It never changes. Without fail, I overpack my suitcase with unneeded items every time I travel. I need “this” because “that might happen”. I probably should take an extra set of shoes.  Do I really need my personal laptop, my iPad and my work computer?  What if the weather changes, or an unexpected meeting gets scheduled? Will they really have a hair dryer at the hotel?  I probably should pack that carry-on to capacity with special items I might need, just in case. “Take half the clothes and twice the money” is an adage that seems reasonable to me, but not the wisdom I actually I follow.  

“On a long journey, even a straw weighs heavy.” This Spanish proverb illustrates a simple truth. Our resilience for the long-term depends on awareness of what we carry, or the beliefs and behaviors that accompany us. A small issue can weigh us down and limit our success. Perhaps we have the opportunity to add something new and positive that will take us to the next level, but we aren’t noticing what that is. How do we know what we are carrying? Can we delete anything without paying a price? Do we have a choice about what we take with us moving forward? 

Pausing can help you discern what you are carrying in and out of the phases of your life. Before you continue in the same fashion, with the same baggage you have always carried, seek some awareness about yourself. Discern what about your past chapter needs left behind, so you can say “goodbye”. Be deliberate so you can say “hello” to what you want to take with you into your new chapter.

Can I share a coaching tool with you, an exercise called “Practicing the Pause”? Practicing the Pause makes you stop so you can make proactive choices. You are in charge of what you put in your “suitcase” for the journey ahead. I invite you to devote an hour of unhindered time this week to work through the “Practicing the Pause” exercise.  The three questions below will guide your thoughts. Be prepared to record your awareness and commitments. As you pause, give yourself permission to linger in this in-between space without rushing. Let yourself be an observer of the “chapter” you just concluded, and the “chapter” you are beginning. You might choose to focus on your leadership style, your family relationships, your emotional health, your workplace rhythms, your team, your career path, your friendships, your boundaries, or another area important to you.

Pausing gives you permission to dump out your proverbial suitcase, sort through what you see, and repack only what you want to pack.  Perhaps items you have always carried are no longer useful.  You do not need to take them with you moving forward. You have the opportunity to include new things that have value, things you want with you for your journey ahead.

Use the three powerful coaching questions below to gain new perspective. “Practicing the Pause” can help you recover from a difficult chapter, as well as take hold of an opportunity you do not want to miss.   

What from your old chapter will you leave behind?

Create a timeline of the last few months and note major events. What were your memorable negatives or positives?  How did these fall on your timeline? As you consider themes that emerge, think about how you have grown or how you have remained stagnant. Sometimes celebration is in order, sometimes grieving. Name a specific behavior, attitude or belief you will leave behind in your old chapter, and the benefits that choice will bring to you.

What will continue from your old chapter?

As you are becoming more aware of the events of your old chapter timeline, what do you realize will continue into your new chapter? Perhaps it is a positive growth area you want to maintain, or a difficult challenge area you cannot leave behind yet. Name one or two realities that will continue into your new chapter, and how you want to handle them. How does naming those realities make you more resilient?

What do you want to add to your new chapter?

Now that you’ve made some room, what new thing do you want to add to your “suitcase”? Go ahead, dream big. Envision what it will look like when that new thing is working for you in your new chapter. What can you add that will build your resilience and help you stay strong? Don’t be afraid to design a few experiments for yourself and try on the new attitude or behavior you are bringing into your new chapter.

Invest in yourself and choose one hour this week to Practice the Pause. Grow your awareness about what you are currently carrying and what choices you really have. Your goal is to move away from the rigidness of routine, and the pressure of having no margin. Take some time to repack your suitcase with what will serve you best. Pause first, and then make choices. You will be better prepared to move into your new chapter with vitality and purpose.

Ready to engage an Executive Coach to build your resilience? Contact Wendy at today.