Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The 'Art of Slowing Down' - As A Goal-Oriented Person // Reflections

I read this article Friday morning and it really resonated with me.
As a goal oriented person I make goals and lists for everything. (I'm sure you've noticed, there is a whole tab dedicated to goals on this blog!) But sometimes, even for less goal oriented people it is easy to fall into the trap of 'Hurry to get it all done'. -- often to the point of feeling too rushed to enjoy anything at all.

We live in a society where we know so much. We have access to any information at our fingertips. We know what people are doing, saying, achieving, photographing at all times. Because of that, many of us naturally feel the need to 'achieve' more. So we make our lists, we rush, we feel bad when we can't check things off. We feel bad when we miss an event, a deadline, a social gathering. We don't understand why we can't do it all.

The truth is. We can't do it all. And that's ok.

Maybe instead of focusing on doing, seeing, being it all, we should focus more on doing, seeing, being it well. Instead of attempting to fit every social engagement in on a weekend and feeling like you didn't actually get to see or talk to anyone, why not pick just a few (or one!) and really enjoy the time you are spending with the people you are seeing? Instead of vowing to see every piece of art in a huge museum in one day, why not take your time? Why not take the time to actually see what's there? If you've got a list of goals, why not use them to inspire you in your free time, rather than letting them lead you into a mad dash to the 'finish line' when you are already busy? -What's the point in doing it all, when you aren't doing any of it well?

If your goal is to listen to every single song on your favorite album in an hour, while you make a grocery list, read an article, and pay your bills, are you really going to enjoy it? Will you really hear any of the music? Will you catch your favorite lyrics? Will you dance or sing? --probably not. To that end, your grocery list will probably be missing an item, you may not remember the article very well, and you could have forgotten a bill. None of this is good.
Being a highly goal oriented person I struggle with this. I want to do so much. I want to fit it all in. I want to see every country in the world. Ready every classic novel. Host three different types of parties for every holiday. -- but when I rush through these things, try to fit it all in, it just isn't fun. I don't get to put the care, detail, and enthusiasm into my planning, reading, or traveling. That is half of what makes our goals and interests fun, the ability to go all out on something, to have that much passion about it. I don't know about you guys, but when I try to do so many things at once I don't have any energy left to be passionate.
Perhaps this was part of the reason our Seattle trip was so stressful for me. We had an idea of what we wanted to see. Lists of options so we could decide what to do depending on what sounded fun on a given day. We had the addresses. But everything took longer than we expected. Part of that was lack of preparation for public transit, part of that was just that public transit is slower than having your own car, but a bigger part may have been the pressure that we felt to do everything. And when we couldn't do everything, or even as much as we reasonably thought we could, it was easy to feel like we failed. Was it a rough trip either way? -yes. Was it a failure? -no. Did I still feel like it was? -yes. But that is because of that pressure. The feeling that I needed to do it all, and do it all well. But, that just isn't possible to do everything and do it all well. Maybe sometimes, maybe over more time. But I had such a hard time accepting that it wasn't possible, or that our trying was making it more difficult.
Looking back on our trip, viewing our photos this week I have been smiling. I think to myself, 'What a fun place we visited! What a great meal that was! What a beautiful city we experienced!' When I'm thinking these things I'm noticing that these thoughts come mostly from the places where we truly stopped to enjoy what was around us. The meal that lasted for hours and hours. The long morning wandering through the sculpture park. Enjoying the view of the BC parliament building at night as we walked from a late dinner back to our hotel. Sitting at the Seattle Asian Art Museum to watch the video works created by Chen Shaoxiong's Ink. History. Media. ink drawings. It wasn't the mad dash through the market when we should have stopped to eat lunch and rest our feet first. It wasn't trying to hurry through the shops in Fremont so we could get to Ballard more quickly and be too tired to see much.Taking our time, slowing down, savoring those moments, even when we saw less was so much better than all of the rushing.

I also realized that Victoria was much less stressful than Seattle for me. Part of that was that it is a very walkable city. But the other part is that we planned as we went that certain things were just not going to fit into the amount of time that we had. What a revelation right? We didn't have to do everything.
So, here I am thinking about my week, my weekend, and the rest of the month. What will I choose to do? I want to choose to savor. Because I would rather do less things and truly enjoy them than try to fit it all in and be exhausted. Wouldn't you?

Here's to being more intentional about savoring our time this week, weekend, month etc.!

What do you think?

Are you more of a rusher, or a savor-er?

Do you also have a hard time slowing down?

What are your strategies for savoring the moment?

Thank you for reading,



  1. I definitely can resonate with this. I constantly feel like I'm not doing enough and always have a super long to do list. It's gotten better when it comes to travel. I'm okay missing out on certain things as long as I see and do the things that are high on my priority list. That's what it really comes down to I guess. Recognizing you can't do it all and prioritizing. Need to do that with the rest of my life!The other day, I was reading an article on work & productivity and its whole premise was "doing as little as possible as well as possible." Gonna try and stick to that.

  2. Wow that sounds like an interesting article. I'm glad you liked this post! I enjoyed reading yours too. It is just so relevant these days, we all hurry too much. Especially those of us juggling multiple jobs and priorities. Good luck, so far I have had to tell myself a few times to slow down and make less plans. It's tough, but it will work out. :) Practice right? XO-Alexandra


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