I spent a lot of my life in “getting somewhere” mode. I was focusing on what needed to be done in order to arrive at some place, space or time in future that would ALLOW me to finally relax and be at peace, to then be able to simply ENJOY what I'd created.
As I'm a naturally super organized “make it happen” person, for most of my life this “getting somewhere” syndrome became even more of a problem, because I thrive on having projects (personally or professionally). So I always had something occupying me, something to build, something to work towards, as that is what lights me up. Unfortunately, while that serves me in many ways, it also majorly limits me in that I can get lost in that sense of needing to complete those things BEFORE I'll feel completely at ease and able to relax.
It always sounds so funny to me when I speak my realizations aloud like this, and see from the outside looking in how absurd my misperceptions have been. For years while I was positively creating major life changes that served me and lit up my soul (eg switching career lanes, moving countries around the world, growing my business), I think I was still subconsciously seeing my life as a journey “to arrive somewhere” where I would finally have MORE of something (clarity, networks, resources, soul-alignment, stability, income, inner peace and the list goes on). That “more of something” represented to me a point in time when I could finally breathe more easily and just chill out… just be… just live without anything to create or anywhere to get to.
Then, of course, I finally realized that there is literally nothing to create before you can rest easy, nowhere to literally and physically be before you can just simply enjoy the days of your life, and things will NEVER be “perfect”.
There is NEVER a point when everything is ideally lined up and there is nothing to do, to resolve, no challenges to overcome, no creative inspirations to be acted upon, no growth to embrace, no opportunity to step into.
This realization was brought back to me recently when I spoke with several people who all echoed the same trap… such as needing to take care of demands and as a result having to sideline their wellbeing, rest and personal rituals. Or having to cope with the negativity of others and feeling like you're in survival mode fighting off artillery, just keeping your head above water – ready to be happier or more at peace somewhere down the track, ready to regain some physical, mental and emotional balance at some future point “when life eases up”.
But here is the thing…
Life doesn't ever ease up. This is life.
The days of our lives will always be filled with many colors…
Some colors are things unresolved. Some colors are projects underway. Some colors are goals/dreams. Some colors are dark and mysterious and have us feeling slightly uneasy about something. Some colors are exciting experiences and outcomes. Some colors are the loved ones we have around us always. Some colors are the quiet moments when we relish just being. The colors are ALL THERE, always.
We must come to accept the full spectrum of color in our life, that it is always present, and realize that inner peace, enjoying the small moments, resting, laughing and being present are NOT experiences reserved for some future moment when “life is easier”.
We must allow ourselves permission to not rush, to not race, to not try to get to the end of anything BEFORE we give ourselves permission to care for ourselves. We must not sideline our wellness, our bodies, our souls, our relationships or this planet because we are too busy.
For if we do not slow down and experience what we desire (peace and happiness) NOW, then we may reach our final day alive on this planet and realize we spent most of our life trying to get further ahead, only to have raced onward to the end of our days while missing out on the entire journey of thousands of small moments where the real meaning lay!
But Isn't Action Key to Getting Results?!
Our civilization is progressive by nature. We are evolutionary beings. Most of us have been conditioned to associate ACTION with progress.
We have not been taught to value stillness, down-time, rituals, joy and slower pace as actually being KEY to not only our overall inner state of personal satisfaction but perhaps more importantly as being key to our overall performance and productivity in being the best we can be personally and professionally!
Everything is pointing this way… leading edge personal growth teachings are calling for people to remember that we can thrive externally when we care for ourselves in balance and stay present in the small moments. Spiritual teachings are reminding us that how we are being is more important than what we are doing. High performance coaching often integrates meditation, self awareness and taking care of our health as key to being able to perform at our best!
Doing, pushing, keeping busy, and not stopping until you get what you want are no longer effective ways of generating your outcomes. Action is still key and always will be, but now more than ever it is balance of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual states, plus heart-led choices that are the true powerhouse behind sustainable peace, happiness and success.
But I Simply Don't Have Time for Slowing Down
If you think you can't afford to slow down, you need to realize you can't afford NOT to slow down.
In fact if the idea of “not having enough time” rises up from within you, then you needed to read this blog more than anyone else. And I understand that, because I was just like you only a few years ago… always stuck in the notion “there isn't enough time”.
A few years ago I was doing yoga and meditation at a retreat I was running in Bali. And later that day I got chatting to a man who had seen me doing that.
He told me he had 2 small children, a busy job, financial pressures and he was smoking heavily as we chatted.
He had a look of sadness in his eyes as he spoke to me. I could tell he had been processing the idea of yoga and meditation, processing the fact some people take time to balance themselves, to practice rituals for inner peace, to find a small space of quiet to access the most important part of themselves.
And he said to me…
“That's good for some people. But that's only possible when you don't have other things you must do. Me… I'm too busy with my job, kids and I have too much to worry about for sitting down doing meditation and yoga. Maybe one day when I have less things to do and less worries, less stress and more money and the children are grown up, then I can start to do those things too”.
What I saw from this conversation, and what is MOST IMPORTANT to realize, is that every person on this planet can CHOOSE their own inner peace and to practice simple tools to help themselves, or they can CHOOSE to say it is not possible for them.
It is not easy for every person, based on their commitments, resources, daily demands, but it is always available in some form.
It is a choice, a perspective, a way of looking at life, a way of being. I share my ideas with as many people as possible, including at the time with this man, to help people see that you don't have to wait for some day in the future and you don't need a lot of time to slow down and recalibrate…
- Practicing your inner peace can be 5 minutes of eyes-closed stillness and breathing, instead of 5 minutes of worrying.
- Energizing yourself and bringing positivity to your emotional state can be 5 minutes of conscious gratitude for the small things, instead of 5 minutes of looking at what doesn't work in your life.
- Living a balanced life can be 5 minutes engaged in a meaningful or spiritual ritual to start and/or end your day, instead of 5 minutes defaulting into a negative habit.
Again, it's not always easy. However, the more we stay within the notion that inner peace is not possible for XYZ reasons, or that balance and reduction of stress are reserved for some future time when circumstances are different, is the moment we give away our personal power and victimize ourselves.
Granted some circumstances make it challenging to be “happy”, but inner peace is possible always! Peace is available even in the most demanding, challenging and direst of situations, because inner peace is a perspective of allowing, of faith, of choosing to find a space of stillness amid external chaos.
So I'm Practising What I Preach
I say to myself regularly, “Slow down B, smell the roses, go with the flow.”
I stick consistently to my daily rituals (my “Life Anchors”) and they consistently serve me loyally to keep perspective and balance.
And, I've made a commitment to not be working every day, because the trap when you're self-employed and work from home, and you love what you do, is that you can easily end up working every day and all hours of the day and night! It's not necessarily that I never take breaks as I have a wonderful schedule of flexibility, but if you even do a little bit of work every morning and every afternoon 7 days a week and never have a total break from it, then it starts to consume you. You can end up trying to fit your life around your commitments, instead of your commitments around your life!
‘Don't get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.' – Dolly Parton
So my focus is on having entire days with no work of any nature, and using my days off to explore, to do something different, to get up and away from my work environment, to relax, to embrace being alive, to be with nature, to do things that bring me joy or to be fully present with people I love to be around.
What about you?
- What is your focus?
- What are your priorities?
- Do you need to slow down and give yourself permission to have more rest, more balance, more focus on your wellbeing?
Let me know in the comments below.