Stop the Acela! It’s time to get off.

Couple on a train platformBy Gerri Leder

When you ride the Acela train between Washington and Boston, you view the landscape at speeds of upwards of 150 mph. You may give little thought to the cars stopped at the crossroads, the mechanics of train operations or the number of river crossings between point A and point B. Speed blurs all of that and keeps you focused on getting there — wherever “there” is today.

For those seeking change in their lives, summer is like stopping at the station, taking a breath and thinking about direction. It’s a time we can hit reset, measure our progress and evaluate our habits — including tweaking good habits and tossing out those that aren’t working for us.

As business people, our view is often like the Acela trip. We whiz through our lives, leave things in our wake and work in seasons. But, speed often keeps us from making important decisions about how we work, who we touch and how we allocate our time.

Are we focused on the right stuff or just too busy to change?

What if we paid more attention to our fulfillment and engagement — collectively referred to as “conscious awareness” — in our lives, our work and with the people closest to us? What would we change?

How can we use this time to apply our experience, seek greater awareness and change a habit or two?

  • Be present. Whatever is keeping you from living in the moment — digital devices, conference calls, an overfull schedule —let it go. Living in the moment is essential to well-being.“The next message you need is always right where you are,” wrote spiritual leader Ram Dass. What’s in front of you?You don’t need to save the world today. Visit a sick relative. Take your teenager on a field trip. Reframe the rallying cry at work. Be present and let the moment work for you.
  • Notice things in your periphery. When you tackle your least favorite tasks, it feels amazing to check them off…even if it’s easier to avoid noticing them. My “avoidance area” is household administration, and I miss things. So, I use my down time to scrub my credit card transactions, reevaluate my insurance policies, cancel an obsolete subscription and follow up on a health care claim. I feel lighter – as though I’d taken rocks out of my backpack. What’s lurking in your peripheral vision?
  • Change a habit. What would it take to change the bad habit gnawing at you, start something new or cast out old rituals that are no longer serving you? Embrace what’s working and flag the ripe targets for change. Changing habits begins with awareness and desire to seek a different path. Slowing down and stepping back from the “train” buys you deeper thought and can spark a commitment to behavior changes.
  • Be the ringleader. In what part of your life are people waiting for you to invite them in? What’s holding you back? I recently organized a BYOB Happy Hour for neighbors at a community spot.. I learned of one neighbor’s illness, the cross-country trip by another and a third’s impending move. Why not be the one to gather people together and learn from them?

Summer is unique for its long days and expansive moments of rest. Yes, we want to relax, travel, visit with family and friends, feel the ocean breezes and view the sunsets. We also gain from sparking our own self-awareness about what’s working — or not — in our lives.

Before the train leaves the station after Labor Day, what do you want to do to hit reset, cast out and establish new?


Gerri Leder,  founder of LederMark Communications & Coaching, helps leaders navigate change and seek greater fulfillment in their lives and their work. 

She is certified as an Energy Leadership Institute Master Practitioner (ELI-MP®) from iPEC, a leading coaching training organization. She has an MBA in Marketing from Loyola University in Maryland and BA in Journalism from the University of Richmond. She completed the Securities Industry Institute (SII) at the Wharton School of Business.

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