I feel like I’ve had two working lives. And they seem like night and day.
There was a time that I was chained to my phone, email and work. I would literally work around the clock attending to problems that couldn’t wait another second and the next unfolding crisis.
My life was tied to the news of the day.
The next political attack.
The next political move by an opponent.
“She said, he said” politics.
Twitter bickering and Facebook wars.
That was my life working in electoral politics, helping candidates get elected to office.
Always on the go. 24/7.
Furiously climbing the mountain, but where are we going?
I thought staying active and productive was the best way to live a rich life.
Your dreams came true more quickly when you worked harder.
The more quickly and intensely your pursued your goals, the more quickly you climbed the mountain—the mountain to wealth, success, power and prestige!
No, no one really stops and asks why we’re climbing the mountain in the first place. Or how we even ended up on that mountain.
But you look around and see others climbing that mountain of success with a furious intensity.
The happiness at the mountaintop comes with money, power, social mobility, financial and material success.
Fast forward to slowing down.
Why just eat breakfast when you can eat breakfast and get caught up on all the political news at the same time?
Why just drive to work when you could talk to clients and managers on speakerphone while you’re on the road?
Why just wait in line to buy groceries when you could also answer an email or ten?
I was doing all of this and more in my own my career at one point.
In my desire to get “there,” I forgot where I was going or why I wanted to get there in the first place. And I was completely missing the point on my way there.
After life threw me into the washing machine of life for a prolonged spin cycle, I began to become more conscious of what I was doing.
When you lose everything (okay, a relationship, but it sure did like losing everything), you hit rock bottom.
And when you’re there, you can do one of three things:
- Gallivant in sorrow, drinking yourself into a drunken stupor, living a life on the edge, marinating in loneliness, sadness and pain.
- Continue doing what you’ve been doing – living the fast-paced and mindless life in pursuit of things that really don’t make you happy.
- Or start evaluating everything that you’re doing in your life. Reprioritize. And slow the heck down.
I had a choice to continue living mindlessly or to begin to live consciously.
You get the point: when life breaks you down, chops you up and grinds you to a halt, you wake up to realize you have choices. A lot of them.
To start over.
To think things through.
To consciously decide how you want to spend your life.
So now, instead of racing through life like a cheetah in search of my evening meal, I gently graze like a goat on the country grass as I take in the sights and sounds.
A leisurely breakfast at home. Heck, even working from home.
A morning walk. A silent meditation. Listening to the birds chirping outside my window. Watching the sun rise. Watching it set.
Are you overbooking your life?
In Arianna Huffington’s new book, Thrive, she observes how we try to shave a few seconds off our daily routine, in hopes that we can create enough space to schedule yet another meeting or appointment that will help us climb the mountain of success.
“Like airlines, we overbook ourselves…We fear that if we don’t cram as much as possible into our day, we might miss out on something fabulous, important, special, or career advancing. But there are no rollover minutes in life. We don’t get to keep all that time we ‘save’. It’s a very costly way to live,” she observes.
Are you mindlessly overbooking your life because you are trying to be overly productive or keep up with your high-performing celebrity wannabe White House-crashing socially mobile neighbors?
Or are you going to fight back against what Huffington calls “hurry sickness”?
Why should you slow down in a world of Twitter, Snapchat and Kimye-style televised weddings?
I’m going to show you below how slowing down your life is the real secret to untapped wealth and abundance. And even a few steps on how to do it!
When you slow down and enjoy life, soaking up the small moments, you will find the meaning and fulfillment you’re looking for.
Here are just some of the reasons to hit the pause button and travel in slow motion:
To be one with the now.
You seem to be working for a day that may never come. Running, packing, racing, speeding…to what? For what?
This is the very moment that you and I know for sure exists. Yesterday is a story that can be forgotten, and tomorrow isn’t a guarantee.
As Garth asked, “What if tomorrow never comes?”
Slow down so you can be present and in the moment.
Embrace and value experiences.
Enjoy the experiences that you have daily. Instead of simply surviving your work day, tolerating your social life and hustling to survive another day with the kids, find meaning and fulfillment in each day and experience.
Slowing down allows you to taste and feel the joy of everyday experiences, the taste of that oolong tea and the company of your bestie.
To celebrate everyday happiness.
Waiting for happiness for tomorrow? I was.
A message from happiness to you: don’t wait on me, girl.
Happiness doesn’t come from your life partner showing up tomorrow, landing your dream job at Mindvalley or Zappos, or your life falling into place as you desire it.
Happiness comes from within you. Here. Now. Per your request. Your soul’s desire. Your heart’s choice.
Finding happiness in the small moments and everyday moments is the real secret to a happy life.
Connection and relationships.
When you slow it down, you have time for the people in your life. You can simply sit and be present with them. Enjoy their company and their presence.
When you don’t have to go anywhere or rush to the next thing, you can simply enjoy the people in your life.
When you slow down, there is time for seeking within. You can reconnect with your spiritual nature and water your soul. When your external world slows down, you have time to visit and sit with yourself.
Within is where all the answers you’re looking for can be found.
When you race through life without stopping, you don’t have much time to reflect and grow as a person.
You don’t have time for personal development, self-improvement and character building. You have no time to learn life’s lessons because you’re always off to the next thing.
Slowing down allows you reflect, observe and grow as a person.
And when you take all these factors into account, you have the makings of a very rich and rewarding life.
A life that slows down gives you the treasure of time, which permits connection, relationships, inner-awareness, growth, character-building, and more.
Your inner peace, stress-less lifestyle, and uncountable moments of pleasure are things that money absolutely can’t buy.
10 ways to take off your running shoes and slow it down.
1. Set the intention to live a slower life.
Nothing is more important than this. If you’re operating on auto-pilot in life, you enjoy cruising at 100 miles per hour.
You’re dashing through life with an Olympic torch in your hand so you can enter the stadium to pick up your medal. Unfortunately, you’ll be dead tired when you get there, and you’ll find that the medal ceremony only lasts for 5 minutes.
And you would have missed the sights and scenes on your way to victory.
If you want to slow things down, set the intention to slow it down. Commit to yourself that you’re going to spend less time living an overcommitted life, less time in your car in traffic, and less time doing things you can’t stand.
Say yes to simplifying, reducing commitments, and living more slowly.
2. Know yourself better so you can reprioritize your life.
If you don’t know what you want, you’re going to be pulled in many different directions without much focus.
Identifying and acknowledging what’s important to you – family, passion, fun, adventure, creativity, spirituality, service or other values – is your first step to self-understanding.
Once you acknowledge that yes, these 2 or 3 things are what make for a fulfilling life, then you can create a life that’s based around those things.
You can start doing more of those things that are in alignment with what’s important to you in life and shut the doors on all those other things that are wasting your time and energy.
Understanding your values system is a great way to begin to reprioritize your life, and life coach Tim Brownson has an entire book dedicated to this topic alone.
Understanding your values allows you to live a life that’s more in line with who you are while reducing frivolous commitments.
3. Carve out blocks of “do-nothing” time.
Are you one of those people who has every minute of their day on their calendar? Wonderful.
Please put the gun down and step away from your calendar.
Your productivity and efficiency has gotten you far in life, but has it really?
Could slowing down and resting turbo-charge your productivity and your output?
Purposefully add blocks of time into your calendar, during the work day if possible, where you’re doing nothing constructive. Take this time to do nothing or do something leisurely: walking, a nap, or simply sitting and taking in the day.
If you can’t calendar in blocks of “do-nothing” time into your day, then try to find moments where you squeeze in some “do-nothing” time. Try a longer lunch, a more leisurely walk to your next meeting, or some breathing exercises on your next work conference call.
4. Plan a little.
Similar to creating blocks of time where you do nothing, one way to slow things down and take life at a slower pace is a little daily or weekly planning.
You have to know what’s on your plate so you can identify what’s important to you and what’s not.
Once you realize what’s important to you and squash those things that terrorize you and eat up your time, then create a plan that allows you to do what you have to do in the amount of time you have.
If you plan ahead, you can reduce the rushing, the anxiety and the mindless “busyness” of life. A little pre-planning reminds you how much time you have to do the work that’s in front of you.
If it’s overwhelming, then get help, push some things off to the following week, say “no” to some of what’s on your plate and get a little more breathing room.
7 minutes of planning can reduce 7 days of reckless living.
Simple – plan a little, breathe a little easier.
5. Stop overbooking yourself.
If you were a hotel, would you be the sold-out New York Four Seasons Hotel?
Social gatherings, family gatherings, kids’ events, pet reunions, Burning Man festivals, the asparagus festival, the Cannes film festival. Enough already.
You may feel the desire to be seen. To be seen is to be admired, you might mistakenly believe.
People who are dashing around from the party scene to the nightclub scene to the charity dinner scene for the sole purpose of being noticed are living an illusionary dream.
If you’re simply showing up for your own vanity and ego, first get over yourself.
Then start saying “no” like Solange’s flying kicks to brother-in-law Jay-Z: quickly, furiously and with purpose (but in a loving “we’re still family at the end of the day” kind of way).
“Sorry, I can’t.”
“Nope, can’t do that.”
“Maybe next time.”
“Thanks for the invite anyway. Love you. Kisses. I send my best. I send my regards. I send my ex. I send my condolences, etc. etc.”
Socially, personally, professionally and even sexually (huh?), say no.
6. Spend time alone. Focus on self-care.
What do you do with all that extra time you now have?
First, savor it. Then use that time to take care of yourself, mentally, physically and spiritually.
Exercise. Meditation. Yoga. Reading. Thinking. Dreaming time.
The art of simply sitting and doing nothing.
“More and more scientific studies speak to the irrefutable benefits of sleep,” Arianna Huffington writes in Thrive.
“A study published in Science even calculated that for the sleep-deprived, an extra hour of sleep can do more for their daily happiness than a $60,000 raise,” Huffington shares.
When you’re rushing through life sleep-deprived, you’re harming your body and your ability to be most productive.
Set earlier bed times and give yourself the luxury of waking up without an alarm clock. Wake up when you’re rested. Read more tips here on getting better sleep.
7. Set limits on technology.
Are you hooked to your cell phone, iPad, laptop and other accessories?
24 hours a day?
Turn off all devices at a certain time. Disconnect.
As Huffington suggests in Thrive, shut your electronic equipment off and keep it in a different room.
“Disconnecting from the digital world will help you reconnect to your wisdom, intuition, and creativity,” she writes.
I’ve started doing this of late and am surprised at how much more peaceful and less worried I am. I don’t worry about who’s emailed me, who’s texting me at midnight or tweeting at me.
Get the technology out of your room and shut it off before you go to bed.
8. Take as much time as it takes to do something.
In a rush and tumble world, it’s all about speed and efficiency. What’s the quickest way to get the job done?
As an experiment, why not give yourself the liberty to take as much time as you need to do a task?
And do only that one task at a time. Cut out multi-tasking and opt for a single-minded approach to the task at hand.
Pour yourself a cup of tea.
Eat your breakfast focused on the taste and texture of the food you’re chewing on. Cut out emails and skimming the news headlines as you devour your Cheerios.
Enjoy the process—slow down and find satisfaction in doing the task by itself.
9. Don’t waste your time, like you wouldn’t waste your money.
Would you go around giving people hundreds of dollar bills for no reason?
Do you toss bags of money from your Jetta’s window (if you do, please text me your address ASAP)?
We don’t frivolously shell out the Benjamins mindlessly, so why waste a chunk of your time?
What if your time was like your money?
Would it easier for you to be more protective of your time?
Could you say “no” more?
I understand that the point of this article is to encourage you to have more time and not live in time scarcity, but this point asks you to be mindful of and careful with the time you do have.
What do you really want to do with your time? Treasure your decisions and choices based on what’s important to you.
10. Stay focused on your own life.
It’s very easy to start going every which way when you’re trying to march in someone else’s parade.
Just because EVERYONE you know is doing the same thing, pursuing the same things and living the same life, that doesn’t mean you have to.
Your friend getting a Masters doesn’t mean you need to get your application in too. Your friend going to law school shouldn’t inspire you, but remind you to get them psychological help.
Your friend nailing her dream job at the top-four consulting firm shouldn’t make you feel like you’re slacking in life and you need to get out of your comfortable career.
It’s so easy to see what people are doing and want to duplicate their dreams. You start running around frantically trying to live their lives, driving yourself to your wit’s end.
Ask yourself if you really want something before you do it. See how it fits with your life, your dreams and your values.
Go from within. Don’t let outside pressures or people dictate how to live. March to your own beat.
When your life slows down, you will have peace and happiness that’s priceless. You’ll also have the focus and productivity to pursue those things that YOU really want in life.
Living in alignment with your priorities and your values will produce a feeling of immense joy, abundance and happiness that no dollar amount or job could give you.
Now go brew yourself a cup of tea and call it a day, mate. Time to turn off the iPhone, enjoy a little “do-nothing” time and get to bed early for a full night’s rest.
* Photo Credit daran_kandasamy
If you enjoyed this post and think someone could benefit from it, I would appreciate you sharing on your favorite social networks or forwarding this link to a friend.