Giving yourself permission to slow down

There is no denying we live in a fast-paced world. Work, home, and extracurricular activities place a demand on our time. Add to that the demand we internally place on ourselves. This is a fundamental problem that we need to understand. Too many demands can make for an unhappy person.

I am almost finished reading An Accidental Athlete by John Bingham. This has been an enjoyable book. I find that it is applicable to my life beyond the central focus on running. It is really a lesson on how to value yourself and not be held back by others and your own devices.  In the following paragraph from his book, John Bingham talks about the relationship of goals and expectations to happiness.

“I’ve never looked at another person and said he or she should go slower. I’ve said that when runners aren’t happy with their running and racing, it may be because their expectations are unrealistic, and by simply resetting their goals they could find greater satisfaction. That’s true. And it’s often true that giving yourself permission to slow down will make you a much happier person” – John Bingham, An Accidental Athlete

Goal setting is hard work when it is done properly. I spent a good solid two months looking at my goals in my annual wellness visioning process. It wasn’t a 24X7 thing but did have me revisiting goals and reevaluating goals over this period of time. I was walking that fine line between goals being too weak and unchallenging and being to unrealistic and self-defeating.

Goals should challenge you to grow. As the author of this book points out, it’s thru this constant challenge that you expand and achieve even greater goals. I like the concept of baby step goals. One small step at a time gets you farther down the road than you ever expected. Before you know it, you have achieved a major goal.

Most of us are guilty of setting unrealistic expectations. My personality type drives me to exceed and not settle for anything less than success. I am my worst enemy in this symbiotic relationship between goals and expectations.  The method I use to overcome my overachiever tendencies is to make a list of pros and cons for the goal. It won’t become a final goal until the pros outweigh the cons. This process requires me to dig deeper and invest myself fully in the conversation. Often the pros are uncomfortable and difficult to attain. The bottom line is I take personal ownership of my goals.

Slowing down is hard for me. If you know me, you know that I love juggling multiple projects simultaneously. I love the challenge of piecing together complex solutions and putting the logistics of the solution into place. Fast, fast, fast is the pace I love to work in. Six years ago I had a heart attack and almost four years ago I changed my life with bariatric surgery to lead a happier more active life. These two events have forced me to evaluate the intensity, tension and stress in my life.

Today, I find myself living in a fast paced life but I temper it with enjoyment. I have filtered out the things that really did not contribute to my health and happiness. I have found that I can be happy and busy if I am involved in activities that bring happiness to my life. That is a pretty simple rule by which to live your life. I talk about happiness often… happiness is often overlooked and undervalued when assessing what makes you a healthy person.

John Bingham has it right. You must give yourself permission to slow down which makes you a much happier person. I can tell you that it is not an overnight solution. It has taken me several years. I fully invest and commit myself to the process. As time passes by, I get better at knowing how fast I can run and not run out of steam. Make no mistake, I occasionally run with scissors to add a little excitement. Give yourself that permission to slow down and you will be running down the road to health and happiness.

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