Sometimes the Best Way Forward is to Take a Step Back

We live in an always on world. We are conditioned to always be on the go, doing something, schedules packed, both personally and professionally. It has become the accepted status quo. That is something we should not settle for. Because it is problematic and often counterproductive. 

It is problematic because we often stick with that approach to life, work, or business no matter what, even when we would benefit from taking a different approach. 

It is counterproductive because there are many circumstances when that approach is actually detrimental to you, your progress, and your results. It can be damaging to what matters most to you. 

For example, when you are feeling overwhelmed, overbusy, exhausted, and need a break, sticking with the "keep pushing on" mentality negatively impacts, your health, well-being, and can lead to burnout. When you are experiencing challenges, navigating a transition or change, or have taken too much on, you often pressure yourself to just keep going, no matter what. 

But that is a mistake.

It is a mistake because when you are in the middle of a challenging situation, feeling overwhelmed and too busy,  or navigating a change or transition of some kind, it is difficult to find solutions and figure out the next steps in the busyness of the situation and also keep juggling all the ongoing day to day demands of your life, work, and business at the same time. 

You need time and space to think, reflect, ponder, figure things out, and take care of yourself. That is how you find solutions, solve problems, and make sure your health isn't being trashed.

Having time and space is where change starts. Change, clarity, goals, solutions, and, most importantly, you, don’t flourish in an environment of relentless busyness and feeling overwhelmed. You become less effective.   

In addition, when you are immersed in a challenging situation you often can’t see all the options and possibilities. You don’t have time and space to think things through to come to an optimal conclusion that will drive a well-informed way forward and action plan.

Just powering on regardless results in wandering without direction but thinking you are moving forward when you aren’t. You won’t get to where you want to be with this approach. At best it reduces progress to a snail’s pace. At worst, it can keep you stuck indefinitely. You can end up feeling like you are on a hamster wheel. Peddling hard in your life and work but never really truly moving forward or creating meaningful change to achieve what matters most to you.  

A simple but powerful way to deal with this is to take a step back.

Create time and space to allow creative thinking and to come up with strategic solutions and changes based on clarity around the outcome you want to create and the first steps to get on that path. Prositisie time for your health and well-being, because everything in your life, work, or business is dependent on that. Yet rarely is it treated as the number one priority. Big mistake. 

But that can be harder said than done. It can feel counter-intuitive. As our world glorifies busyness and pushing on no matter what, it can feel uncomfortable to fly in the face of that. But keep this in mind:

Sometimes the best way forward is to take a step back.

The key is to know in what situations you need to push on. And in what situations it would be more effective and beneficial to take a step back.

I can tell you from decades of personal experience and over 20 years of working with people who want to change something in their life or work, or just feel like they have had enough and need to put health and well-being first, having the courage to say "enough" and take a step back can lead to the clarity and solutions you seek. It can lead to transformations and breakthroughs. It can break the cycle of feeling stuck so you can emerge on the right path. And, without question, your health and wellbeing benefit. 

Taking a step back doesn’t mean retreating totally and it doesn’t have to be time consuming. It can be as simple as taking a weekend for yourself. If that is challenging even just a couple of hours a week or a small amount of time each day can be transformative too.

When people tell me “oh yes, stepping back would be a nice thing to do but I don’t have time to do that,” my answer is always the same, “you don’t have time NOT to do that. The results that matter most to you won’t come in the chaos of busyness, overwhelm, and exhaustion. They will come when you create a space for them to happen, to think something different, and to do something different.”

With that in mind, here are three questions to ask yourself:

  • What would you benefit from taking a step back from right now?
  • If you don’t, what are you risking?
  • What is stopping you from giving yourself permission to take a step back?

The bottom line:

Sometimes the best way forward is to take a step back. 

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