What’s the age when you look at a child and suddenly see his future self as much as you see his past self?
I think it might be eight, because lately when I really look at my oldest, I see him as a teenager almost as much as I see him as the child I’ve known for the last eight years.
Sometimes that face—that mixture of boyish and mature—almost knocks the wind out of me.
I’m sure every mother has thought it at one point: Where can I hit the pause button? Please let me slow down the passing of days.
It’s not just motherhood that inspires this in me. It’s the changing of the seasons, the new wrinkles around my eyes(!), a friend moving away…
Change of any kind reminds us to savor where we’re at, while we’re still here.
That Sounds Nice, But…
But most of the time, life hums along as it always does, and I, for one, need some kind of strategy—a formula, almost—to help me stop living for the future and start experiencing the moment I’m in.
I recently got to speak at a local women’s conference, and for weeks before the event, I turned this topic over and over in my mind, reflecting on the biggest differences between my life now and my life seven years ago, before I started consciously slowing down.
I eventually narrowed it down to five things that I think have made the biggest impact. Five things that—if I weren’t doing them—would make my life look significantly different.
Five things that almost let me press pause.
5 Ways to Press the Pause Button on Your Life (The Formula I Swear By)
1. Know Yourself & Live By Your Values
What are your deepest intentions, your core values—What do you prioritize over everything else?
The first and most foundational step to a slower lifestyle is knowing who you are and what makes you tick. When you know what’s at your core, it’s so much easier to let the extras fall to the side.
If you’ve been around The Life On Purpose Movement for long, you know I never STOP talking about this, so I won’t belabor the point. But if you’re new, try starting here—
2. Stop Being a Stuff Manager
Could life as a “stuff manager” be keeping you from really being there with your people?
Clutter has been linked to emotional heaviness and depression. But more than anything, it’s really just one more thing to spend time on.
When my husband and I were newlyweds, we packed up only what we could fit into our Toyota Corolla and drove halfway across the country for his grad degree. For a year, that’s all we lived with. And anything we bought, we knew we’d have to either leave it behind or figure out how to pack it in the car when it was time to drive back home.
I noticed in that relatively bare apartment how little time I spent on stuff. There was less to clean, little to organize, and nowhere for stuff to hide. It was amazing.
I’ve never forgotten that feeling, and even though we have three kids now (collectors of party favors and other such valuables—ha!), we try our best to keep the stuff to a minimum.
Fewer toys… clearer floors.
Smaller wardrobes… less laundry.
Fewer trips to the store… fewer possessions to store and care for.
What we exchange in belongings we get back in time.
PS. I can’t help but recommend The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up if STUFF is your downfall.
3. Open Yourself to Beauty & Adventure
I distinctly remember the first time my young family (new to California) hit the beach right at Golden Hour. I’d been in a stressful, heavy season but felt absolutely cracked open by the beauty of the sun setting into the ocean, casting a golden glow onto my beautiful children.
It’s almost impossible to be anywhere BUT the moment when you’re taking in something beautiful.
4. Adopt a Noticing Practice
At the end of each day, can you take even one minute to mentally run back over your day and bring into focus a few small, easy-to-miss moments that meant something to you?
Think of it as a gratitude practice—but more specific, more focused. From the smile you heard in your mom’s voice to the sound of your spouse pulling in the trash bins.
Jot them down in a journal, put a voice to them when you pray, or post a photo on Instagram. Do it regularly and this will becoming your noticing practice.
I use my husband as my sounding board / accountability partner when I’m actively practicing this. He says I’m always happier—and I would add, more present—when I am.
5. Fill Your Own Cup
A few years ago I was in a stage you’ve probably been in. I was working from home, raising to little kids, and running the household while my husband clocked what felt like a million hours at the office. I took care of everyone at the expense of taking care of myself. I thought my stage of life demanded it.
Over time I’ve learned that an attitude of compassion toward ourselves helps us operate from a place of fullness, rather than running on empty.
“Self-care means giving the world the best of you instead of what is left of you.” Katie Reed
When I get that nagging, uncomfortable feeling that something is off in my life, I can almost always trace it back to one of these five things lacking. Once I add it back in, I find that things start clicking into place again. I hope you find the same.
After all, if you can’t literally press pause, you might as well at least get close. 😉
If you have one more minute, I’d love to hear in the comments which number you are best at and which one you struggle with most! (I’m going to go with 1 as my best and 4 as my worst…) Let us know!