There are times in my life that I find myself rushing from one thing to the next. It’s almost as if I’m associating my self-worth with my ability to be busy all the time. Lately, thanks to business being good, I find I’m in that mode of busyness a lot. The problem is, as I talked about in my post last week, some things which are important to me, like writing, start falling by the wayside. I find I eventually get to the point where it feels a little overwhelming, and I just want to put everything on pause.

A reminder to slow down

It’s not unusual for me to ‘work’ most days of the week. You might consider it one of the drawbacks of being self-employed. However, when I’m really in the mindset of being free, powerful and at choice, it doesn’t feel like working. It just feels like I’m living my life in the most fulfilling way possible.

Sometimes fulfilling means sitting down with my laptop on a Saturday morning and writing a blog post or getting caught up on some of the administrative needs of my company. Other times it means turning off my computer and phone, and going for a walk with Rosie and Bree or deciding to take a day off to do some work around the house.

Whatever it is I find myself doing, I love the lifestyle that comes with choosing to be self-employed. That I want to talk about the times, I find myself becoming overwhelmed. The overwhelm happens when I get busy, and I start to prioritize work over all other things.

I was heading down this path again. There are so many things I could point to as contributing to this feeling. I’m certainly not complaining about this, as I choose to have every single bit of my busyness. Frankly, if I don’t want it, then I get it out of my life.

The reason I know this is true is I’ve been letting some of my personal practices slip. I haven’t been exercising as much or taking as much time for meditation or journalling. If you read my post last week, it’s also one of the contributing factors to why I haven’t been doing as much writing the past few months.

Slowing down

When I’m so busy rushing through my life I know, there’s lots of little things I’m missing. Even if I’m feeling like things are going incredible, if my mind is busy racing at a thousand words per minute, I know I’m not going to appreciate the little things along the way which help me feel whole.

Last week I was at a retreat centre for a coaching retreat. The retreat centre is on the shore of Puget Sound, just south of Seattle. It’s a beautiful spot surrounded by a forest, and with beautiful grounds where you can stroll up to the shoreline. It was here I found the opportunity to slow things down. It’s one of the benefits and the point of going away to a retreat centre.

One morning after it rained, I was meandering around the grounds and taking the time to appreciate the world around me. At that moment I found myself slowing down once more and taking the time to connection with the world around me. I had to capture some of it as best I could to remind myself about slowing down when I need it later. I love how in this picture the beads of water are sitting poised on this leaf. You can almost see the tension between being stuck to the leaf and the constant pull of gravity.

Reflecting on this picture got me thinking how much I miss the little stuff. The stuff you only see when you take a moment to slow down and notice the world around you. It might be the mother with her kids walking down a sidewalk, or the way in which the breeze causes a tree to dance one morning. It might be the passion in the people around you, or sadly the lack of passion.

If I’m so busy rushing through my day trying to get somewhere, more than anything I miss the opportunity to see something in myself. It might be the love I hold in my heart for someone or the profound gratitude of the life I am living. It could be I simply forget an intention I hold for my life, which is to live each moment fully, and not waste time.

When you don’t see the world around you, it’s too easy to get focused on the things we’re doing rather than what’s truly important to you.

Slowing down

As an agent of change, I want to be present for my clients as they do their work. I also want to be more fully present when I’m with my wife, Rosie, family, and friends. I know my relationships are far richer when I allow myself the time to slow things down.

Slowing down requires just that; to slow down. I often hear “I don’t have a chance to slow down as I’m just simply too busy.” Sorry to tell you; this is about being at choice, and the only one keeping you from slowing down a bit is you. Like everything in life, slowing down requires choosing to prioritize some time in your day to be with yourself for a little bit, even if that’s only for 15 minutes. Don’t believe you can afford the time for 15 minutes; then you probably need to make the time to slow down for 30 minutes!

Slowing down doesn’t have to be a big deal, or difficult to achieve. It might be a quiet stroll in the woods appreciating the little things or quietly sitting looking out the window. You may also want to try meditation, and if you don’t know how to meditate just search for “meditation” in the App Store on your phone. Journalling is a great way to slow your mind down too, as I can attest to as my writing gives me such clarity.

Leading for Change

Leading for Change can seem like a demanding way to live your life. I also know from experience it’s the most rewarding way you can choose to live, as you will make a difference in the world. There is no recipe to Leading for Change, and there is a constant need to be able to respond to whatever life throws your way. 

I know from experience, my ability to respond to life is significantly enhanced when I am more present with my thoughts and feelings. Being present with my thoughts and emotions is why it’s so important to me to be in this place of mindfulness and clear about who I am in the world.

What might be possible if your mind wasn’t racing around every day? What if you could have the clarity of thought, and focus on what’s important right now.

If you don’t have a practice of mindfulness already, I challenge you to introduce just 15 minutes of mindfulness in your day for the coming week. Seriously, take just 15 minutes and slow life down. There are plenty of free resources out there which can help you with this. Here are a few hints to get you started:

  • Get an inexpensive journal at the dollar store, find a quiet spot each morning, and just put your pen on the paper. Write without thinking or caring how good it sounds, or how many spelling errors you make.
  • Search for one of the meditation apps on your phone’s app store. I usually recommend “headspace,” as there are ten free meditations, so it doesn’t have to cost you (although the subscription is worth it).
  • Block your work calendar at lunch and go out to the local park for a walk. Just walk at your normal pace. Then, slow your pace down by half. Notice how that feels? Good, now slow it down by half again. Slow it down by half another one or two times until you find yourself strolling slowly, and taking in the little things along the trail.
  • Go onto youtube, and search for meditation. You will find lots of free ones there, suitable for all types of needs and outcomes. Try some of them on for size, and I know you find one that works for you.

Whatever you choose to do in the coming week, I just want you to have some of what I found. Some peace and clarity of mind so you can be more present with the world around you.