FOCUS: Stopping and Starting

DISCIPLINES: Mental Models, Personal Mastery

In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.
—Leo Tolstoy


I yearn to be a better procrastinator. My goal for 2009 is to stop more. Once I get going, it is hard for me to stop. I just keep moving. If there are things calling to be done, I do them until I’m ready to drop dead. I have to practically sit on myself to meditate. And yet, when I do, it makes me so happy. When I stop to visit with a friend, draw or take pictures, I am infinitely happier than I was before. But the pull to do what’s on my list, to take care of everything in my environment (husband, cat, plants, outside birds, clothes, mail, stuff) is very strong.

One of the dangers of constant busyness without stopping is that I may get on some path and keep moving, even when it doesn’t go where I want to go.

I learned recently of St. Norbert’s College, a school in Wisconsin where every month everyone and everything stops for an hour of reflection. What a wonderful gift! Time for a course correction, if needed. Time to renew energy.

One reason I think coaching works is that it requires people to stop and reflect on what they’re doing and feeling, where they’re going. When I am coached, it’s as if I come back to myself, rest my very bones, and in the process get perspective, energy and room for new ideas.

I know people who are just the opposite from me. They have trouble getting started. Or they start, but quit easily. These people tend to be mad at themselves a lot. They want to do things but don’t know how to start. When they do get started, they are easily discouraged when difficulties arise, or they get overwhelmed and stop.

It is hard to nurture strong relationships if we never stop or if we stay stopped. Living our values – things like kindness, health, honesty – is also difficult if we never stop (or start.)

So what’s the middle ground? And how do we get there? I don’t really know the answer, but this year I’m going to try a different approach, instead of trying to force myself into new habits. Instead I commit to two things:

  • Focus on the relationships in my life. Each day I will reflect on how well I’m living the relationships I care about.
  • Focus on the values I hold dear. Each day I will reflect on how well I’m living those.

It is my hope that by putting the focus on what really matters to me – people and values – I’ll stop more.


  1. Are you someone who has trouble stopping or has trouble starting? Maybe a first step is to become aware of our own tendencies. Maybe we can be both – in different areas of our life.

  2. What trouble does your not stopping/starting cause the people in your life?

  3. How does your not stopping/starting keep you from living your values?

  4. What happens to stopping and starting when you experiment with focusing on important people or values in your life for a full day, or a week?


  • Please join me for a 45-minute telegathering to explore stopping and starting. Call Tuesday, January 27, at noon Eastern (11:00 a.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. MT, 9:00 a.m. Pacific) 1-623-218-1094 PIN 968#. No need to register…just call at that time!

Read an excerpt from Liberating Greatness, the Whole Brain Guide to an Extraordinary Life, the book Hal and I wrote, at

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

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