What to do ‘in the pause’? (An introduction to re-imagining)

I am not sure if you feel it too – but many people I have spoken to recently do?


It seems as if someone has pressed a Big Pause Button. A Big Pause over the economy. A Big Pause over business. A Big Pause over development and progress. In many ways there is ‘so much happening’; the world is so full of news! But, in another way there seems to be ‘so little’ happening – hence the feeling that there is A Big Pause. The biggest challenge for many of us is that the spaces where ‘so little’ is happening are often the areas that we feel it most – in our businesses and in our communities. We feel the Big Pause where it matters most – where it affects us most!


So what do we do ‘in the Big Pause’? How can we ‘use’ the Big Pause for our advantage?


I believe that the pause is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to take stock, an opportunity to think ahead, an opportunity to re-align, an opportunity to review and an opportunity to renew – I like to call this whole process, this opportunity ‘Re-imagining’.


This is what (I think) ‘Re-imagining’ looks like – and also how we can make the Big Pause a productive time.


Re-imagining – the opportunity in the pause

Firstly we must make some space and take the time to re-imagine – it does not just happen. I like to consider this time and space an investment into the future – because the future is really what re-imagining is all about.


(We also need to decide whether we are going to re-imagine on our own or together with our team. We can do both – and also inter-weave our personal re-imagining with our team re-imagining. I am going to focus here on a framework for personal re-imagining – you can simply rephrase the questions with a team or group in mind – and then possibly combine the 2.)


To prepare for this time and space it is good to start with a couple of questions – we do this to ‘place’ or ‘position’ ourselves (to better see ourselves in the present)

  1. Where am I? Where do I find myself?
    1. What path have I taken to get here?
    2. What is my current situation and circumstance?
    3. How am I we positioned in my network of relationships?
  2. What do I have to give?
    1. In my person – who am I?
    2. My knowledge – what do I know?
    3. My skill-set – what can I do?


Once we have prepared ourselves by working through these ‘placement or positioning’ questions and have a better idea of where we are, and who we are in the present – we can take a journey to the future. This is a journey we take in our minds by using one of our most powerful, but underused, facilities, our imagination.


This takes some time – I suggest investing at least half a day (4 to 5 hours) working through the following (a team should invest at least a day).


Re-imagining Framework

(This is the sketch or overview of a continually growing and developing body of thinking) 


Part 1: Destination

Pick a date at least 3 years and not more than 5 years into the future – be specific, for example 4 September 2023 (5 years from the date of writing this blog).


What am I pretty certain about? Start with the ‘objective facts’. Questions are always asked and answered in the present tense because in our minds and using our imaginations we are ‘visiting this date in the future’

  • How old am I?
  • How old is my spouse/partner?
  • How old are my children? What are they doing? (If they are in school or university we can calculate there grades/years of study)
  • Where do I live? (same place or different)
  • Identify any other ‘objective facts’ about this date that can be pinned down


What am I hoping for?

  • What would I like to be doing with my time? (how would I like it to be structured/used/allocated?) 
  • What would I like to know?
  • How do I want to feel about my life?


What is the picture I have of the future at this point in time?

  • Describe this in as much detail as possible. It is important to ‘see’ this as clearly as possible.


It is often a good idea to share this picture with someone else, someone you can trust, who can help you to refine it and see it clearer.


Part 2: Transition Space

Looking at the ‘space’ or gap between Present and the Destination examine and unpack

  • Expectations – what am I expecting to happen in this gap?
  • Assumptions – what am I assuming about things in the gap?
  • Accelerators – what is ‘moving things forward’ in the gap?
  • Inhibitors – what is ‘holding things back’ in the gap?


These questions are designed to help identify the various forces at work in the time that lies ahead. It could be useful to think of this like a river with various changing currents at play, with a variety of rocks and obstacle creating patches of whitewater, rapids interspersed with quieter pools.


Part 3: Thresholds

A threshold is defined as ‘an entrance’, ‘a doorway’ or ‘a boundary’ beyond which change is expected or triggered. It is a limit or level beyond which something changes – a transition occurs.


Having examined the present, the future and the transition space/gap between we next need to ask ourselves;

  • what are the thresholds between now and then?
  • What do we need to ‘enter’ – and by definition ‘exit’?
  • What ‘doorways’ do we need to go through to get ‘into’ the new space in the future?
  • What ‘boundaries’ exist that we need to go beyond, in order to redefine or redraw?


List these thresholds – and describe them in some detail so they are clear and recognisable.

Order them – which ones seem to be the first ones you need to go over/ pass through/cross, and which then follow?


Focus on the first one/ones – there should not be more than a handful (2 to 5). These initial thresholds should be things that lie ahead in the next 3 to 6 months.


For each of these initial thresholds think about 

  • What is the path ”TO’ this threshold? (what does this look like, how do I fully prepare for it – this also helps to identify when I anticipate this threshold to be reached, and help me to recognise it when it appears in view)
  • What is required to go ‘THROUGH’ this threshold? (what do I think I will need to go through in transitioning through it, will I need help, how long should it take, how do I create a space for this transition to unfold/take place)
  • What is the route ‘FROM’ this threshold? (what things will I need to let go of in order to lay hold of the new)


Think about these three dimensions of TO, THROUGH, and FROM from as many perspectives as possible. The idea here is to have as clear a map of the territory as possible in mind – the clearer, the better and the easier to travel along.


Again this is a good time to bounce the list of thresholds off someone else – again with the purpose of seeing these as clearly as possible.


Part 4: Accountability

If you have gone through this re-imagining process on your own it is essential to create some form of accountability. There are certainly times that we do face things alone – but more often than not success is found together with others. 


Accountability comes firstly from committing to a set of actions and a timeline – that should emerge from Stages 1 to 3 of the re-imagining journey. These actions and timelines should look forward into the next 3 to 6 months 


This accountability may be finding someone who can

  • Help me to re-examine some of the expectations and assumptions – and possibly see them better/clearer
  • Ask how it is going at critical times – and hold me accountable to stay on the path to, through and from each threshold?
  • Help me to identify the timing and process for the thresholds I face?
  • Celebrate each stage and step into the future.
  • Remind me to re-re-imagine! Once I am through a few thresholds I do always still need to both celebrate where I am and also look ahead to see the new and the fresh from the ‘other side’ of the threshold.


Last thoughts

So in the pause – right now – there is always an opportunity to review – re-imagine and re-new.


I invite you to work through the above – I would love your feedback so that I can refine this and keep it fresh (and constantly re-imagined).


If you would like help in your own personal re-imagining journey, or team re-imagining journey please don’t hesitate to contact me.


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