Color of Money: Take time to harness the power of the pause

Michelle Singletary on

"Pausing isn't tied to any amount of time," O'Meara writes. "It's about the quality of how that time is spent. I define a pause as any intentional shift in behavior that allows you space to experience a mental shift in attitude, thoughts, or emotions that otherwise wouldn't have occurred."

As someone who is always on speed dial, I could get what O'Meara was saying. I also see how this concept is needed in personal finance. I sit down with a lot of people to help them get out of debt, make a budget or develop a plan to save. They often believe their problems are rooted in not making enough money. That's not what I see. It's not always a lack of money that causes financial stress. They're off-balanced. They haven't spent any meaningful time creating a workable plan for their life or their money.

So, is it your time for a pause?

O'Meara says there are at least five signs that you need a break.

-- You loathe the job you once loved.

-- Your manager is complaining about your performance.

-- You spend too much time with technology. Not being plugged in makes you panic. Think about it: How often does someone close to you complain about your inability to put your smartphone down?

-- You've been hit with a major change -- good or bad.

-- You're faced with a new opportunity. You could get laid off but it might be an opening for you to set up a new business.

If you're going to pause for five minutes, a few hours or months, you'll need a strategy. O'Meara provides a wealth of tips and resources, including how to budget for a break. At, click the link for the "Don't Break the Bank" worksheet.

I recently fell and badly sprained my right ankle. The pain lasted for days, and I was forced to pause. O'Meara is right. My brief respite helped me realize how overscheduled I was, and how hard it was to be still.

Let me leave you with a question from O'Meara: Without the awareness gained from pausing, how do you know how you feel, what matters, or what aligns?

I'm hosting an online discussion about "Pause" at noon Eastern time on Aug. 31 at O'Meara will join me to take your questions. Take a break and join us.


Readers can write to Michelle Singletary c/o The Washington Post, 1301 K St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071. Her email address is Follow her on Twitter (@SingletaryM) or Facebook ( Comments and questions are welcome, but due to the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group



blog comments powered by Disqus

Social Connections


The Other Coast Mike Lester Dilbert Family Circus Candorville Barney & Clyde