The Pause

It’s been a few weeks since I posted a conversation. But, with our national election over, Thanksgiving in the books, and the December holiday season staring us in the face, I realized the wisdom of catching my breath in these waning days of 2016.  Call it a pause, a break, a halftime moment to look back, look forward, and look inward.

In all candor, on any given day of the week, all of us are at midlife—in the middle of the life given us—mindful of what is past but unaware of what may reconfigure our lives as quickly as taking the next call.

I wade into these waters with you as a fellow traveler through our life stories.  What if you chose, right now, to push life’s “Pause” button?  This business affords all of us an opportunity every day to better the lives of our clients.  An effective advisory practice is demanding and rewarding, fulfilling and maddening, complex and simple, stressful, and calm.  What can happen to us often happens unexpectedly.  We get caught up in the numbers of our business – revenue, performance metrics, goal attainment – and can unwittingly find ourselves deep in the salt mine of hard labor unaware of what the job is doing to us.

Now push the “Pause” button.  Go ahead.  You can do it.  Ask your associate or partner to take your calls for the next 30 minutes, put your cell phone in airplane mode, darken the computer screen, and sit at your desk in the quiet with a blank sheet of paper and write down the first answers that come to you in response to the following questions.

  1.  What am I most looking forward to doing right now that has nothing to do with business?  
  • Are there holiday plans that involve family and friends?  If not, make some.
  • Is there a friend with whom you want to spend some time?
  • Is there a tee time or bridge game or candlelight dinner that awaits you?
  1.  What gives me joy – deep joy – unlike anything else in life?
  • Is it the smile and laughter of your children or grandchildren?
  • Is it a spiritual centeredness that enriches your soul?
  • Is it your love for art or music, the theater or time with your spouse?
  1.  If there were no limits of any kind, what would I choose to accomplish or become between now and December 31st?
  • It could be something big or small, personal, relational, business or pleasure.
  • What might the first step be to reaching that goal?

Just a few days ago, I spent two hours on my front porch with a glass of ice water and an old journal with lots of blank pages.  During that time, I made notes on the questions I’m asking you to consider.  With a gentle breeze blowing across my face as I looked out on the park in our neighborhood, I came to a place of awareness that awakened me to a new purpose, centeredness, and joy.  

Who knows what all of us might discover about ourselves if we but gave ourselves permission to push the “Pause” button and have a thoughtful review of life’s portfolio?  The possibilities might very well touch the realm of astounding.

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