Life in the slow lane
Updated: Feb 13
"There is more to life than simply increasing it's speed" ~ Mahatma Ghandhi
We live in a fast-paced world where often our only relief comes from a two week holiday which, of course, speeds by and before you know it your back home and striving to get ahead again.
How many times have you heard the mantra "If at first, you don't succeed, try, try again" in connection to achieving our ‘to do's, goals and ambitions? We are often told that the route to success is to strive, persevere and slog as hard as we can, but this can work to your detriment and cause stress, anxiety and other health and wellbeing issues.
But imagine if, instead of striving to get ahead, we could slow down, take the pressure off and still achieve our goals.
You can jinx success by over efforting and being too intense. For grace to enter your life, you need to make space for forces beyond your control.
Sometimes we need to take a different approach. We need to stop trying so hard. But how can taking our foot off the accelerator and slowing down possibly get results?
When faced with the desire to do something well, we often sabotage ourselves by trying too hard. If a deadline is looming for a piece of work or you have an exam coming up, we might pull the classic caffeine fuelled 'all-nighter' to get it done on time (I've been there and done that many times in the past). But this is precisely the opposite of what you should do. Sleep is our biggest ally; it allows the unconscious mind to process everything that we have gone through during the day. If you spend all day preparing for a big meeting or exam and then you don't sleep, all of that mental groundwork isn't getting consolidated in your brain.
It's the same with people who work and don't take holidays. It's not productive. If you don't take time away from what you are trying to achieve, you will never allow your mind to tell you about all the new ideas it's trying to come up with, which is what is going to help you succeed in your goals.
Many of us spend most of the day sat at our desks beavering away. But working tirelessly at our desks is not only bad for our health but can also stifle our creativity. By standing and stepping away from the desk, you regain your 'personal power' not only improving blood sugar levels and blood pressure but also de-stressing and releasing creativity, so that you can take real steps towards your goals.
How much real rest are you getting? Many of us are operating in default mode, stressed out and ready for action, which makes it hard to switch off and rest. Better quality sleep means we feel more refreshed from less sleep, allowing us to be more focused the following day. Try mindfulness techniques to switch off from your day and get a good nights sleep to achieve more tomorrow.
Procrastination can really put the brakes on success when we have too much to do. Instead of just keeping busy with jobs, it might be more productive to stop working and rest, relax or have some fun. If your "I don't feel like it" mood is holding you back, take a break play some upbeat songs, go for a walk, do some yoga, spend some time doing a craft that you love, anything that takes you away for a bit. I love doing Yoga. In the silence, my brain seems to slow right down - I get clearer more focused thoughts and can better get past the procrastination.
Maybe you can be more productive for a short amount of time, but we need rest. Countless studies confirm the importance of rest for productivity. Eventually, a lifestyle of busyness will detract from our productivity and more importantly our health and wellbeing.
A new way of thinking…
The key thing is when you get to a certain point you need to stop trying. So, get into the habit of noticing when you are working or trying too hard and slow down. Learn when you need to brake and when to accelerate.
Listen to your mind and body and know when to slow down, rather than just doing what everyone else expects of you. It’s a valuable shortcut to mastering success.
Taking a step back to slow down in order to achieve more can be productive in the long run, but are there times when we need to keep the momentum going?
When to speed up if you are too busy...
Just as it might be a sign to take a step back when you find yourself procrastinating, it might be a sign to speed up depending on what’s affecting you. If it’s your need for perfection that’s holding you back, create momentum by giving the impression that you have already started. Get your project and spend a few minutes looking at it. Then begin to organise small chunks and sections. Start with the smaller jobs first, as ticking them off your list will give you the momentum to carry on.
When you are extremely busy and have too much to do, short bursts of speedy work can be useful. "Machine-gunning' - creating the opportunity to quickly address and check off some of your to-do list. Start by giving yourself a set amount of time at a certain point in the day to deal with distractions such as emails and phone calls, but try to set a time limit. This creates a deadline for you to work towards, but also gives you a sense of urgency in order to blast through those all-important tasks.
Better yet, what if you could forget about trying to be the best and surrender to a simpler, less stressful, but equally successful life?