You are sitting in a meeting and the discussion seems to be going in circles with little or nothing being accomplished as the minutes tick by; you are having a conversation by e-mail, on the phone or in person and you realize that it is either going nowhere or getting increasingly tense, terse and time-consuming; you are feeling disinterested, disengaged, discouraged and disappointed in where you are, what you are doing or with whom who are doing it. You know that someone or something needs to change sooner rather than later. You are the only one who can make any changes. It would be easy to just get up and walk out of the meeting; rudely and abruptly end the conversation or give up on the person or situation that is causing your disinterest, disengagement, discouragement and disappointment. Before you do something that you may regret, you may want to set aside time in your extremely busy personal or professional schedule to take or make a break.
When you take a break, it is temporary as there is a time limit determined and decided by you. It signals to others that you are not totally severing a connection or completely backing away from a commitment. A break can mean one-two minutes to breathe, calm down and regain your focus and balance; thirty-sixty minutes to go into a quiet space in your home or office or to go outside, get some fresh air, create some space, do some focused thinking and gain some much-needed perspective so you can decide on the best course of action going forward. These timeframes are suggested guidelines and you may need more or less time depending on the person or situation. It may be that the person or situation requires that you take a much longer break than a few hours, say a few days, a few weeks or, in some cases, a few months.
When you first take a break, you may have positive feelings like joy, relief and happiness or negative feelings like fear, anger and anxiety. Be honest, focused and respectful of your feelings and why you are feeling them. Allow yourself whatever time that you need to decide whether what you are feeling is temporary or permanent. You may also feel that there is a small, significant gap or large, looming space in your work or life and that you need to do something quickly to fill it. Learn to adjust to the empty space for the duration of the break. Be comfortable with not knowing what to do or with what will happen next. Remember you are merely taking a break. You will know when you have had enough of taking a break when you start feeling restless or you have made the decision to either eagerly, energetically and enthusiastically reconnect or recommit to the person or situation or to take the next step which is to make a final and complete break.
When you make a break, it is permanent. After spending some time thinking, reflecting, weighing some options, considering the consequences and even taking a brief or lengthy break, you have decided to totally sever a connection or completely back away from a commitment. You may be making a break from a toxic or negative person or situation. People and situations are constantly changing so what worked well for you in the past may no longer be working well now and will not work well in the future. When you make a final break, you will feel a sense of loss and it is important to experience the four stages of mourning the loss before you can move on. Avoid getting trapped in a blame game for why you felt it was necessary to make the break. Instead, be grateful for the lessons learned and the knowledge and experience gained.
There will be many times in your life, career and business when it’s time to take and/or make a break. If you embrace rather than avoid these times, you will find that you will be more positive and prepared for the opportunities that will undoubtedly follow.