The ‘Pause, Cancel & Resume’ Strategy on Life

by Gilbert Ross


From start I have to be honest by telling you that this post will describe nothing new – nothing you do not already know deep down. From my own observation I can say that most personal growth books and articles convey nothing profoundly new in reality. What they do successfully offer however is a fresh reminder of those juicy bits of practical wisdom that tend to make our lives better yet have the habit of continuously forgetting (Yes we need constant reminders let’s face it! ).

This post is just that. It’s a reminder of something you very probably know but I have colored it differently – hopefully in a way that appeals more to your sense of aesthetic and stick more to your memory.

It’s about a different approach I’ve been experimenting with lately I call the ‘pause, cancel and resume’ method. In short it’s about learning how to stop from the frenetic and constant doing, discarding what’s not vital to your life’s purpose and resume with a lighter and brighter schedule.

I have only started this approach recently but the effects have already been extremely positive and revitalizing. Let’s have a quick look.


Pausing: Life can be frenetic (I told you I’m not going to say anything new ;) ). As Elbert Hubbard put it “Life is just one damned thing after another”. In fact I recently realized that I haven’t stopped for one weekend or one day from beginning of summer. I wasn’t pausing and what’s worse I wasn’t getting away from it all to get a better view and understanding of it.

I then decided to pause. Not in the sense of getting a break from my schedule. No. It was more of a mental pause. It was like shutting down all the mental to-do lists, the what-if scenarios, the constant pressing background thoughts such as “if I don’t get this right asap I will have to pay for it two months down the line” and all that crap.

I’m not sure which were the exact buttons I pushed to get there but apart from awareness and my regular meditation sessions I think the biggest factor was telling (or rather commanding) myself to pause. Simple. I just allowed myself to do it with no ifs and buts. I know it sounds obvious but as I said personal growth is obvious. It’s just that we keep forgetting the obvious.


Cancelling: In the pause state I started having a few but powerful realizations. The biggest one being that life goes on just the same (actually much smoother) without the frenetic doing and thinking. I wasn’t holding the earth but just myself. When I let go, the earth did not drop on my head.

These liberating thoughts allowed me to rethink a few things. What if I could cancel off a few things here and there from my routine? Say trying to solve a longstanding problem or a particular task you have been working on for a long time but got you nowhere.

I had a couple and I let them go. The earth did not shatter. The problem was that I was putting too much false weight on them. I thought that if they are not addressed my life will be stuck in a rut.

Cancelling them has freed up my mind and time and gave me more space to focus on the issues that matter most. I am still experimenting with it and to be honest I found a new sense of fun vanquishing old spectres.


Resuming: At which point should I undo the pause button and resume attending to plans, schedule, worries and all? Well the short answer is never…in the sense of never to go back to the original point of departure.

After canceling and parting away with some of the mental clutter and routine tasks, day to day life can resume with more lightness and less struggle and effort. This pausing, canceling and resuming is a continuous thing. I might get back to some projects I have canceled if I REALLY need to but not for the time being.

For now I am enjoying this new found joy of simplifying my life. Admittedly I am still at the beginning of it all and still experimenting with a few knobs here and there. But overall I think that the method is working magic.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

johnie from lucid dreaming July 12, 2012 at 5:10 am

Not everyday I get to remind myself to do this. But being reminded of the little things ain’t bad.

Cheers to you Gilbert!

KenWert@MeanttobeHappy November 6, 2011 at 4:08 am

Great tips for living a more enjoyable life, Gilbert: pause — relax, renew, refresh, re-energize. All such important parts of living up to our potential. Cancel — reduce, eliminate, delegate, simplify. All such great ways to become less stressed, less attached to the unimportant, less distracted, more productive, more peaceful, more joyful. Resume — Get going again with renewed effort, more energy and focus and resolve.

Great post, Gilbert. Thanks for the share!
KenWert@MeanttobeHappy´s last [type] ..Metaphors of the Mind: How to Change Your Thoughts and Have Fun Doing It!

Tim October 25, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Wise words indeed and I know exactly what you mean. My life just seems to get busier and busier, with never enough hours in the day, resulting to my thoughts being all over the place. I too have to lean to pause, cancel and resume to re-balance and refocus my life. The irony is when I have been most “busy”, I often struggle to identify the things I have achieved. Too many little inconsequential bits of day to day nonsense, leaving no room for the big goals in home and work.

Great blog

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