I coached a woman named Tonya, who was having a tough time at work. She was feeling frustrated after a promised promotion ended with someone else getting the job. This was the final straw in a haystack of broken promises prompting her to look elsewhere for opportunity.
Unfortunately, she could not find the right job offer with additional income and scheduling like her current employer offered. Tonya felt advancing her career, needing scheduling flexibility, and growing her income were at a standstill. We all have similar work/life circumstances rife with excruciating stress, anxiety, and pain that is not sustainable, too, and remaining stuck is never the answer.
THE UNIVERSAL PAUSE BUTTON OF LIFE (CLICK)
Tonya felt stuck– couldn’t move up or out of her current job or organization. She felt the universe was conspiring against her. We’ve all been there or maybe you are there right now with Tonya. I’ve been there too, live long enough, and it will come around again. Fortunately, this article shares a solution that shows you how to unclick life’s pause button of pain!
Tonya felt like the universe had hit the pause button of pain on her life. You can imagine how she felt — needing to pivot out of pain, but not knowing what, how, or when it would be possible!
Can you relate?
Every day, she goes into a job that gives her less and less, asks for more, and requires her doing her best work, while enduring feelings of discouragement, hopelessness, anger, distrust, and feeling absolutely stuck in her circumstances.
The U.K. Telegraph Online made these observations about people and their happiness:
Just three in 10 people feel ‘happy with their lives’ Researchers find 69 percent of people feel trapped in the same old routine and over 40 percent are unhappy with their lives
PAUSES CAN BE PAINFUL, BUT MORE OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD
I shared with Tonya how life’s pauses are generally misunderstood. Most of us know how painful, uncomfortable, and frustrating it is believing, feeling, or knowing there is something better waiting down our life’s path, but the path is not illuminated between your current pain state and future pleasure state.
Tonya and many of us feel antsy and confused, when we cannot move quickly toward our pleasure state and get out of pain — now. However, I’ve learned that running down your life’s path, in the dark (not knowing where you are going or what you are doing) can be disastrous.
In fact, it may be the reason you are currently in the circumstances you are in today — running from fears, not being patient, thinking the grass is greener, etc. If you can’t see where you are going, how do you trust your path (process of moving forward) at all? However, there is a light out of the darkness and an immediate pivot onto an illuminated path, when you understand the true nature of your life’s pauses.
THE PIVOT POINT OUT OF PAIN: UNDERSTANDING LIFE’S PAUSES
So, Tonya and I talked about the pauses of life taking on the meanings we give them. And, how those meanings keep us stuck or propel us forward in life. Feeling like your life is on pause is human, however, making meaning of your pause is a choice.
There are two common meanings people make of their life’s pauses: Belief their pause is either good or bad.
1. BELIEF YOUR PAUSE IS BAD: This feeds hopelessness, blaming, fear, and frustration, but does not change anything. For example:
a. I feel stuck in this job, because I don’t have the right connections. (Blame)
b. I feel like I’ll never be able to live abroad, because I can’t afford it. (Fear)
c. I feel like everything is working against me, because I never get a break. (Hopelessness)
Believing your pause is bad puts your life’s control into the hands of circumstance and treating them as if they are concrete instead of clay. You are given circumstances to mold, create, and amplify good in your life and in other’s lives. You must take back control with belief in a Good Pause.
A great illustration is the “Pregnant Pause”:
Webster’s dictionary defines a pregnant pause as: A pause that builds up suspension in the listener/viewer, for a greater dramatic (especially comic) effect of what follows the pause.
2. BELIEF YOUR PAUSE IS GOOD: You must figure out what you must labor for and give birth too that feeds hope, accountability, confidence, and fulfilment as your pleasure state. For example:
a. While I’m stuck in this job, I will use this time to start crafting a plan that facilitates the right connections and people for greater opportunities here or elsewhere. (Accountability, Control)
b. While I feel like I’ll never be able to live abroad, I will use this time to find a few people who’ve successfully done it and create an informed action plan that lets me live abroad too. (Confidence)
c. While I feel like everything is working against me, I will use this time to focus on finding what will work for me — I’ll create good breaks — my circumstances are clay and I’m the potter. (Hope)
We must all focus on making GOOD meanings of our pauses not BAD ones!
3 LITTLE KNOWN TIPS TO UNCLICKING YOUR LIFE’S UNIVERSAL PAUSE BUTTON
Understanding your pauses’ meanings is a choice: good or bad. And, you must see pauses as “pregnant pauses of possibility” for reflection and discovery of your way forward. To move forward in the dark, you need a light, so you can see a few paces ahead, obstacles, and confidently make steady progress on your pleasure state’s path.
Now, your path has three obstacles — let’s call them boxes on it. Boxes you must find, unpack, and use to unclick life’s pause button. Each box contains 1 of 3 flashlight parts: Bulb, Flashlight Tube, and Batteries, so you can illuminate your life’s path:
1. (BULB) Vivid vision: This is a compelling, uncompromising, crystal clear vision of your pleasure state. It’s a “MUST” for you. It is worth fighting for tooth and nail! This means pulling late nights, getting up earlier before work, breaking mental/physical bad habits, etc. No matter what happens, in work/life, you are a heat seeking missile aimed at your pleasure state. It is what you can’t stop thinking about, dreaming about, scheming about day and night, to quote Les Brown.
Adopt a mentality that you won’t rest until you act and make your pleasant state happen. This doesn’t mean burning yourself out but showing resolve in the face of anything attempting to derail your efforts.
How I applied #1: the day my wife and I stopped talking about going on vacation and started pulling up resort rates online, checking our leave balances at work, and calculating the cost of going to St. Maarten instead of just dreaming about it. As in work or life, you must know specifically where you are going, so you can count the cost and start preparing for your trip (mentally and physically).
2. (FLASHLIGHT TUBE) Patient Process: This is the revelation and transformation resulting from your path being illuminated. It is satisfying and painful, because it’s growth. You will learn and lose somethings on your path, which is part of the process of making room in your mental backpack for success supplies you’ll need for remaining focused (no matter what) on achieving your pleasure state.
This means you staying positive through your day’s current state of pain, while working on your pleasure state every free moment you can beg, borrow, or steal. You must reflect on the behaviors and relationships (to things and people) you must change so you can focus and act on your movement toward your pleasure state.
Such as ending low value, toxic relationships with people in your life. Or, you may become a volunteer sharing what you love and aligned with your pleasure state. These changes will help create more capacity and focus required for reaching your pleasure state.
How I applied #2: Our St. Maarten trip was several weeks in the making and waiting. Yes, waiting for the right rates, allocating funds, finding flights, arranging childcare, and getting projects done sooner, before even considering the beach vacation. It became our singular mission — we need a break (On St. Marteen) and we did what it took to reach St. Maarteen.
Now, cheaper vacations popped up like weeds, but those ads merely served to divert our attention away from making St. Marteen a reality. When your pleasure state is on the line, do not compromise!
3. (BATTERIES) Champion Connections: These people are further along in life. They give your bulb power to illuminate your path, so you can safely travel along it. This is where experts like Keith Ferrazzi comes in. There are millions of people out there that have been where you are going.
However, they don’t work for free, so you must learn how to engage, enrich, and be patient with them as they come into mutually beneficial relationships with you. Keith is a world renown expert in the champion connection space with books and at least one online course on Udemy.
This lesson about connecting with champions isn’t new, but it resonates differently when I consider how long I’ve been on a professional island cut-off from collaboration or support. And, seeing the impact of not having or being a champion for someone else — you stagnate, have fewer options, and have more difficulty getting off pause and staying that way.
How I applied #3: So, our best efforts hit a snag. We lacked expert knowledge of St. Maarten, so selecting the right condo was a chore. We did not know how water proximity dramatically reduced rental pricing. Like, a few hundred feet equating to a few hundred dollars less per day or week! An expert, when and where you need it, is rocket fuel for you unclicking your life’s pause button.
I can still remember breaking through the clouds over the sandy Isle of St. Marteen, as the jet descended through beautiful white clouds, over light blue waters, to touch down on a sandy expanse dotted by palm trees. It was only a few hours later, before we were sipping from fresh cut coconuts on a St. Maarten beach. The work/life struggle is real, and so are the rewards — don’t give up!
YOUR PATH’S LIGHT — ASSEMBLY IS REQUIRED
Life’s pauses make you stop, so you don’t trip over the three boxes on your unlit path to your pleasure state. The pleasure state that’s too far away to see with your eyes or run too without tripping over boxes in the dark. If you remain on your path and assemble your flashlight, you will see your path illuminate just beyond your pain state, faster, and enter your pleasure state more quickly.
DON’T TRY TO ILLUMINATE YOUR ENTIRE PATH — YOU’LL BLOW YOUR MENTAL LIGHTBULB
You might be asking, “Why can’t you see the whole path all at once?”
Jack Nicholson answers this question best:
See, your pause and path provide tumult and treasures that would be TOO alarming IF YOU SAW THEM ALL AT ONCE and out of context. You need processing time for making meaning out of what confronts you on your path. If you do not take time and build context around your experiences (Good Meaning), you will end up overwhelmed eating an entire elephant of possibilities instead of one bite at a time.
For example: “Getting a college degree can be overwhelming until you realize nothing happens until you enroll. And, progress toward completing a degree is one class at a time.” Your path is like getting a college degree. You will learn individual lessons that will help you reach your goal, which is how your path works — you get the context of where you are and are going, so you can keep going without overwhelm.
Otherwise, “Pop!” your bulb is blown trying to take in more than you are equipped to handle at any point on your path. This would make any pleasure state path seem more like a nightmare and your destination an impossibility, because you made the wrong meaning rushing toward your pleasure state!
Patience and process allow your flashlight’s illumination of bite sized portions of your life’s path. It is just enough illumination required to see, process, learn, and do what matters most in the moment — no more.
HERE’S THE ADVICE I GAVE TONYA (THAT WILL WORK FOR YOU TOO)
1. (Bulb = Vivid Vision) Tonya needed to unpack and create her ideal pleasure state that embodies the salary, flexibility, location, and opportunities for growth she dreams about day and night.
She will spend quality time making sure her pleasure state vividly resonates with her core values and aligns with her overall direction for her best life. These actions will help her create a crystal-clear vision for herself that feels right, authentic, compelling, necessary, a bit scary, and ultimately exciting without being overwhelming.
2. (Body Tube = Patient Process) Tonya must unpack her patience and stick to the “revelation — transformation” process, which means not rushing through needed research into jobs fitting her description. Not letting negative thoughts about her pleasure state dim her vivid vision, nor allowing bumps/setbacks on her path dissuade, discourage, and/or distract her from her chosen path.
This means maintaining her focus on bite-sized, actions and steps versus focusing her precious attention on all the possible steps she thinks must be taken toward reaching her pleasure state.
Remember, unfocused thinking will induce worry and often results in overwhelm getting in the way of a clear course of action. If you have trouble focusing your thoughts, you may find it useful practicing stillness such as a nature walk or meditation, before embarking on any serious self-reflective activities.
3. (Battery = Champion Connections) Finally, Tonya and I discussed the importance of taking her 12- month pause and getting connected with people she must meet, learn about openings, and building educational/social bridges to her pleasure state (the third box unpacked).
She must find champions with money, wisdom, introductions, perspective, to name a few things, whose flashlights have illuminated theirs and other’s paths to success. A great resource is Keith Ferrazzi’s book and relationship action plan (RAP) concept that spells out what Tonya must do consistently for the types of business and social relationships she needs for moving into her next opportunity.
Now, Tonya has unpacked all three boxes, assembled her flashlight, and is ready for champion connections who will help her follow her pleasure state’s path. And, so can you.
Remember, your pause is what you make it, so make it a good one, by following the flashlight assembly instructions:
1. Create a vivid vision.
2. Follow your process with patience.
3. Find champion connections who have been where you are going
Follow these three steps, and I guarantee you’ll be on your well-lit path moving toward the pleasure state that gives you a better work and/or life results. These tips worked for me and those I’ve coached, so I know they will work for you, too.
I thank you for stopping by today.
I know you and millions of others want more control over their food and life’s narrative, so you can live better.
A Great Motivational Speaker Jim Rohn once said, “For things to get better, I must get better. For things to change, I must change.
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