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Permission to Pause is a career column written for Drexel alumni by Naketa Thigpen '00. Naketa is President and Co-owner of Thigpen's Professionals, LLC, a life management and professional development services company.

Alumni are encouraged to send comments, questions or suggestions for future column topics to

The Justification is Over
September 2014

Every day is unpredictable. No one can deny that. Does knowing that give you license to refrain from making plans to get up in the morning, pull back the sheets and prepare for work? Does the lack of certainty in waking up in the morning shine an exit sign on your responsibilities as a parent, lover, spouse, caretaker or the like? If not, then why do we often whisper sweet impossibilities into our lives when it's time to plan time for ourselves?

These are not questions to make you think hard or bang your head in shame against a wall. More so, they are simply thoughts that tickle my frontal lobe whenever I have a client murmur that he or she can't take time out for themselves because of the million and one things that occur in their day because of the nature of their profession. Although my coaching style is no less than direct and framed with the best intentions to deliver the message with gentle honesty, it often rolls off my tongue in a manner similar to this:

  1. The time you just took to complain about your lack was time you could have used to add to your supply. If you can make time to tell me you don't have time then you in fact have time. Often people will perseverate on what they don't have, how life is unfair and how no one understands. What they don't realize is that they just flooded precious moments with enough negative force to level a building, and they could have instead used those 3 minutes or so to meditate and re-center.
  2. What's really important to you? I ask each and every one of my clients to define the difference between what's important verses what they feel is urgent. Often they will list family, a spiritual center and health at the top of their important list and every single task they have to do falls under the urgent side of the task sheet. If that's the case, why do the urgent tasks get crossed off weeks or often months before you tend to the important side of your life? Perhaps you have your priorities mixed up!
  3. Stop justifying your excuses. Really, this is one of the most pronounced statements I have to make with clients young and wise (I don't call anyone old). As humans, we are just full of them! Excuses, excuses and more excuses. We will find a back door out of the back yard if you allow us to. Of course you have a pile of work to do, babies to feed, pets to care for, parents to aide and committees to run. Who doesn't? You have the same 168 hours per week that I have so what makes you so special that you can't take 90 minutes or so once a week for yourself?
  4. You're being selfish! While you justify your lack of attention to the one person you actually have control over, your body, spirit and mind is being consistently depleted. Once you run out of gas, then what? Now you selfishly want your family to pause their life to take care of your ailing, failing, uncomfortable body, right?
  5. What nonsense do you speak? Notice that when you run off a list of cant's, not's or don't haves, there is a familiar pattern where the listener stares at you with an unknowing glare and occasionally sucks their teeth in disgust? Oh no, maybe that's just what I do. Listen, life is short and the day gets shorter with each passing minute. Consider that you will need to carve out time – whatever time frame works for your life and your balance - so that you can refuel and re-center. It's important and honestly an inevitable part of your evolution if you plan to stick around long enough for life to show you whats really important.

If you're tired of making excuses and justifying your cant's, then I have a few suggestions:

  1. Meditate for 3-5 minutes before you eat your lunch. By taking a moment to calm your mind and slow down your body, energy from the high pace you just ran through the morning of marathon meetings, you will open up the flow of energy through your body and be able to enjoy and digest your whole 15 minute lunch easier.
  2. Participate in a networking or social event once per month that is strictly for personal development. Let the professional cards, calls, and connections fall where they may. Your focus should be solely to enjoy a new environment with people that share your flare for wine, music, tennis, old movies or comedy. Whatever flights your fancy, enjoy!
  3. Park the car and take a stroll. There will always be those days, the ones you wish you could do over. Your boss was unreasonable, your peers didn't understand you or your employees looked at you as if you had 10 heads. It's inevitable! Concentrate on what you do have control over. In the moment, you can take a walk. 15 minutes will do it. No heavy laptop bags or briefcases allowed!
  4. Pull back from your normal regimen. Perhaps you are stuck in a rut and you can't get out. You may need to flip things on their head for a moment and purposely alter your schedule for one or two days to shake things up. Try doing simple things like eating a breakfast dinner, taking a 15 minute nap at lunch time (right after you eat your half sandwich and medium-sized apple).
  5. Stay hydrated. This sounds like common sense but it's often ignored. When you are dehydrated (as many of us are) your body is fatigued, the mind gets cloudy and your reflexes are not nearly as sharp as they should be. If you do nothing else, pause at least 8-10 times per day for 2 minutes and take in 6-8 ounces of water, tea or another clear, non-sugar (or sugar substitute) laden drink. Your organs will thank me!


About the Author

Naketa Thigpen

As President and co-owner of Thigpen's Professionals, LLC, Naketa Thigpen '00 is a Leadership Development Strategist, Life Management Consultant, Success Business Coach, Empowerment Speaker, and Author with a charge to guide professional creatives who aim to impact the world from idle to awesome as they push through transition and into a positive transformation of purposeful success. Thigpen's Professionals, LLC is a for-profit life management and professional development services company with a mission to promote sustainability that will ultimately empower professionals, burgeoning leaders and entrepreneurs to break barriers and execute their ideas effectively through a development of systems and services that infuse work life balance into the core of their business.

Mrs. Thigpen's professional foundation is built on her success and respectable reputation as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Ph.D. candidate at Walden University, Public Health-Community Health Education/Corporate Wellness & Employee Retention; graduate of Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research and obtained her Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology from Drexel University. She has published several books including Leadership Essentials Kit for the Busy Be, Barrier Breakers Reference Guide & Workbook, Leading A Balanced Life: A Workbook for Time Limited Professionals, and Careerpreneurs Kickstart: 25 Ways to Subtract Fear and Add Success to Your Business.

Honored by the NAACP in 2013 as one of 104 Most Influential Black Women In Philadelphia and recently nominated for an Authentic Servant Leadership Award in 2014, Mrs. Thigpen has earned several post-graduate certifications, and is active in the community. As a founding member of W.O.V.E.N (Women of Vision Empowerment Network and President of the Philadelphia Chapter of National Association of Professional Women, Mrs. Thigpen is purposed to empower!

Naketa Thigpen has provided Professional Development Training Services for over 2000 professionals. She is quickly making a mark in the professional development world by delivering impactful leadership trainings to professional creatives who impact the world through mediums such as digital and print media, hospitality and consumer advocacy. Utilizing her distinct experiential, informative and highly energetic training style, popular programs such as Balance Beam™, Developing Leaders, AlignedMinds™ Master Class, The Power Of Boundaries In Business, Conflict Resolution, & Professional Development/Self-care Life Management Strategies have wowed audiences of diverse professional backgrounds providing a fresh perspective and message of empowerment that motivates individuals and organizations to implement changes that improve their lives and their bottom line.

For more information please visit

Issue Archive

July 2014
Defining and Finding a Break

August 2014
Reflect and Pay It Forward