It was Fall 1999. I came home to my parents house on the weekend and flipped through the mail that had been delivered to their house while I was away in college. One envelope caught my attention.
This envelope was from the State of Missouri. Uh oh!
The letter inside stated that my driver’s license would be suspended if I got any more points added to my record. Two speeding tickets was all it took to reach that point.
I needed to slow down.
Wherever I drove, I drove fast. I was always driving well above the speed limit. I couldn’t slow down and just drive the “limit.” I had to go faster.
That letter, however, made me realize I HAD to slow down. I definitely didn’t want to lose my license over the need for speed.
That letter serves as a great metaphor for life. We all need to slow down. We’re in too big of a rush to do everything.
Life is too short to rush through and not enjoy the small things.
For the men reading this – do you remember the last car trip you took? You wouldn’t stop on the trip unless absolutely necessary. You got frustrated when the kids had to use the restroom. You didn’t want to stop and eat; you wanted to go through a drive-thru and eat on the way.
You were stressed the entire drive because you had a destination to reach and you wanted to reach it as fast as possible. You were focused on the destination instead of the journey.
Life is not about our destination. We’re all going to end up in the ground. Life is about the journey. It’s about experiences and influence. It’s about the small things just as much as the big things.
You need to slow down.
As Much As Possible
We’re being pushed and pushed to increase productivity at work. We have to get more done in shorter allotted time. We need to produce as much as possible.
Productivity is important, don’t get me wrong. I live each day by recording each quarter-hour. It’s all about the billable hour. I understand that is how the accounting profession works. That’s okay.
When we rush to get as much done, we can sacrifice a few things such as:
1. Enjoying the process
2. Quality of the work
3. Educating others
We need to get things done and get them done effectively. But, if we get something done and have to redo it because we didn’t slow down or if we increased our stress level too high, what’s the point?
Decrease Your Stress Level
I’m a firm believer that stress is necessary. Unless we have some form of stress, such as a deadline or a goal, we won’t grow. That being said, we typically have higher stress levels than needed.
We do it to ourselves. We need to slow down.
Back to my speeding ticket story. I remember several instances of going 30 or 40 miles an hour over the speed limit and stressing out so much about watching for police on the roads. My back, neck and shoulders tensed up when I drove because I was so stressed.
When I got behind a slowpoke (i.e., someone going the speed limit), on a back road and I was not able to pass him, it was inevitable that we would pass a cop shooting radar. I should have received hundreds of tickets but I got lucky over and over again.
The stress wasn’t worth it. When I received that letter and decided that losing my license was not worth the stress, my life changed. Now, I set the cruise control and don’t worry. I haven’t gotten a ticket or even a warning since 1999.
What can you do to slow down? I’m still a work in progress but here are a five things I do:
1. Plan ahead – When you plan ahead, you’ll give yourself enough time. Having enough time to accomplish your task or reach your destination will decrease your stress level.
2. Ask for help – If you’re struggling to get something done because you don’t have the resources or the knowledge to complete it, time flies by. Before you know it, you’re deadline will be there and you won’t be close to completion.
Ask for help so you can better understand what your doing or have additional resources to complete your task. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s actually a demonstration of strength.
3. Take breaks – The most productive people don’t work all the time. They take time to recharge their batteries, to get their minds off of what they’re doing. They relax. They take vacations.
It’s a funny thing in the corporate world. Highly successful executives take their allotted time of vacation each year. However, those under them criticize the executives for taking those vacations. The executives understand how important that time away is.
4. Be early – My favorite way to slow down and reduce stress is to be early. It’s rare that I don’t arrive at least 20 minutes early to a meeting. Being early provides leeway for getting lost, accidents, etc.
For morning meetings, I’m usually at least an hour early. With that extra hour of time, I can drink some coffee, plan my day and even write. That hour is one of the most productive hours of my day.
5. Unscheduled time – Do not schedule every minute of every day. You cannot control how everything goes during the day. If you schedule every minute, you’re going to get behind. Then, you’ll have to rush.
Schedule no more than half of your day. Leave time for things that come up. You won’t be sorry.
It’s up to you.
If you want to enjoy more of your life, are you willing to slow down? Are you willing to do the five things above?
No one has more control of your life than you. Your boss doesn’t control you. Neither does your spouse. Everything you do is a result of a choice you make.
Take control of your life and slow down. Don’t let someone put unrealistic deadlines on you. Stand up for what you want and need. Life is too precious.
If everyone would understand the importance of slowing down, it wouldn’t be such a difficult concept to put into use. So, instead of “liking” or “favoriting” this post, will you help spread the message by “sharing” this on your favorite social media platform?