Recently, I had a morning that got on like the start of a country song. I stayed up too late the night before, got up late in the morning, misplaced things I just had in my hands, and lost twenty minutes in a social-media-and-news clickhole when I was getting my laptop hooked up to my monitor for the day’s work. In the middle of meditation, I heard Slack pinging in my office because I opened it while I was in the clickhole, and, after a couple of pings, I had to pause my meditation and go turn it off.

The remainder of my meditation had the calmness of a Jack Russell terrier waiting on the mail carrier. Since I had already lost two hours to oversleeping and another 45 minutes to that chop suey, I had resigned myself to the fact that it was going to be one of those days, and to just get to work.

But somewhere in the last four minutes of my 20-minute meditation, I slid into a moment of “grip,” which is the best word I have for that moment when equanimity, perspective, gratitude, and grace hits during meditation or contemplation. “Pause before push” came from deep within and resounded in my being, and I know in that moment that the last thing I should do is just suit up and brace for the grind. (“Pause before push” is a habituated resilience practice I have that triggers when I feel myself getting locked and loaded for a slog.)

In that pause, I visualized how the day would go if I did just roll into the day. I’d be scattered, find myself in another clickhole or eight, show up for my meetings unprepared, and be frustrated at the end of the day. Playing the day out like that makes it so much easier to give myself permission to carve out another 30 minutes to re-center and create a different reality. The choice becomes clear: spend 30 minutes transforming from the Jack Russell terrier, or spend all day gasping and grasping.

Jason Mraz’s 3 Things (today’s song rec) ran through my head and I started my ” three little things” process for getting grounded:

  1. Give myself permission to make a recovery block to center without shame, frustration, or self-punishment.
  2. Go with whatever meditative or grounding process most calls to me. In this particular moment, it was writing this anchor, but that process can vary between meditation (sometimes re-starting meditation), walking around the neighborhood, stretching and/or calisthenics, listening to music or playing the guitar, taking a shower, drinking water and/or eating a small meal, or reading. It always includes getting away from smartphones and computers, though.
  3. Decide on the day’s intention and what three wins I want to create for the day. The day’s intention may be “move with purpose,” “be a lighthouse,” “trust that everything will be okay,” or “earn some courage points.” The three wins typically look like: completing a chunk of a project, having a great meeting, sending a particularly important email. It’s an almost daily practice to remind myself that showing up powerfully for meetings means that I may need to count each meeting as one of those wins; so on days where I have three meetings, rocking those three meetings may be “enough” and everything else I get done is just bonus points.

Those three little things almost always do the trick of converting the projected “lost” day, morning, or afternoon into a day, morning, or afternoon that I can flow into and create some joy, momentum, and love. More than what happens for the rest of the day, though, is this: as soon as I’m done with centering, I feel like I’ve already won the day.

There’s nothing about the process above that’s rocket science, but the two challenges are: 1. over-riding or not hearing “pause before push,” and then 2. giving myself permission to make the space. As I’ve helped clients create their own centering processes, they’ve told me that these are their biggest challenges, too.

Since it’s hard to catch yourself before Jack Russell time, next time you notice yourself in it, try my “three little things” if you don’t already have your own way of getting the day and yourself back on track. Remember, you’re only giving up a few emails or lost moments in a news-and-social-media clickhole, but what you gain will be incomparably more valuable.

Originally published at


  • Charlie Gilkey

    Author, Speaker, Business Strategist, Coach

    Charlie Gilkey helps people start finish the stuff that matters. He's the founder of Productive Flourishing, author of the forthcoming Start Finishing and The Small Business Lifecycle, and host of the Productive Flourishing podcast. Prior to starting Productive Flourishing, Charlie was a Joint Force Military Logistics Coordinator while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in Philosophy. He lives with his wife, Angela, in Portland, Oregon.