Posted by: silverliningsblog | October 20, 2015

It’s OK to hit pause

IMG_2719Our world is very go-go-go. Do more, be more, want more, achieve more.

As a classic over-achiever myself, I easily fall prey to this mentality at times, ceaselessly producing and striving in order to…what was I trying to do again? Oh right, be more “successful” so I can be more happy.

And yet, I recently discovered something interesting. The harder I pushed to achieve my goals, the less happy I became. Hmm…isn’t the whole self-help movement premised on the idea of achieving more to get “ahead” and be happier?

Well last fall/winter, I definitely pushed too hard. And did a spectacular face plant. Literally. Into the pavement.

I was working full-time at my writing business, while working evenings and weekends on my coaching business, while juggling being a single mom and spending time with friends. A bit busy, but I thought I was on top of it.

Then life happened. I had a serious cycling accident and had to take time off work. My boyfriend and I broke up. My contract was cancelled and I had no income for three months. My mom died.

While I think I handled each of these events separately well, the cumulative stress pushed me over the edge. (It didn’t help that it was a long, cold winter that made getting outside difficult and caused many to feel the “winter blues.”) By March, a blood test showed my hormones (the ones critical to feeling good and being able to achieve things—adrenaline, cortisol, serotonin, dopamine, estrogen) were way too low. I was completely exhausted.

Something had to give.

So with a feeling of reluctance and sense of failure, I put my dream—my coaching business—on hold and got back to basics. I found a new writing contract and focused on paying my bills. I started getting outside every day to walk or run and meditate to get my health back on track. And in my spare time, I focused on the simple pleasures in life…snuggling with my kids to read a book, hanging out with my friends, listening to music, meditating by a stream.

586I also erased all my goals—my never-ending “to do” list—off my giant office white board and intentionally left it blank. Nothing I had to do any more. Only what I wanted to do.

And something surprising happened. Here I was, doing work that paid well but that I didn’t love, focusing only on the basics, not pursuing my long-term goals…and I felt happier. I felt relieved I didn’t have to try to do or be more. I could finally breathe and just take in all the good things already in my life, instead of focusing on creating more.

And I noticed that the things I valued most were actually those that did not cost any money (or cost very little).

Because of an unexpected turn in my life, I discovered that it’s ok to hit the pause button. While goals are good, we do not need to constantly pursue them. It’s OK to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life and just become an observer. See what is happening around you. Take a look at where you are, and how far you’ve already come. Enjoy the people and moments right in front of you while they’re still here. Just breathe…

We are, after all, human beings, not human doings.

After six months off, I’m now working on relaunching my coaching business, because it is still what I want to do with my life. It brings me a great sense of purpose and meaning, knowing I’m empowering other women to create a life they love. But I want to be sure I don’t forget the lesson I learned from being forced to regroup last spring. And that is to give myself (and those I coach) permission—as often as is needed—to hit pause, take a break, and enjoy the wonders of life.

Pause - editedWe don’t need to do something or achieve something more to prove our worth to the world. It isn’t through achieving that the world most benefits from us (and we most benefit from the world). It’s from simply being who we are, and giving the world (and ourselves) the gift of our true presence.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed, just hit pause. Give yourself permission to take a break and take a breath. Go for a walk. Sit in the sun. Snuggle with your kids or partner. Play hooky and take a day off. Stay in your PJs all day. Let your “to do” list go for a week (or two). Try it, and watch how much happier you feel.

If you liked this post, please share with others! And please share your thoughts and ideas below!

Karen Strang AllenKaren Strang Allen is an empowerment coach who helps women re-create themselves after a break-up or career change. She is the author of Free to be me: Create a life you love from the inside out! and international bestselling co-author of Unwavering Strength Volume 2. Karen helps her clients heal their hearts, re-discover their strengths and passions, and tap into their inner power to create amazing lives that inspire others. Learn more about Karen and check out her free empowering resources at

Ask for a free consult today!


  1. Love this post Karen. I did not have as traumatic an experience or combination of experiences that required time to reflect, but just felt overwhelmed. I have been enjoying just breathing for a couple of weeks and it is hard not to get pulled into the drive to be/do. But trying.

    • Thanks Karen. 🙂 And so glad you are taking the breather you need. We often forget that as women, but it’s so important to look after our health and well-being first. I hope you reconnect with your spirit and regain your balance in your life. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. […] It’s ok to hit pause (Karen Strang Allen) […]

  3. […] It’s ok to hit pause (Karen Strang Allen) […]

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