Rest, don’t quit. Pause, don’t stop.
Slowing down is okay and it doesn’t mean you’re stopping.
This article is cross-posted from my weekly newsletter, The Sunday Soother, a newsletter about clarity, intention, and useful tips for creating more meaning in your life that goes out every Sunday morning. Subscribe here. I am also a coach who works with sensitive people so they can stop second-guessing, make decisions confidently and live the life they’ve always dreamed of. You can learn more about working with me here.
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Happy Sunday, Soothers. As we wind down 2021 and simultaneously ramp up for 2022, perhaps for you, like for me, time is feeling a bit bendy, both rushed and slow, full and quiet.
It’s also a time when many of us are reviewing the past year, the highs and lows, and perhaps beginning to map out goals or ways of being or ideals we want to bring into 2022.
One of the biggest questions I see my clients grapple with around goals, markers of time, and perhaps not being where they wanted to be, is if they should quit something. If they should stop. If they should give up all together on a dream or a way of being. When it’s time to put the dream down.
I wanted today to offer briefly some different ways of thinking about keeping going vs. quitting. Sometimes, yes, it’s time to quit the thing, to either abandon it all together or tuck it away in a part of your heart only to revisit it down the road at a better time. Only you can know if that’s true for you.
But I think sometimes the binary thinking around starting and stopping is yet another manifestations of our culture’s black and white tendencies, of all or nothing, of no room for subtleties or shades of gray or the in between.
It certainly is reflective of the fact that we live in a culture that has no awareness (or perhaps, no respect of, or interest in, is the better way to put it) of the cyclical seasonalities of life. If you’re not quitting, you’re going full bore. And if you’re going full bore, it’s all in, and anything less than full bore is basically quitting.
I’d like to offer you today some different ways of thinking about stopping or quitting. Tune into these and see if they fit where you are in your cycle of life right now.
- Are you resting, or are you quitting? Are you pausing, or are you stopping? This quote is attributed to Banksy: “If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit.” Projects, goals, endeavors, ideas — they all take time. It is not quitting to rest for a while on your path there. Since we’re a society that’s so conditioned to feel shame about the idea of rest, I think sometimes our brain just defaults to that we should totally quit and stop. What if you were to practice resting on your journey? Being in the pause? Beginning to know that a short (or long) rest is not the same as the journey being completely called off?
- Think about your “dial.” I work with many clients on dating, and the all or nothing, go all in on dating or totally quit and take a hiatus approach shows up a lot in this arena. Either clients are amped and on the apps hours per day and going on multiple dates a week, or they’re so burned out they delete all the apps and feel they need a months-long break from dating. When this topic comes up, I offer them the dial metaphor. Imagine there’s a scale of dating activities from 1–10 (or replace dating with anything else in your life). If a 10 is being on the apps daily, messaging people, asking friends to set you up, going on multiple dates a week, and a 1 is you’re making zero effort towards dating at all, where are you currently on that dial? And if you’re up too high, where would you like to be? Maybe you don’t want to stop dating, but you need to move your dial down to a 3. Define what a 3 is for you, then rest in that new way of being. You’ll know when you feel ready to move up to a 5 or a 7 on the dial, and remember, if you begin to get tired, you can always just turn down the dial instead of quitting all together.
- Identify what season you are in, and what this season is asking of you. There are a few ways to do this; you can simply intuitively align yourself with a season of nature like winter or spring; you can do an exercise of writing down all the ways in which your body feels, your emotions feels, the challenges you’re experiencing and the things you’re feeling drawn to, and name the season with a word that aligns to those elements. If you find yourself in a planting season, you would know you need patience, repetition, nurturing, time to grow. If you’re in a Spring season, everything might feel like it’s blooming and you’re bursting with energy.
- And always remember this: It is better to go slowly, with rest, taking your time, in the right direction, than quickly in the wrong direction.
Be willing, wherever you are right now, to give yourself permission to tune into the gentleness of this season in whatever way you’re able. To rest, to pause, to turn the dial down if you need to.
You’re a human. You’re cyclical, too. You are not meant to burn forever hot and fast like a rocket shooting into the sky. You’re mean to shed, and rest, and go underground, and nourish, and push through the soil, and peek to the sky, and bloom, only to do it all over again, and again, and again.
Rest. Pause. Adjust. Repeat. Since we’re cyclical beings, always returning to the beginning anyways, we can then begin anew in any way we wish.