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Pressing Pause

Image of three people smiling at the camera

Here’s what happened when I paused work, even though it was painful.

I think I’ve been on the move my whole life. My mom tells me I wouldn’t stop moving from the time I was a baby, and it is a well known tale in my family that I would follow my siblings around the house talking at them even when they were trying to get away. I was always hyper-involved in school activities, from sports practices to thousands of hours of theater rehearsals.

You know the term burning the candle at both ends? Well, I tend to live in a way where my candle is rotating on a spit, I have a flame thrower in one hand and a torch in the other. And if I am really being honest with you (and myself), I have found a tremendous amount of pride in my ability to do so many things it left people telling me, “Sarah, I just don’t know how you do it all.”

Since being on my own for nearly 1.5 years, the pace hasn’t slowed down. If anything, it has picked up. This is the natural speed for most business owners in their first few years, and it’s also why I don’t believe you should start a business unless you cannot see yourself doing anything else. You must love your work deeply to work it intensely.

You who have followed alongside me in this journey know that I’ve struggled with managing self-care with this growing company. Which brings me to last week. Nick and I had just come home after a week of vacation with his family, and I was gearing up for a speaking engagement at the Wisconsin Dells. Since I usually stay the night following my engagement to recharge from the event, I invited my parents to join me for the trip.

My inbox was swollen from me trying to disconnect (not successfully, but better than usual), along with prepping for all the events happening in June, and my anxiety was peaking. The thoughts going through my head were, “Sarah, what are you thinking taking a day off to spend playing in the Wisconsin Dells? You have people waiting for you, work to be done, and do you really need to take this time since you just had last week off?”

When faced with stress like this, I often turn to my husband to talk things through. “Nick, is this stupid? I don’t know how I can justify taking a day off to spend with my parents when people are relying on me, my stress is high, and I’m not sure I can make this work.” Nick of course responded, “A few nights with just your folks, you need to do it. It will be ok because you’ll make it work”.

Here’s the reality:

Every time we say yes to something, we are saying no to something else.

I had been saying yes to work for so long that it didn’t even register anymore how often I was saying no to my family, my friends, and myself.

Not this week. This week, I was going to pause work, even though it was painful. Even though I knew there would be discomfort on my part. Even though I knew some of my clients would need to wait another day or two for a response. I was going to pause work so I could play with my family.

Here is what happened when I slowed down and said yes to my parents:

  • We discovered this wonderful lunch/shop combo called “The General Store” in Spring Green, WI, and we enjoyed a lovely farm-to-table meal complete with a “Curiosity Soda.” Most importantly, I was witness to my dad laughing so hard he almost choked looking at a coloring book titled, “This is My F*cking Coloring Book.”
  • My parents were able to see behind the scenes as I prepared my keynotes, and even offered to be audience members for a run-through in the hotel, offering me great notes for the next day. My dad, who hasn’t seen me speak in over 2 years, snuck into the back of the conference and got to see his daughter do her thing.
  • Because of rain, we found ourselves at an incredible arcade and spent way more time and money than most people without kids would. I love that my parents, even as they gracefully age into their 70s, still love a good video game. My dad immediately played “Space Invaders” while mom and I collected the complete set of character cards at the Wonka coin pushing game, including the Golden Ticket! There may have been high fives and laughter. *Asking for a friend, but anyone know someone selling a used one of these games?

But most importantly, I was able to spend quality 1-on-1 time with my parents where we laughed, tried new things, spent a healthy amount of money on coin pushing games, and just simply existed together for two days. Now that our entire family is 19 people and growing, any 1-on-1 time is sacred.

Here is the truth. When I look back and reflect on my favorite memories at the end of the year, it won’t be the emails I answered or the late nights with my head in my laptop. It will be moments like this. Where I laughed more than not, where I spent time with those most important, and where I said YES when it mattered.

Getting Curious

I know not everyone has the flexibility to pause work like I was able to, but my wish (and challenge) is for you to find a moment this week where you can say yes to something that brings you joy that you wouldn’t normally. And I would love to hear all about it.

Cheers to saying YES to things that matter!

Comments (7)

Thank you for taking time off to spend with us. We have great memories of our time together exploring Spring Green and the Dells. We are proud of the work you do to improve people’s lives. Looking forward to the next adventure.

Love you two!

The earlier in life one gains this kind of wisdom, the more complete and rewarding one’s life becomes. Great reminder to many, Sarah. As the saying goes, I won’t be laying on my death bed saying to myself, “Geez, I wish I had one more day to work.”
Take care…and thanks for sharing your wisdom…wisely.

Thanks John! I’m still working to not lost a grip on this wisdom.

This is one of the best posts I’ve read on this subject in a while, and it is such a great reminder of “when you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no to something else.” And it’s really important to understand what, exactly, are you saying yes/no to? I love this, and I just might have to use this in my people leaders meetings…. Thank you so much for sharing this journey!

This is a constant struggle for me and it is times like this that remind me what is really important. It’s too easy to get caught in obligations and to say yes to work all the time. I don’t know about you for me then my health, happiness and relationships suffer. Let’s keep supporting in this fight against yes 😉

Thanks for sharing! Loved this post. I try to remind myself as often as I can that I am living “the good ol’ days” right now.

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