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Rushing: How Speeding Up Slows You Down

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Bill: We’re so thrilled to be here today, bringing you the highlights of an intense competition. 

Bob: I’ve gotta tell ya, Bill, you’re in for a treat. You don’t see something like this every day. We’ve got the best of the best here, showing off skills honed through decades of practice. It’s truly remarkable. 

Bill: Well, let’s get to it. Oh my goodness, she’s already off and running! Almost before the starting gun!

Bob: She’s dedicated. Always looking for the extra edge, ways to shave mere milliseconds off her time. 

Bill: She’s in the water first… whoa, look out! Did you see that turn? Like lightning!

Bob: I’m telling you, her training the last few years has been intense. Up early, focused, driven. You can tell how badly she wants this record. 

Bill: It’s unbelievable! She’s moving so quickly you almost can’t even see her!

Bob: And look at that, she’s already out of the water and into the land portion of the competition. Unreal!

Bill: The Russians really have their work cut out for them to come even CLOSE to this level of performance. 

Bob: That’s right, Bill, we are truly watching a master. 

No, you’re not listening to commentary from a world class triathlon.

These are merely the commentators in my head as I rush through my morning shower every day. 

I’m a world class rusher, a gold medal seeking doer-of-things-quickly. And yes, while Bob and Bill are a bit of an exaggeration in my psyche, I’ve often found myself doing every day tasks as if they were some sort of competition–how quickly can I dry my hair? Send this email? Drop off those errands before getting the kids? Is anybody watching this?? Look at me go!  

Maybe you can relate. 

I feel like “rush” is my default setting.

I’m not sure who told me that doing things faster is better, maybe it’s just a lesson I picked up from society, but I’ve always trended toward pushing the gas pedal down on my life, even in areas that don’t really matter, like the aforementioned shower. 

When I taught middle school, one of my favorite mentor teachers was named Joe. A former marine, Joe stood well over six feet tall and his unshakable, calm demeanor endeared him to students and teachers alike. He was the kind of teacher who requested that students with behavior problems be placed in his class, and it was like magic, watching those kids sit quietly under Joe’s spell.

Like all great teachers, Joe had a seemingly endless bag of tricks to pull from, and one of my favorites was his schtick with kids he caught running in the hall. 

Joe would gently stop them and ask where they were going. Then he might ask about their day, what they had for breakfast, if those were new shoes. He would watch them begin to get agitated with the delay.

Then in his calm, slow voice, he would say, “Did you know… that when you run it actually takes you longer to get places than when you walk?” 

The kids would, of course, look at him in confusion.

Then Joe would land the punchline, “Because when you run… you have to stop and talk to me.” 

At this, the kids usually smiled sheepishly and Joe let them go on their way, walking slowly. 

When you run, it takes you longer to get where you’re going. 

Outside of the realm of Joe’s hallway, is this true? 

Let’s take a look back at that morning shower. This is a typical rushing moment of my day… it doesn’t feel like an important or significant activity, just something I have to do in order to show up as a presentable human. So I rush through it, mindlessly, thinking of nothing but what comes next… my workday, a client call, getting the kids to school on time. I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing, all I’m worried about is doing it quickly so I can move on to the next thing. 

But then I get to that next thing and I find myself in the same pattern… rushing my kids out the door and off to school, rushing through my email, rushing to get the client call done so I can do the next thing and the next thing and the next. 

I rush and rush so that I can finally get… where, exactly? 

I think that’s the biggest lesson in Joe’s example. Remember the first question he asked the kids, “Where are you going?” 

When I find myself rushing through my life, it might be best to stop and take a moment to think about the destination I’m headed toward.

Where do I really want to go in my life?

Here’s a short list of the big places I want end up: 

A successful career. 

Solid, meaningful relationships. 

Financial independence. 

Physical health. 

A feeling of peace with my life and pride in myself.  

I would imagine that the big places you’re trying to get to are probably similar. And what we don’t realize is…

When we rush through our lives, it takes us longer to get where we’re going.

In fact, I’d argue–and Joe would probably agree–that rushing may prevent us from ever getting there at all.

So if you find yourself rushing today, I encourage you to ask yourself 2 questions:

1. Where am I really trying to go?

2. Is rushing helping me get there?

And after you’ve thought about that for a moment, see if you can take a breath, smile, slow your run to a walk, and enjoy the moment you’re in, exactly as it is.

Joe would be proud.

To less rushing and more enjoying…

PS One of the best ways to slow down your life is to declutter your stuff. If you’re ready, grab my FREE Simplicity Starter Guide and start today!

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