Click here to watch the video instead.
When we want to go faster, the best way to do it is ... to slow down. This is a truth that I have re-learned many times. It can be a tricky one, because it goes directly against our logic and the way we have been taught to think. But once you get the hang of it, you can stop rushing and travel at warp speed. It sounds completely backwards, but it works, and I'm going to teach you how to do it. But first, let's take a look at what rushing actually creates.
Most of us think that the key to going faster is trying to go faster. But it doesn't work. Think about when you rush to type your password into your computer. You want to open the computer as fast as you can. But when you go as fast as you can, you make mistakes and then you end up having to type and retype and then finally type super slowly on the third try so you don't lock yourself out by getting it wrong three times in a row. If you had gone at a normal speed the first time around, you actually would've unlocked the thing faster. Rushing actually takes longer (and it's no fun). It's like a check that bounces every time, but we still keep trying to use it.
While it's obvious to see how rushing slows us down with little things, like unlocking a computer, we often still try to rush on bigger things, like work projects. We don't always call it rushing, though. We say things like, we need to be a little more efficient, or cut out unnecessary steps, or streamline. And we usually have good reasons for saying things like this. Our manager or VP or client has told us that things need to happen as quickly as possible, and we just want to do a good job.
But thinking that things need to happen quickly does not make them happen quickly, as anyone who has ever been stuck in traffic already knows. Instead, telling yourself that you don't have enough time or that you need to go really fast just makes you feel stressed and anxious. And as I've discussed before, feeling stressed and anxious does not lead to us going faster, being more efficient, or streamlining. For most of us, stressed and anxious do the opposite - they lead directly to stressing out, avoiding our work, panicking, and then rushing to get everything done at the last minute.
We think this happens because we don't have enough time. But it really happens because of our thoughts. Here's the thing, even if it's true that you could be more efficient and that would help you out, the thought, "I need to be more efficient," is not necessarily what will create being more efficient.
Weird, right? You would think that this thought would create efficiency, but it doesn't, and the reason it doesn't is because of how the thought feels. Now, I know that some of y'all are not excited when I talk about feelings, but stay with me, because this is very important. Feelings are essential because feelings are what fuel our action. It doesn't matter how good a thought sounds if it feels like shit. It doesn't matter how true a thought is if the feeling it creates is keeping you from taking the action you want to take.
So. How do you go slow to go fast? It happens like this. First, think about what actions you need to take. Create a list of what you actually need to do to achieve your target, whatever it is. Once you have a list, pause. Consider what you could think that would get you to sit down and start right away. Most of us think that rushing ourselves will create this, but as you can see, it doesn't. Instead, I'd suggest trying a thought that feels good or at least neutral. If you're used to rushing yourself, you might want to try something simple like, "I'm just going to get started." You could also try something that creates excitement, like "This might be fun," or "I can make this fun" (these are two of my favorite thoughts, actually, because fun is one of my key business values). No matter what you choose to think, just pause to see how it feels. If it feels stressful, see what else you can come up with.
And here's the other reason to slow down and fuel your actions with positive feelings instead of trying to rush your way through life. Most of us only want to go faster so that we can have more of something we want. We rush through a project because we want to take on more projects. We hurry at the grocery store because we want to get home faster. We even rush through our yoga practice, because we want to go watch Netflix. But the only reason we're ever actually rushing is because we're trying to get to somewhere else where we think we'll be happier.
You've probably even experienced this. You think, I'd be so much happier if I could just get my projects done a little faster. Or you think, I'll be happy when I have a shorter commute. Or, I'll be so relieved when pigeon pose is done and I can finally relax. But, this doesn't work.
Why? Because, for one thing, by the time you get to the achievement, you will have a new goal or activity you're rushing towards, and two, you are living inside the thought pattern that you'll be happier in the future, which is never the now. Stop to think about that. When we tell ourselves we'll be happier later, when things change, we are putting off our own happiness for a day that never comes, because we never arrive to the future.
If you want to get to that goal or activity or future, and you want to enjoy it, the best way to do that is to practice enjoying your life now, however it is, imperfections and all. Because when you do get to wherever you're going, you're still going to be living the human experience. This isn't bad news. It's just the reality of being a person. This is not about brightsiding or positive thinking. This is about actually practicing the art of enjoying what is working now.
Because in any moment, there is stuff that's working and there's stuff that's not working. And yes, we want to address what's not working. But we also want to notice and enjoy what is working. Because it's fun. Because it feels good. And because noticing and enjoying what is working is one of the best ways to keep ourselves showing up and doing the work without always trying to rush ourselves towards a never-arriving tomorrow.
If the idea of giving up rushing sounds awesome but also terrifying, I can help you with that. Click here to schedule a consult.