If so, I totally understand. I used to get up at 6:00 in the morning, take a 3 minute shower, wolf down some cereal, and hit the road to get to work on time. Once at work, I sat at my desk until noon, ate lunch there, and then worked until 5 or 6:00. Back in the car, sit down to a quick meal, and then park myself on the couch to watch TV for a few hours. Then rinse and repeat, 5 days a week. On weekends, I would sleep in way too late so that half the day was gone, then run a few errands, and then watch some more TV until I went to bed. My life, although I didn’t seem to realize it at the time, was moving in fast-forward and I was not even there to see it. I was not taking the time I needed to be “down” – reading some fiction, sitting on the porch, working on hobbies, enjoying the outdoors. All my time was spent “going” and I was missing out on one of life’s greatest pleasures – slowing down to take stock of your own existence. Things had to change, and so they did – about 2.5 years ago I quit my corporate gig and started working for myself, on my own terms, which I continue to do today. In fact, as I write this it is 2:27pm and I just got back from a hike out by the river. And although there are times when I wish I had “co-workers” to gossip with, I don’t miss the day-in day-out drudgery that used to be my life. There is more I can do, for sure, and I am continuously learning more about experiencing my life the longer I am living on my own terms. But there are a few things I have begun doing again that had been missing from my life for a long time:
- For starters, I have become interested in woodworking again. I don’t have all the necessary tools, but I have enough to get started building little things with scrap wood. I just put the finishing touches on a mirror for our house that I made out of an old broken window I found, and will be hanging it this weekend.
- I have also started playing the guitar again just for fun. I got really bored with it a few years back, and they sat in their cases in the closet waiting for this day to arrive. Sure, my fingers hurt again and there are a few things I forgot, but overall it’s like riding a bike – you don’t really forget how to do it.
- I am now spending time on myself. For too long I avoided doing anything about issues I didn’t want to deal with, but I am too old and this has gone on for too long, so I am doing something about it. Thinking about and working on important subjects is definitely a way to slow down.
- I am trying to read more, and not just non-fiction. I have never been a fan of fictional stories or books, but I realize that by always reading non-fiction, my mind is always working and trying to figure out a way to use what I am reading about for work or blogs or whatever. So I am going to do my best to try to read fiction once in a while to give my brain a rest.
Taking the time to take stock of your life goes a long way towards your mental state and well-being. If you fly through life at full-speed, you are missing all sorts of memories that you could be making. Chasing more money, trying to be “better than” your neighbors, or trying to outdo co-workers and friends only speeds up your life, leaving you less time to do what you want. So, take some time today to sit quietly and think about what you want to do, not what you have to do. And then do it. Learning to slow down takes a lot of work, but it pays off multiple times over. Have you recently started slowing down? How is it working out for you?