One thing I have learnt, time and again in very different areas of my life and in various different situations, is to slow down.
Pressure shows up for all of us in different ways. We push ourselves to do more, to achieve more. We get pushed at work to meet tight deadlines. We feel money pressures, social pressures. Often, these move us to go faster, try harder, do more. But do these pressures always make you do better. Yes, it can act as a motivator, but what if your motivator could be something that feels lighter?
Here’s a story to illustrate what I mean.
Change of pace
When we changed from our corporate lifestyle to our travelling one, we had to learn to slow down, to take the pressure off.
All our time was ours to do with as we pleased. Trouble was, there was a lot we wanted to do. Because there was so much we wanted to do, we travelled faster. We tried to do more, see more things, visit more places. We didn’t want to miss a thing. Now that we had this amazing opportunity, we wanted to make the most of it! And so we did.
What we didn’t realise is that travelling at this speed is really tiring! We didn’t notice it at first. It crept in. We didn’t see the beautiful things as we were meant to see them. We maybe just saw another old building instead of a beautiful medieval palace with enormous amounts of history and stories to tell.
We carried on at the same pace. We got more tired, we stopped enjoying things as we should. We felt a bit ungrateful and spoilt, like something was wrong with us for not being able to properly enjoy all these beautiful places we got to visit, the experiences we were able to have.
It took us a while to realise that we were just tired, that we had been going too fast and that we needed to slow down.
Truthfully, we had experienced this in travel in a few different situations, yet it was a lesson we had to keep on learning. Something in our nature seems to be rushing us.
The reason I’m sharing this story is because I’ve just learnt the lesson again.
Speed at work
This time in business. Since March 2020 I have had all the time available to work on my practice. I’ve been busy having many great conversations, it’s been great. But… about a month ago, I started to notice a heaviness about the prospect of a day of conversations. I told myself it was OK, because as soon as I was in conversation, I was happy and enjoying myself.
But the heaviness didn’t go away. And after a day spent on Zoom from 6:30am until 19:30 with only a short break, I decided something had to change. So I tried something new. I tried to slow down.
I changed the way I booked in meetings. I limited the number of meetings I would have for a while. I came up with a big ‘to do’ list of things I would do in my ‘down-time’. I was congratulating myself on my self-awareness, and the fact that I had finally learnt the lesson to slow down.
The heaviness went away, but the sense of busy-ness didn’t. I was telling myself I had created space to think and learn. To slow down my mind to get new inspiration. The truth was that I had filled that space right up with a big list of tasks, podcasts and books to fill my mind right up with other things.
I had slowed down in one area, the meetings, but I had not slowed down in anything else and certainly not in my mind. All this meant that I wasn’t seeing new things, I wasn’t getting new inspiration. I was just busy in a different way.
When I finally saw that, I realised that I could slow down more. I could put the ‘to do’ list away. I could put the podcasts away. I could just be. I didn’t HAVE to maximise every second of every day. Sometimes I could walk the dog without listening to a podcast, and instead see what thoughts would come to mind. Sometimes I could have a cup of tea without reading a book, I could just watch the birds in the garden.
Suddenly, I could see more.
Slowing down, like most things, works at different levels. I have re-learnt the lesson of slowing down once more. And I’m sure I will learn it again at yet a deeper level.
The more I learn, the more I can see, hear and experience.
What could slowing down do for you? What happens if you take the pressure off? I’d love to hear about your experience. You can use the contact form to share your story.
Cover image by Frans van Heerden from Pexels.