1. Whatever is in front of you, really see it.

    2. Go close, look intently. Zoom out and see the whole picture. Tip: Don't be afraid to really look up to the sky.

  4. Read Comprehensively

    1. As you're looking up, if there is something to read, just read it. Doesn't matter if it is interesting.

    2. Read it comprehensively. Tip: Whatever you learned, just let it go.

  5. Listen Deep

    1. Pick out each sound individually. We often miss sounds because we hear so much at once.

    2. Listen to the whole symphony. Tip: Whatever you hear, seek the most interesting sound and go towards it.

  6. Stop Moving

    1. Feel your body, and if it feels ready to sit, just sit. If it feels ready to lay down, lay down.

    2. Sometimes standing still for a few minutes at a stop light can help you lean in. Tip: If you tune into your body, it will guide you.

For me, it was certainly unusual to be so tapped in and present with my surroundings. And doing "nothing" often means just sitting, meditating and lounging.

This was a different approach... It was an "active nothing."

Pause to Pivot.

If you have other tips to share, please share.

Doorway to your future

Here is a key photo from my day.

This was such a beautiful door on Yale campus I have passed 20x and never taken the time to really look or to look through at the possibility of what might be on the other side. This was the most incredible memory I definitely hope to always remember.

The part I love best are the detail on the doors. Those patterns... wow.

The insignia above it says, "For God For Country and For Yale." (just in case you were wondering!)

What's Actually Happening to our Brain When we Pause?

Pausing, or taking deliberate breaks from our routine activities, has profound effects on our brains that foster growth and well-being. It reduces stress by lowering cortisol levels and enhancing our ability to regulate emotions, creating a calmer state. These breaks also prevent cognitive fatigue, improving focus and memory consolidation.

Pausing encourages creativity and problem-solving through mind-wandering and incubation periods, where our subconscious mind continues working on solutions. It supports neuroplasticity, allowing our brains to form new neural connections essential for learning and adapting.

By promoting mindfulness and present moment awareness, pausing reduces anxiety and enhances mental well-being. Additionally, breaks improve physical health by reducing tension and fatigue, which in turn supports cognitive function and emotional balance.

Integrate pauses like short breaks, mindful breathing, nature walks, digital detoxes, and daily reflection time. These practices help our brains rest, reset, and grow, leading to enhanced mental health, cognitive function, and overall well-being.


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