It’s the 3rd quarter and things are getting heated. It’s been a back and forth battle the entire game. We have a game plan, but the girls seem to have forgotten it. They have started making bad passes and committing silly fouls. Now our center is yelling at the point guard about a missed opportunity. I signal to the ref; timeout! I gather the girls together as they get water and take a breather. I remind them about our game plan. I remind them we have been in close games before. I give them instructions moving forward and I send them back into the game.
It makes total sense in a basketball game like that to take a timeout. It’s a strategy. We have lost momentum. The team needs a breather. They need to be reminded who they are and what they are doing. They need instructions moving forward.
Unfortunately, many times in life we have trouble relating this concept. There have been many times in my own life where I can feel myself spiraling. I can feel control being lost; my control of myself. It’s not often just one thing, it’s usually a cascading effect of multiple things. The middle schooler comes home with a bad report card, then the 3rd grader needs help with her homework, the baby wakes up early from his nap and then my husband asks what’s for dinner and I lose it. I find out that the project at work needs to be done earlier than I thought, oh and they are assigning some of my team members to another project starting tomorrow. Are you kidding?
We react. We take it out on whoever is nearby; family, coworkers, friends. What if there was a better way? Is it possible when that straw falls and the camel starts to go down, to take a personal timeout? Hand off the baby and walk into your room. Take a deep breath and excuse yourself to the restroom or your office. Regroup. Refocus. Rally.
In basketball you get your choice of a 30 second or a full (60 second) timeout. Thirty seconds goes by pretty quick, which is fine if we only need to make minor adjustments. For something more involved, I’m taking the full timeout, gathering my team at the bench and having a heart to heart.
Sometimes in life a quick trip to the restroom isn’t going to cut it. You need time and space to process and get back on track. Don’t be afraid to put it on your calendar. Take a half-day off from work. Ask your husband to take the kids out for the afternoon so you can have the house to yourself. Maybe you need even longer and want to get away for a few days to rest and recoup. Don’t be afraid to do what you need to do!
Timeouts are important. They shift momentum. They allow us to breath. They remind us of our priorities and what our game plan is. Sometimes we use them to create a new plan on the fly. They are valuable. They are needed.
If you can feel your game of life starting to slide, don’t make excuses, take the timeout! Then get back in the game!