What would life be like at a slower pace? Unfortunately, few of us know because we don’t see changing pace as an option in today’s hectic world. We have very specific ideas about what we need to accomplish in the next minute and beyond, and slowing down is something we’ll do at a later time or date. Right? After all, we have so much to do and so little time to do it in! Don’t we?
I’m not always on the go, but when I am I tend to default to my “fast and furious mode.” Fast in the sense that I move fast, think fast, and react fast; and furious in the sense that I push myself to move, think, and react more quickly than others. I’m often fast and furious with the best of intentions, but my approach is not one-size-fits-all: sometimes others–and my intentions–are left behind. At the same time, I often unintentionally leave my satisfaction, enjoyment, and truest self behind.
I also see the fast and furious mode in others. Many people (including you?) are pushing themselves to move, think, and react more quickly than someone or everyone. They are often, like me, leaving others–if not their own best intentions, satisfaction, enjoyment, and truest selves–behind. By way of example: Isn’t there always someone to compete with in the workplace? When doing cardio or walking down the street, or to the bus, the train, the checkout, or _____? Surely you, like me, have had to covertly–or not so covertly–out-pace some random or known person just to be better, stronger, faster or _____ than him or her?
Don’t misinterpret: I get that American, if not global, culture most often rewards productivity, and that super-quick action and reaction seem necessary. I also understand that we can be more professionally productive when we take a fast and furious approach, but at what cost? The same approach can make us overly competitive, questionably creative, and narrowly inclusive in the workplace. Similarly, we can be more personally productive as the fast and furious approach often enables us to do, see, and be more. Yet, the same approach can also make us judgmental, contrived, and exclusionary. Certainly negative outcomes aren’t the only possible ones, but they certainly are increasingly probable and likely over the long-term. Simply put, the fast and furious approach often undermines sustainable productivity and a healthy organizational climate–not to mention our own well-being and peace of mind.
So…how do we do it all without falling behind? Simply put, we don’t do it all and we redefine “falling behind.” For starters, we have to mindfully (e.g. consciously and continuously) prioritize our lives. Professionally, this means understanding and embracing our limitations and the possibility of failure. It means developing our ability to overcome limitations and failure–as we reasonably can or want to–and taking on tasks and assignments that challenge without overwhelming us. It also means asking for help when we need it. Personally, this means understanding and embracing our wants and needs. It means evaluating and re-evaluating the value, resonance, and impact of both, and pursuing realistic goals at a pace that is subjectively deemed positive and appropriate. It also means relying on others for support.
Each of the above-mentioned ideas is aimed at creating realistic personal and professional expectations that give rise to a healthier and happier us. Some may scoff at the specificity or lack thereof, but each of these ideas has helped me to increase my productivity in a more mutually positive and supportive way. They’ve also helped me to slow and calm down, and to enjoy my life more. I’m sure they can do the same for you if you thoughtfully and mindfully consider and apply them. Here’s to both of us creating and realizing a pace that best matches our optimal personal and professional lives!