What Happens if You Slow Down?

What Happens if You Slow Down?
Drawing c. 1915 by Charlie Hammond, artist (1870-1953) via State Library Victoria 

In a forum that we are both members of, Sharon asked the question “What happens when you slow down?”

She was referring to our tendency as small business operators to scurry about the place like ants trying to get everything done. Just as good enough and as quickly as possible. She asked, in the spirit of slow food, how would our lives be different if we slow down and do less rather than more.

Interestingly enough, not everyone understood the question. Or perhaps that was just me. I thought Sharon was asking whether the journey or the destination was the important thing. After all, many people start a business because they want to work on their own terms. They fondly imagine something more relaxed than what often becomes more torturous than staying employed by someone else!

Is it better to build your business slowly, and enjoy the ride, or to “hustle” so you can enjoy the result?

I was thinking along these lines when I asked “Would You Really Do Anything?” to achieve your goal. And I still believe that the journey is the most important part. When you slow cook, you have the benefits of lower costs and more time to savour the mouthwatering aroma of dinner. Similarly, when you slow down, you have the opportunity to savour each moment as it passes.

Unless you are cleaning up dog puke, in which case you should speed up and go as fast as you can!

There is no doubt that some things are unpleasant, and your natural tendency is to want to get them over and done with as quickly as possible. Things like the dog puke, doing your taxes, and breaking up with someone. But according to Leo Babauta, there is happiness even in the unhappiest of circumstance. Allowing yourself to feel unhappy, or in pain, acknowledges that you are alive. And if you are alive, you are supported by millions of people you will never meet (even if they are just the people on the production line manufacturing your carpet cleaner).

You can choose to agree with me and James Reyne “any day above ground is a good day.”

In my upcoming book Holistic Personal Finance, I talk about developing your own vision, mission and virtues and using them to guide your journey. Your working life is just practice for your retirement; you need to develop the health, financial and lifestyle skills and habits that will sustain you for the next forty or so years after you quit work. And if you are working 120 hours a week now, what are you going to do with them the day after you stop work? Where do the dogs, and kids, and trips to the beach fit in?

I am fortunate that as a writer and editor, my work is already slow work. If I took better care of my Occupational Health and Safety, it would be even slower as I took regular breaks. My health would probably be better because I would drink more water, and take micro walks during those breaks. I might sit at the table to eat lunch like a grown-up rather than at my desk or in front of the tv. Maybe I would ring someone for a short chat, or hand write a quick card.

What do you think will happen if you slow down at work, and enjoy the journey rather than focussing on the destination?

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