Avoid Burnout: The Power of Pausing

Author Rachael O’ Meara explains why it’s good to take a break

Author Rachael O’ Meara explains why it’s good to take a break

By Tanisha Sykes

It’s natural to anticipate pursuing all of the goals you have for 2018. But as we head toward the end of the year, instead of readying yourself and the company to ramp up, consider taking a pause.

“To create long-term sustainability where you’re striving and not feeling stretched, you have to stop and ask yourself: “Do I want this and how does it serve me?” advises Rachael O’ Meara, a transformational coach. Here, O’Meara talks about the power of a pause for small business owners who are ready to reset and look to the future.

Your new book, Pause: Harnessing the Life-Changing Power of Giving Yourself a Break, explores giving yourself permission to take a time-out. Why is that especially important for small business owners?

In our culture, we value sustainable productivity and profits, yet we don’t take the time to refresh, renew, and recalibrate. I call it the Pause Paradox. It’s counterintuitive because we think pausing is the last thing we should do, but in reality, pausing allows us to check-in and realign ourselves.

Entrepreneurs work 24/7 to build and grow their businesses. Why is it important to pause before you need to?

We can make ourselves sick by not pausing. It’s proven! There is medical science associating increasing stress with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and mental stress. Pausing allows you to avoid burn out.

What’s your definition of a pause?

An intentional shift in behavior. It doesn’t mean you’re slacking and doing nothing, it means you’re choosing to have some downtime so that when you’re on the upcycle, you’re going for it and your energy is high. Overachievers are trained to operate on autopilot, but that’s not the life we want to create for ourselves.

So what’s the fix?

Create a pause mindset. You don’t have to take a week of vacation, although that’s a great idea. Instead, take Sunday afternoons off. Or, if you’re uncomfortable not working for an entire day, then respond during a specific time, say 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

What are some examples of a pause that small business owners can take?

Entrepreneurs can try a belly breath pause…literally taking your hand and putting it on your diaphragm and taking one breath. That’s 10 seconds of your time. Or, you can use an hour, go outside and enjoy a walk around the block. It’s a good time to check-in with your family. The idea is to intentionally create little moments in your day that fuel you for the rest of the day.

Are there specific signs that entrepreneurs can look for to identify they need a pause?

Yes, here are five signs that are applicable:

  1. You used to love what you do and now you loathe it.
  2. Your partner or even employees are saying it’s not working out.
  3. You’re too tethered to your technology.
  4. You are experiencing a severe challenge or adversity.
  5. You are overwhelmed by a new opportunity.

If you are experiencing any of these signs, it’s a good time to create a pause for yourself.

As entrepreneurs, we often think we have to have it all figured out and we must do everything ourselves. “That’s not realistic all of the time,” O’Meara says. “Pausing helps us to understand what we really want and what needs to happen. At the end of the day, it’s about living a full life with more satisfaction.”

Tanisha A. Sykes is a personal finance and career development expert with 20 years’ experience as a journalist. Follow her on Twitter: @tanishastips.

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