Slow down to speed up is one of my all-time favourite miracle-creating distinctions. It is also exactly what I need to hear, even when I don’t want to hear it. It is always the advice I give myself when asking, ‘How could this be even better?’. It is also the answer to almost every time I ask ‘What went wrong?’.
The value of slowing down has been increasingly spouted in a world that seems designed for fast-paced beings. With the right google search, and for the right price, what we desire is one click away. Many of us have several sources of income, because we can or because we feel we have to. And with the prevalence of social media, it is all too tempting to crave and pursue more than our mental bandwidth can handle. We are taught to dream big and to act on those dreams. We are more conscious of our fellow human and environment, and feel compelled to do more. And the sense of urgency is the undercurrent that carries many of us through our days.
So how do we get to where we want to be, faster and more sustainably than ever by actually slowing down? What does it look like to slow down to speed up? It can look like:
Engaging with a deep presence
Wherever you are, be there. Get fascinated. Get obsessed! Find the joy, love, intrigue and wonder in what you are doing. You will do it better than ever and make it an unforgettable learning experience. Oh, and this encompasses the all-powerful concept, ‘One thing at a time!’. There’s a double-whammy for you! That could mean very structured time dedicated to one of your goals. Or it may mean to you only ever having one goal at any given time. Either way, when you have your eye on the prize, allow that to be your only love and pursue it fiercely… and… slowly…
Giving skill building greater priority than the ‘goal’.
Even as you focus on a long-term goal, instead of fixating on a broad achievement, commit to refining the skills and techniques you need to be the person who produces or attains something tangible or ‘memorable’. For a person who is looking to reach a new level in sales, slowing down may look like a month of studying and committing to rapport building. For a martial artist, it may be focusing on precise hip movement for a year in pursuit of a grading or tournament.
Slowing down and paying attention to the details
In peak performance, this means slowing down an action (such as a dance move, a melody, a punch, the pronunciation of a foreign work), physically or through visualisation, to notice every detail that is working to make it work, or not. You can imagine or perhaps relate to that excitement of building a new skill and how tempting it is to ‘skim learn’ it all. Just by slowing down you notice skills that are transferable in that area of expertise. A singer can improve overall breath control by slow-motioning a chorus melody. A gym-goer can be more conscious of which muscles to recruit by trying a move slowly and noticing and misalignments or over-dominant muscles. Slowing down in the literal sense can help you ‘speed up’ your progress.
Making self-care, your non-negotiable priority
If you live a fast-paced life, committed to serving others, personal development and over-achieving, radical self-care may seem like an over-indulgence you can live without. But, when it comes to slowing down in order to speed up it is incredibly important to look after yourself in a way that feels a little over-the-top. That means getting deep rest and down time BEFORE you desperately need it. Committing to preparing healthy meals before the day starts instead of jumping in your car to beat the traffic and then settling for unhealthy take-away later in the day. It means pressing pause on training until an inflamed injury begins to subside. It means scheduling in to see the doctor, naturopath or masseuse before you desperately need it. You will feel, more often, that you can plough forward when you commit to a life of radical self-care that does feel WAY TOO SLOW! And, you’ll be able to achieve more than you ever imagined in a way that is sustainable.
Even though it may not be fun or sexy, playing the long-game involves being consistent. Giving things a bloody good chance to take shape and effect. Slowing down means getting comfortable with consistency. This could mean committing to a rehabilitation program, half an hour of exercise per day, saving X amount of dollars per week and not letting making exceptions become the norm. This will take you from the sense of struggle to one of empowerment, because you are doing what you can, and it WILL have a real pay-off.
Taking time to reflect
Instead of fumbling our way through our days weeks and years, you need time to reflect on and learn from your experiences. Take notes as you have ideas. As for planning, not everything needs a detailed plan, but setting an intention before you begin something can make that time far more meaningful. Spend time considering what you want and how you want it BEFORE you begin building a skill, taking on a project or having an important conversation. It may be a simple as thinking, ‘In this meeting I intend to discover how I can specifically help this person.’ What a powerful guiding point. And after you are done with the meeting, practise or fun day, collate your lessons with an actionable follow-up so that you can make these lessons real for you. There is nothing that feels slower than just sitting and thinking, with or without the pen or paper. But this critical thinking time is where you will come up with those life-changing lessons and ideas that will propel you into something great.
Asking the important questions
Do I need this? Does this align with my goals? What is my body and intuition telling me? How could this be more amazing? Am I being who I need to be? Imagine the progress possible if you afford yourself the slow-down time to do a quick check-in. You could reign yourself in when you slide off the path you envisage for yourself.
Playing the long-game
Underpinning the above it the willingness to wait forever for what you desire. Get comfy. If you knew it would take 20 or 40 years to be there, how would you do it? Slow and steady. With lots of focus, curiosity and love. With attention to detail. It means that you will give yourself more time than you think you need! If you want to achieve a goal in a year, give yourself five. If it’s worth waiting for, it’s important to you. It will mean that you can do it in a way where you can enjoy the process, take care of yourself and build the skills and CHARACTER you need to own it when you get there.
These are a handful of practices that can get you on the path to slowing down. I hope you allow them to change our life forever and for the better.
AND DOWN TO SPECIFICS
Need more specific, real life examples? Here’s how it may work on a day to day basis…
- Give yourself just one important task or focus per day. Put all your energy, love and focus into it and you will do it well, fully and set the foundation for growth in that area.
- Write an intention card and take three deep breaths before changing activities.
- Create an alarm to go off every couple of hours that reminds you who you need to be.
- Pick one skill to develop per month and go nut- slowly and obsessively. Pro tip: When I feel a little ‘bored’ doing the unsexy stuff, I ask ‘What would I do if I were obsessed?’ It always results in me going deeper than ever, and loving the process even more.
- Having a slow ‘critical thinking’ bath every week. Keep a pen and notepad nearby and write down any ideas that arise.
- Eat your breakfast without doing anything else. Chew slowly and notice the flavours. I say ‘Mmmmm’ whenever I eat something because it promotes mindfulness, gratitude and pleasure.
- Don’t go to the gym without factoring a warm up, cool down and stretching into the routine. If you only have a hour allocated, then that’s a half hour of intensive exercise and then rest for warm up and cool down. Remember, we are playing the long game.
- Following and trusting your intuition, even if it seems to take you off track momentarily. Trust that you know what is best for you and that this ‘slowing down’ will eventually unfold in your favour.
If you're curious about how this has worked in my life, my subscribers received an email with a little more detail about where I have learnt to slow down in all facets of my world. You can always subscribe below to get a more personal perspective of these insights, and receive some cool freebies to transform your life.
If you were going to take slowing down to the next level right now, you may think about jotting down a few ways you can transform your day-to-day by planning to be in it for the long-haul. Do it with a cuppa or schedule a bit of time later today to process this so it can change your life forever. You’ll be healthier and happier.
To snail-pacing it!
Love Becky xx
PS. These ideas are just a tiny drop in the pool of slowing down genius! Can you share some of your own examples in the comments?