Five Reasons We Can’t Slow Down
'Crazy-busy' is a great armour, it's a great way for numbing. What a lot of us do is that we stay so busy, and so out in front of our life, that the truth of how we're feeling and what we really need can't catch up with us. Brene Brown
Why don’t we feel we can create the space we need to? Here are five reasons:
- We think we can’t afford to
The tension of negative consequences - having an unfinished to-do list, or the risk of letting someone down - can be unbearable. When we perceive the cost of stopping is higher than the cost of keeping on going, of course we’ll keep going. In a system where doing more is the expected norm, this is a major challenge. Yet when we accept that life’s to-do list is never ending, and we’ll always have to manage others’ expectations, we can begin to see that taking some time out, and playing the long game is a smarter strategy.
- The fear of missing out
FOMO can be a massive driver of hurriedness. When I’m experiencing FOMO, it’s often driven by a need to be relevant, to be informed, to be in control. It leads to an over-stretched calendar and an over-full mind. Rather than experiencing FOMO, trying cultivating JOMO - the joy of missing out. Check out Tim Ferriss’ interview with Basecamp founder Jason Fried for more on the benefits of this idea (skip to 28:24 for the details).
- Life’s too short
When I was in my 20’s, the movie Dead Poets Society had a huge impact on how I lived my life. ‘Seize the day’ became my mantra and I lived it hard. With one life to live, I didn’t want to waste a minute of it. The thing was, I didn’t value, nor prioritise, downtime. That was fine while I was younger and ‘bombproof’, yet as I’ve gotten older, living by that mantra is exhausting. Now my mantra has become ‘design the day’.
- We love the buzz
There’s something about rushing that gives me a rush. I suspect that’s true for many of us. The adrenaline jolt that comes with pushing it hard is addictive. Yet like any addiction, it has its shadow side. We increasingly find ways to get more of it, and find ways to prop us up (coffee, dramas) when it’s not on tap. Learn to replace the buzz of busy with savouring the slow.
- We fear the void
Years ago I did Outward Bound. Part of the 11-day adventure was three days and two nights ‘solo’ in the bush. I was camped at least one kilometre from the nearest person, and wasn’t allowed to leave my 10 metre perimeter the whole time. As you can imagine, there wasn’t a whole lot to do in that tiny space. I loved it, yet most of my colleagues hated it. By their own admission, the void of doing nothing was too much for them to stomach. As coach Jerry Colonna says, ‘we take meaning from motion.’ When we take away the motion, what happens to the meaning? This is a challenge for all of us to meet and master.
Which of these reasons most resonates with you? And what others have I missed?