How to paddle less and pause more


Do you know the power of the intentional pause?

This is an important skill that I coach my paddling clients on a lot. Especially because it has unfortunately been drilled into so many people that good paddling means paddling harder and faster.

Great paddlers subtract strokes rather than add them. When you zoom out and look, subtraction is also a great strategy for tackling stress and overwhelm in life.

It’s so easy to keep adding things to your life, to your work and to your schedule. I do this too, and I end up stressed and overwhelmed.

Recently I’ve taken on the practice of looking to see where I can subtract things from my life, and take a pause. Here’s what I’ve discovered when I apply the powerful pause:

If you’re not having fun, take a break.

During Womens Paddlefest this year the topic of what to do when kayaking doesn’t feel fun anymore came up. The group attending my ‘coffee talk’ session was discussing strategies for facing fear on the river. One participant expressed that there are times when her fear is so great that she’s not having any fun.

Even things that are suppose to be fun, or that we experienced joy with in the past can lose their fun due to changing circumstances and overwhelm. That’s OK. If it’s truly not sparking joy then maybe it’s time to give that activity a break. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never experience joy doing that thing again, it just means that you may be saturated for the moment.

Just like the saying ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder,’ sometimes taking a break will re-ignite your spark for that activity. I’ve definitely taken breaks from kayaking and it’s felt great.

Have the courage to do less.

When I first started working with my business coach she challenged me to reduce the number of programs I offer in a year to 12 maximum. At the time that seemed crazy to me. My mindset was to try to offer as many programs as I could. The problem was that I’d get burnt out because there I was always facilitating a program, or one was coming up next week!

To be honest, I was fearful of offering fewer programs. I made the mistake of equating my value with my productivity, and that was a lose-lose for both me and my clients.

Now that I’ve paired down my offerings I have more energy, joy and value to give my clients.

Give up the story of disappointing others.

One of the biggest reasons I take on too much is my fear of disappointing people. Most of the time this fear is a product of a story in my mind, not actual reality.

This week I made the decision to give up an event that I’ve run in the past during Gauley River season. It’s an event that I’ve enjoyed in the past, but that is also stressful to organize. Participants love it, and my sponsors appreciate it to. When I called my main sponsor to let them know that I wasn’t going to take it on anymore I was expecting them to be really disappointed. Instead, they completely understood, and offered to put allocated resources towards a different event or non-profit.

I realized after that conversation that I had convinced myself that I had to run that event because people were counting on me. The only limit was me. I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders, and if folks really want that event to happen, someone else can take it on.

If you feel overwhelmed and over-committed it’s probably time that find the courage to stop adding to your life and start subtracting. Trust the pause.

Do you want to learn to pause more on and off the water? I invite you to spend a day of private instruction with me for mindset and skills coaching. Click here to learn more.