Have you ever heard the phrase “how you do anything is how you do everything”?
I used to do everything fast. I’d been a “doer” my whole life, and an efficient one at that. I was most energized by the feeling of completing something. I found myself saying “yes” a lot, with genuine enthusiasm in the moment, only to discover later that my plate felt too full.
None of this is inherently bad. I operated this way for most of my life — and in a lot of ways, it worked for me. It allowed me to excel in school and move through life in a very logical, straight-and-narrow kind of way.
So I kept going. I started my first full-time job days after graduating and, even as I switched jobs, I never took a break in between them. I walked quickly, I ate quickly…and, well, I did everything quickly. Not so surprisingly, I found myself in work environments where this way of operating was rewarded.
Part of me knew I wasn’t fully “enjoying the journey,” but really, I was way more into the destination. The problem was that every time I got to the destination, I was moving too quickly onto the next journey to actually enjoy and appreciate where I’d arrived.
It took something big — getting injured — to force me off my feet and finally learn about the value of slowing down. Before that experience, I associated slowing down with losing momentum. Falling behind.
I judged slowing down as lazy, unnecessary, and inefficient. I was perfectly fine relaxing on vacations, because I felt like I’d “earned” them. Relaxing was “allowed." What I’ve learned since is that slowing down is always available to us. It’s not something we have to earn, and it’s a potent form of self-care.
Slowing down is crucial to make sure you’re moving in the right direction, and creating a life that you actually want to be a part of every day.
Otherwise, you might go go go in a single direction for years, only to wake up one day and wonder, “How did I even get here? Is this what I really want? Do I like my life? Am I happy?"
In many ways I feel as if I was given a fresh start — a blank canvas where I got to intentionally re-build my day-to-day experience from the ground up.
I totally resisted it at first. I was antsy and tried to find ways to still “be productive." I was shocked to discover that I felt kind of lost without so much to do. It was uncomfortable…until it wasn’t. Once I stopped resisting it, it was actually freeing.
With time, practice, and the release of some long-held judgments, I began to accept — and truly appreciate — this new way of operating. My days went from feeling directionless to feeling expansive and open.
Here’s what happened: I was reminded of what I value most in life — my relationships. Relationships with family, friends, and clients — not to mention my relationship with myself. I remembered that I want to spend my days connecting with all of the people I love, and prioritizing self care.
I realized how easy it is to get caught up in the “busyness” cycle…and how, when I was “busy,” I often put tasks that mattered to me at the bottom of my list. Things like spontaneous trips to the beach with my love. Calling friends for long, leisurely chats. Finally reading that article someone sent me months ago. Diving into the mind-expanding book that so many of my peers had recommended. Meditating. Spending time outdoors, surrounded by blooming flowers. Basking in the sun. And pausing to check in with myself before committing to anything.
I’ve learned that you miss out on quite a bit when you’re moving so quickly through life. For instance, while I was getting around slower on crutches, I was much more aware of my surroundings each time I was outside: how the clouds looked, how the air smelled, how the wind was blowing that day, and how green the plants looked post-rain.
I’m no longer on crutches, but the value in slowing down is something I continue to embrace — and something I hope to never forget. When I slow down, I’m more present to those around me, make more eye contact with strangers and find myself having more conversations everywhere I go. I eat slower, so I eat less and enjoy what I’m eating more. And now that I’m driving again, I love time in the car! It’s an experience, not just a means of getting from Point A to Point B.
I still love the feeling of getting in the zone and being productive, but when I am in “doer” mode these days, I have way more energy available. My batteries are recharged, and my soul is nourished.
Now I only hustle for the relationships, projects, and commitments that really matter to me. And the rest of the time, for the first time, I am able to let myself just be.