Updated on October 18th, 2018
Modern life in industrialised societies has become very fast. Subjected to a constant barrage of information, interactions, and opportunities from all over the world, at all times, many of us are feeling the overwhelm, and the stress and strain of it. I believe that slowing down, and living life at a pace that feels right for you, is the number one thing you can do to make your life happier.
Read on to discover 3 ways to do just that.
Modern life in industrialised societies has become very fast.
Many of us are subject to a constant barrage of information, contact requests, marketing messages, interactions, options, opportunities and possibilities from all over the world, at all times. And we are quite used to it – or are we?
Maybe not. Whilst there’s a place for speed, many of us are also feeling the consequences of our fast lives in terms of overwhelm, fatigue and stress. Having lived in the fast lane of Management Consulting for over ten years I know what I’m talking about! 🙂
The number one thing that I’ve done for myself that has made my life happier is to slow down – and start living life at a pace that suits me. (Find out why this is so important to get right.)
I left the corporate world at the time, worked part-time as a sole trader, and started living a portfolio-lifestyle, exploring a lot of creative-artistic activities, before finding my work calling in life coaching.
You, however, might not want a complete career and life change in order to live at a pace that suits you. (Although perhaps you might?)
So I thought I’d share three ways of adjusting pace, or slowing down you can do independently of a change of work.
And by the way:
By slowing down I don’t mean doing everything at snail’s pace –
although doing at least some things at snail’s pace
might actually be quite enjoyable!
What I mean is this:
1. Do less, and do nothing, more often
We’re constantly being bombarded with more stuff than we can ever process.
Make your peace with that.
And deliberately focus on fewer things at any time – and give them justice. Say a polite, conscious NO to more activities or more people – for the right reasons. And decide that some stuff can wait til later.
Pack your schedule – both personal and professional – less densely: Plan for less meetings, less travel, less To Dos, less projects, less activities, less people.
Limit your time on email or social media – e.g. to no more than one hour a day – then switch off. Decide not to be reachable 24/7.
Ask or plan for longer deadlines or delivery times.
Cut down on mindless TV or internet surfing, or on keeping busy by filling your commute with news and work catch up.
Then use the time you freed up do nothing. That’s right: Nothing. Perhaps not all of the time. But at least some of the time.
Have some empty time, perhaps making your commute an opportunity to just look out of the train window, or stare into space for a bit, like Albert Einstein used to do.
Notice how you gradually come down from the hype. Stay with any upcoming boredom until it fades – and discover a calm and relaxed inner state on the other side of it. Then re-engage with activities or people from that state.
2. Do things at their right pace
Some things will always need to be enjoyed fast, and some will have to be fast by necessity. Roller-coaster rides, for example. Or work deadlines that are out of your control. So by all means do them fast. But keep an inner consciousness, an inner slow attitude: Don’t let that speed experience take you over and become addictive. And don’t accelerate what’s unacceleratable.
Instead, balance your life with enough things that need to be done slowly and in-depth, and do them:
Take the time to really engage with the people that are important to you (mobile phones switched off). Play with the kids – for as long as it takes. Enjoy doing some of your work slowly and thoroughly. Take up a slow hobby: Colouring in beautiful drawings. Knitting. Reflective writing. Gardening. Reading War and Peace for the pleasure of it.
And yes – use yoga or meditation to help yourself transition into slow down mode after a hectic day.
3. Do things with respect to your rhythm
We’re not machines:
We have days when we’re fitter, and can do more and work faster, and days when we’re not feeling so great, and would be better off doing less and working more slowly.
Also, irrespective of fitness levels and how we’re feeling day-to-day, we’re different people, too: Some of us have a naturally faster rhythm, whereas others prefer a mellower rhythm.
When we’re on the speed treadmill, we’ve trained ourselves to overrule our own preferred rhythm, and we end up not noticing it anymore. (And going into work when we’re sick, postponing holidays even though we’re tired, taking on more than we are able to do in a certain amount of time, and so on.)
Undo the overrule of your own rhythm, and start noticing how you are feeling each day.
Also notice: Are you a fast or slow person? And are you having a ‘fit day’, or a ‘not feeling so great day’?
Each day, tune into how you are, and see if you can adjust the pace of work and other activities to the best rhythm for you.
It won’t be perfect
It’ll take a bit of observation, and some trial and error. And making adjustments when it’s not right.
The perfect balance of fast and slow, the perfect adjustment to what each activity needs, and what you need, doesn’t exist. It’s something to constantly keep an eye on – in a relaxed way, if possible. After all, life happens, with its habit of taking us by surprise, throwing curve balls, and hijacking our best intentions!
But watching the pace of your life, and slowing down where you need to, is worth it, because each time you do it, you’ll feel more yourself.
And it’ll give you back a bit of your life!
What do you think of that?
Which slowing down strategies work for you?
How do you manage the transitions between fast and slow?
As ever, I love to hear from you – so why not share your views in the comments box below?