Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. LAO TZU
You have one life. Rush it, and you will miss it. That’s the #1 reason to slow down.
Simplistic, but true: a truth I realised after I turned forty. While I raised a glass to the glory of my life on this beautiful planet, I tried to fathom where four decades had gone. I guess most of us get a bit reflective at the milestones of our life.
These questions popped the cherry of life after forty, for me:
Who am I rushing for?
Whose agenda am I busy for?
When am I going to enjoy my time with my children, who are nearly double numbers in age already; or with my partner and lover, who is (err hm) way past forty already?
At what point do I get to live my life, instead of living ‘busy’?
Do you ever ask yourself these questions, or feel like you’re living someone else’s life and schedule?
My partner was asking the same questions as I was while I reached my milestone. So, soon after my fortieth, our school free journey started. We began questioning the way we did our lives. The things we’d been taught to accept. What our authentic values were, and when we might begin living authentic lives.
We weren’t sure about all the answers, but we decided on this answer to our final question:
Now. We would begin living authentic lives, now.
To change our lives Now, we had to stop, look around and get our bearings. That’s when we discovered slow, and made it an integral goal in our lives.
Letting go of busy.
Finding slow meant breaking the bonds we held with ‘busy’. I’m not sure that I’ve ever been hugely productive or busy (insert: blush), but I’ve tried to be. Because busy is holy, right? Busy shows good character.
Our current systems for living have us addicted to productivity, being busy, and getting things done.
We’re over-anxious, over-stressed and over-stretched. Even those of us who aren’t slave to busy are overwhelmed with the rush around us, and with the requirement to be busy.
And here’s the truth. Three truths, in fact:
- Productivity has no bearing on your value, or your happiness.
- ‘Busy’ means depleted time for yourself, your family, your community, your planet, your life.
- Many things on the daily (hourly) to-do list simply don’t need to be done.
Here are a few more truths:
Your productivity is not your worth.
You have worth. You don’t need to do anything to earn it; it’s inbuilt. A natural part of you.
You can get a lot of jobs done yet have very little impact or engagement with your life. You can do nothing but be present, and have a huge amount of impact and engagement with life, and those around you.
I’m not sure who assigned value to productivity. Is it warranted? Are you prepared to be measured by it? I asked myself this. And I’m not.
‘Busy’ is about someone else’s schedule.
Not to sound like a lefty, but our western society is a made-up entity. Someone put a set of fast wheels on it years ago, and those wheels haven’t stopped turning. You don’t have to get in the car. At least, you don’t have to stay in the speeding car. You can get out, and hail a slow one. You can stop, take stock, and decide on your own direction and pace.
We’re so caught up in the speed of things that sometimes we forget to stop and before we know it, whole chunks of our life is lost to ‘busy’. (Err hm, like, four decades.) You don’t have to buy into ‘busy’. You can give your coin to something else, instead.
Most of us are letting someone else set our to-do list?
Who identifies your priorities? Too often, we accept someone else’s to-do list, instead of our own. Even spookier is the fact that our daily lists aren’t always even set by a someone. Many to-do’s have arrived in our lives as a matter of learned habit or routine, and no one’s questioned them. You can.
Is this to-do important to my life’s purpose?
Is this to-do going to benefit those who I love?
Does this to-do align with my values, or the things I aspire to?
Am I prepared to do a task right now?
Here’s an order of priorities to keep in mind while you’re trying to find slow:
1. The number one priority is you, your time, and your life.
Ouch. As a mother, I wince while I write this. Shouldn’t your family and your children come first?
I don’t think so, no (insert: more blush).
There’s no use half a mother showing up when her children need her. Your loved ones deserve the whole you. The one who’s complete. The one who hasn’t been busied away. Or depleted through lack of care and down time.
You can give your kids the last yummy vegetable on your plate if they’re still hungry. You’ll want to. You get to. Whatever you do though, don’t give them a depleted you. Take care of you. First priority. After all, everything your kids learn about self-care, they’ll learn from you. Set a healthy example.
I can’t give you your number 2, 3, 4 or 5 priority. Who am I to prioritise your life?
To prioritise everything else, ask yourself one question: How much does this priority cost?
I’m not talking money, I’m talking life.
What is the cost to your life of the thing you are assigning priority to?
- When I assign priority to my children and loved ones, this doesn’t cost me anything. Nothing that isn’t a valuable personal investment, anyway.
- When I assign priority to my passions, this adds value to my life.
- When I assign priority to participating in caring for the planet, I get a sense of accomplishing something that I believe in.
- When I assign priority to achieving someone else’s goals that don’t align with mine, it costs me time, energy and enjoyment. Doing this takes value away from my life. So I don’t.
Make your priorities yours.
If you’re going to balance a list of daily priorities, make it two or three. Make those priorities meaningful. Make them yours. Make sure you’ll smile about them at the time, and while you take your final breath.
The rise of entrepreneurship tells me that I’m not the only one unwilling to buy into society’s busy and rush. It’s not only off grid alternatives like me who want to smell the roses, plant the roses, and take time to make potpourri or handmade soap from the damned rose petals too, if we please.
Think about this beautiful planet. The ocean stays still and silent for hours on end, yet every pebble that reaches its shore is meticulously polished and washed.
Here you are, in your one beautiful life. Don’t let it fly away from you. Breathe it in. Yes, I’ve written a whole post about breathing. I’ll leave the blush bit out, you get the picture…
Claim your life. Right? Live a little more closely with the pace of nature. Slow down, and savour.