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If You Want to Go Places in Your Career, Be Still


It’s frustrating to have people remind you to “stop and smell the roses” when your life seems to be going 1,000 miles per hour — but that doesn’t mean it’s bad advice. Learn how taking a step back can actually help you move forward in your life and your career.

how to practice stillness in your life

(Photo Credit: Rrebekahh97/

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and everyone’s trying to make it to the top of their careers. What ends up happening is, professionals work tirelessly to pave successful career paths, only to work themselves into the ground and, eventually, crash and burn. Before they know it, they are so over their jobs and so burnt out that they end up giving up hope for their (once) promising future. Sound familiar?

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If you can relate to that scenario, then don’t worry — there’s a pill for that. Just joking. (Well, sort of.) As it turns out, one of the keys to getting your career moving and a-grooving is to incorporate stillness in your life. One book aims to teach individuals just that.

As part of 12-title series published by TED Books and Simon & Schuster, The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere, by esteemed travel writer Pico Iyer, takes readers on a journey to nowhere, literally. In Iyer’s 2014 TED Talk, he eloquently reminds us, “In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing could feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.”

Take, for example, the “internet sabbath” that is practiced by many Silicon Valley executives and employees. During this hiatus from the digital world, all forms of technology are eliminated for 24 to 48 hours “in order to gather the sense of direction and proportion they’ll need when they go online again,” according Iyer’s TED Talk. There is an endless number of technologies that promise to help us save time, organize better, be more productive, and do more — but, do they really? Instead, as Iyer suggests, why not simply unplug completely from the world, take a step back, and gain a better perspective of the big picture; the vast cluttered canvas that is your life and your future?

If you’re looking for ways to stop and smell the roses, try out these three simple practices to quiet the noise and bring stillness in your life.

1. Listen to calming music at night, rather than scrolling through your emails or news feeds in bed, Iyer suggests.

2. Spend one hour during each day to unplug completely from technology to sit with a good book, journal, or meditate — just be still, whatever you choose.

3. Start a gratitude journal to encourage you to reflect on the things that matter in life.

Good luck in your journey to nowhere.

Tell Us What You Think

What methods have you found effective for practicing stillness in you life? Share your pearls of wisdom with our community on Twitter.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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