Two questions flooded my childhood: What difference will you make? How will you leave your mark? The desire to answer definitively is ingrained in my subconscious. I imagine I am not the only one who feels this way. These two fateful questions remind us to be productive and to always better ourselves; to do this, and to join that. So, we set out to make goals, create routines, and assign deadlines to our tasks. We let our routines consume our lives and sometimes, our initial motives become lost. We forget what we are working towards and form the idea that we are working towards something better. After all, isn’t the grass always greener on the other side? While this certainly is not always the case, the routines we develop shield us from this obvious truth and leave us always wanting more. That is why it is important to slow down and figure out what it is you are seeking. I mean, in the end, aren’t we all just striving to be happy?
Yet, it is impossible to be happy if you are constantly rushing. Thus, the importance of slowing down becomes especially evident. If you really want to change your life or simply achieve your goals, you must sit down and evaluate. Consider what you are doing and the motives for your goals and daily tasks. Ask yourself if your objectives reflect what you want or what society demands. Yes, it is easy to be productive and to do a billion things each day and you will most likely receive praise for being so busy. But it is impossible to grow or achieve anything of matter if you are just racing through each task just so you can appear hard-working. Rather than create an endless to do list filled with activities that take away from what you really want to achieve, do something you love that allows you to see your personal growth. Lofty meaningful goals can take years to achieve, and we are so often under the impression that we must see immediate results. Eradicate this impression and continue the quest to attain what will have significance in your life… even if it takes years.
Now, it can be difficult adapting to a slower paced lifestyle especially when surrounded by a culture that is constantly rushing. However, I have collected a few tips that have helped me to better implement this lifestyle. Beware that some may be cliché, but I promise they can help.
Notice the small things. Seriously, whether it is the fact that your pen is making your handwriting look all pretty or you just hit three green lights in a row, appreciating small things can bring instant joy.
Stop Comparing. Comparing yourself to others is arguably the worst thing you can do to yourself. Instead of partaking in activities to better yourself, you will just be participating to get ahead of others. Accept that you can only be yourself and learn to love your gifts and talents.
Stop Planning Everything! Plan what you need to but do not write out your day down to a tee. You don’t want to restrict or limit yourself from partaking in events because your schedule is constantly full. Sometimes the best moments are the ones that are spontaneous.
Take Time to Reflect. Journaling is a great way to evaluate yourself and your life. It forces you to slow down and see what you have done each day. Even on your Smartphone, you can document how you are feeling and see your personal growth.
As a graduating senior, I know how difficult it can be to slow down. I remember my freshman self, constantly in a rush and refusing to ever remove my puffy North Face Parka. Boy, I needed these tips desperately. I scurried down the locker lined halls, occasionally tripping when faced with a set of stairs. My eyes were always glued to the floor, partly because my massive backpack forced me to take the shape of a hunchback and partly to avoid eye contact with the seemingly scary seniors. My mind was constantly ticking, worrying, wondering, and comparing. I failed to see my achievements, because I based my success on how I was doing in comparison to others. I always came out as a flop. But then, something changed. A glimmer appeared in my eyes and suddenly, my backpack became lighter. What I had done was learn how to slow down and actually enjoy my life and myself. I started to devote time to pursuing my passions instead of watching the clock. From there, well, from there I flourished. I became the person I am today, a person of confidence, passion, and good posture.