Without a doubt, I think most of us feel we are on limited time, so in order to fill every minute of every day, live life to the fullest and then to overflowing, we rush. We rush from the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning to when we crash into bed at night, and then we do it all over again for the next five days. Then the weekend comes, and we rush to fill every minute of time with the fun, family, food and football.
It just seems to be that most of our lives are structured. And while I understand the need to get things done, please allow me to make a suggestion for your amazing future–don’t rush.
When we were younger we rushed to be old enough to drive, then we rushed to go to work to make our own money. We rushed to finish school so we could rush into the world to make our way, we rushed to find someone to love and live life with and we rushed to have a family. Now we rush to find the perfect job, until we have to rush to find another perfect job, and then we rush into the retirement (if we can afford it), and in retirement we rush to do things we couldn’t do while we were working or had a young family, and then we keep on rushing to the end of our days.
Yes, most of us rush. And no matter how many times we tell ourselves that we’re going to slow down and take some time for friends and family and fun, we’re good for maybe a long weekend or even a vacation. And then we climb back onto the speeding training and hurry back into our lives of rushing to and fro because it just feels right to hustle until your haters ask if you’re hiring. That’s the American Way.
Now I’m not going to admonish you and tell you not to rush because until you or your brain and body decide that is a good idea, my words and warning are empty. But be aware that one day you will stop by choice or by necessity or by force, and then you will see how much you have missed while you were so busy rushing saving the world, your family or your projects.
It seems a bit ludicrous for me ask you to slow down since I don’t do that well myself unless forced (i.e., two knee surgeries). And yet I know from experience that slowing down was good for my whole being and left me well-rested and relaxed and mindful of what I have and who I am.
As I close out this chapter of my five-year endeavor from writing a weekly blog and producing a weekly podcast, I am looking forward to slowing down and discovering what is next. And while my mind has been ruminating over the many new opportunities that I can envision, I am forcing myself to put on the brakes, seek out some advice and sketch a plan before I begin again.
As a speaker, my work is somewhat cyclical since most big conferences are not held during the holidays, so I have a natural workflow cycle that comes to a simmer while the holidays come and go. And then work and conferences and engagements pick up after the New Year. It took me years to adjust to the slower pace of the holidays, but now that I am older and wiser I consider it a blessing in my line of work to have a slow time to rest, regroup and recover before I begin again.
As Americans, we rush–not sure why that is, but it does seem to be a part of our mental makeup to achieve the high level of success that we idolize and dream about. You know the phrases, early bird gets the worm, and snooze and you lose, don’t miss the boat, and burn the midnight oil and every other idiom that we grew up with that pushed us towards the idea that hard work equaled success.
When I travel, primarily in the Middle East, I am always amazed how much time I spend in coffee shops in the middle of the afternoon with my colleagues. That being said, I am usually working until 8 or 9 pm until we go to dinner only to start over again the next day. (For the record, I hate eating that late.) But it is in those coffee shop siestas that I enjoy a different type of conversation with my clients as we bond over life, families and business. Many times my clients ask about the American mindset of work and reward, and it is hard for them to understand our push for outward success at all costs, yet as I point out in each country, it is a different set of pressures to be seen as successful to others. Often I get pushback that outward success doesn’t matter until I start asking about their nice clothes, home, car and vacations, then it comes to light.
I’m not sure why most of us don’t do what we know is good for us like slowing down and resting a bit, but we don’t, and then we push ourselves to the next project and the next.
I have a few friends who are about to retire and a few who have, and it is fascinating for me to watch them poke at the idea of slowing down and not rushing since pretty soon there will be nothing for them to do. Not saying they won’t still work in another field or take up a new volunteer opportunity, but the concept of not rushing day to day is a whole new model for them to consider.
Watching them in transition, one thing I have noticed is how physically sick most of them become until their bodies completely unwind from the years of stress and worry that kept them tight and tied up in knots. Sometimes it takes weeks and for others months before I can see the loosening of time and schedules that begins to ease them into a different life, one which (after they get well again) begins to suit them nicely.
If you put the phrase “don’t rush into” in the subject line of your favorite search engine, the first few hits are: don’t rush into things, relationships, marriage, anything, love, and any type of relationship. I found that to be a funny list–true, but funny–because we are all cautioned not to rush into things that could cause a lifetime of pain. But while we’re instructed not to rush into things, we more often than not ignore that advice and continue to rush in our lives.
I am fully aware that life is short, and if we’re going to see the world and live life to full and overflowing, we’ve got to get going. While I totally agree, I just want to ask you to consider another option for the upcoming holiday season.
You know that when you rush and hustle and hurry you’re going to miss some moments in life that very well could be the memories that sustain you in hard times, so, friend, please heed my advice and slow down, and watch and listen.
Your loved ones want and need your attention, and in your make-it-perfect spectacular mental image of being Super Person, you’re rushing to make it the best Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and every other holiday ever. While in your hurry mode, you’re doing what you think is expected. Although I’m sure it’s all appreciated, I would venture to say that slowing down to make time and memories in your hustle and hurry will be the life-lasting stories your friends and loved ones will talk about and carry with them longer than any costume, turkey leg, overflowing stocking or happy New Year party hat ever will.
It is not easy to stop the train of activities until you fall into bed sick and tired and miserably uncomfortable because your body said enough. So why not consider another option, which is to slow it down and chill, stay in and watch a movie, order pizza, play a board game or invite friends over to dinner. Maybe you can take your family to an event and make them talk to you, or sit in gentle silence that speaks volumes of your contentment with the life you have and the love you’ve been given.
Friends, time will pass quickly enough and your rushing days will soon be over, and then what?
I love this anonymous quote, “The most beautiful things in life are not things. They’re people, places, memories and pictures. They’re feelings and moments, and smiles, and laughter.”
I am speaking to myself as well as to you today. I admit I am not good at slowing down because my plate in life is so full that I can barely see the top. But I do know that my posse needs to feel loved, connected and valued, and I am willing to leave some things undone so I can do what is needed (and what I want to do) in the carved out time and space I willingly choose to give to others.
Good things take time, and while you have the time, I strongly encourage you to stop rushing, consider slowing down and enjoying life. Collect memories and not just things. Focus on finding and healing yourself so you can be a full vessel to fill others. Trust the timing of your life, wait for what you deserve, don’t settle and be patient. Good things take time, and time is what it takes to make things amazing.
Ah, friend, don’t miss out on the journey by rushing to the destination. Remember that good things in life need time to grow, so don’t rush.