Count it down to a break

Photo courtesy of Jeanette Goodrich (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Jeanette Goodrich (Creative Commons)

Four more, and three, and two, last one!

When I taught aerobics, it was always important to count down for the class, especially when it was a tough repetition, to encourage them and let them know they were almost through. I always tried to tell them “great job” too, to reinforce the hard work they were putting in.

I find myself doing that internally on a run, especially a long one, where I’m telling myself, “only 5 more miles” or even better, “last mile, homestretch now.” It spurs me to speed up and keep going because I know I’m almost finished.

If you think the work is going to last forever, and you can’t see the end, it makes it hard to continue pushing at that same level. You don’t want to expend all your energy reserves, or burn out too quickly, so it is natural to hold back. Knowing you are almost finished gives you permission to push harder to finish.

And breaks are good things, not something to be avoided. One of my three focus words for the year is PAUSE (read more here) and it has been one of the most influential words so far.

So let me ask, do you count down for your team? Or for yourself when you are working on a lengthy or difficult project?

Whether I am running, lifting weights, working on a project, or cranking out work, I function so much better when I preset time to stop and take a break or pause. It could be as simple as the break between sets at the gym, or setting a timer and stopping for a few minutes after working steadily for an hour.

Reminding your team that a break is coming lets them know you recognize the effort they are putting in, and you will reward them when they get to that stopping point, even if that’s just a pat on the back and a “good job.”

So how will you count down for yourself and your team?