Pause


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The first of my three words for 2019 is "Pause".

Several years back I took to adopting Chris Brogan's practice of choosing three words to live by in the new year instead of resolutions.

Over time, I've made adjustments to this practice.

The first adjustment is that I spend January thinking of what these words will be.

Most people who adopt this habit spend the time between Thanksgiving and the end of the year figuring out what their three words will be. I've found that it works better if I don't begin the new year trying to live up to these words.

When I begin anything on January 1, I've often strayed within that first week.

So I start thinking of my words on January 1 and refine the list until I have just three.

Most years I have difficulty either coming up with a third word or with reducing the list to three. Candidates for the third word this year were "Produce", and "Publish". I think I've come up with a third word that will result in those two happening.

So - "Pause".

My first word was going to be "Patience". In fact, the genesis of my first two words was from Thomas Keller's great second course available from MasterClass.

He talks about how that is his number one advice for young chefs.

Be patient with your career - don't be in such a rush.

Be patient with others.

Be patient with yourself.

Let's look at these.

So, Be patient with your career.

Even at my age, it's difficult to be patient with my career. There are so many things I want to accomplish and so I head out in too many directions and end up completing less than I would want. I need to focus and just do one or two things well and things will progress nicely.

I love that there are still so many opportunities and options available to me.

When I was younger I was in a rush to get past the early stages and get to the good parts.

Now, it's more that I feel the ticking clock telling me I only have so much time left where I can be productive - where, in this society, I'll be allowed to contribute. It pushes me to go faster when I need to be patient and do things right.

Be patient with others.

My dad is not the man he once was. It is sad to see in him and it probably is the reminder to me of the limited time I have left.

After dinner he likes a scoop of ice cream.

For years, they've brought a list to the table and he chooses quickly.

As it got harder for him to express himself, this took longer.

He still wanted to make his own choice but it could take him thirty minutes to get there.

So what.

What's the rush?

In the meantime we're sitting together at dinner.

It takes him a half hour to do something he used to be able to do in a few seconds. I wonder how that feels to him.

I wonder if I'll be patient with myself when I get to that point.

Be patient with yourself.

How many times have I gotten angry at myself for something I would have forgiven in others?

More times than there are days that I've lived.

There's a poem I half remember from childhood that I was told came from an old Burma Shave advertisement:

Don't lose your head to save a minute

You need your head, your brain is in it.

But my word isn't "Patience".

Patience didn't seem actionable.

Patience feels like something I'll grow to resent.

My word is "Pause".

Before you shout, "just order some f'ing ice cream already"... pause.

Breathe.

Better. Before you think, "just make up your mind"... pause.

Really? Pause before you have the thought?

Sure. You can feel it coming. You can feel yourself getting annoyed or anxious.

Breathe.

Don't even think about what was driving you there. Pause before you even have the thought.

You read something on the internet and are about to respond.

Pause

Don't write it.

If you can't help yourself, go ahead write it

Pause

Don't send it

I broke this rule yesterday and it didn't go well.

It never goes well.

"But Daniel," you say, "We live in such a fast paced world. Aren't you afraid that if you pause you'll be left out of some things?"

I certainly will be.

But if I'm patient with my career, with others, with myself - does that matter?

2019

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