The tortoise beat the hare
Before I entered into my professional life I was a fulltime household executive (stay-at-home Mom). I held that job title for about three years and before that I was an undergraduate. In the three years since I have started my professional career I have been on a whirlwind ride. I’ve been blessed with amazing individuals and they have all helped me transform some raw material into something pretty cool. Part of that has come from opportunities to do things and go places I would never have seen for myself before. And without tooting my own horn too much I seem to be getting by pretty well partially because I’m driven to achieve. I don’t want to not be involved and I have always been that way. Almost four years into my professional career though that drive has gone from light speed to ludicrous speed*. I’m like the Energizer Bunny on speed.
I just love it too. The controlled chaos of trying to get something finished up quickly. The adrenaline rush of thinking about the possibilities on a project. I just want to go, go, go and not stop (picture a rather short little thing jumping up and down rubbing her hands together with maniacal laughter). Alas, you must stop…
As any good young professional is bound to do I’ve been reading to become more knowledgable about my areas of interest; social media, leadership, communication, information literacy, and other things library. Recently I’ve noticed that any number of books, blogs, conferences, reports, presentations, whatever, talk about slowing down. Admittedly I don’t want to burnout in my early 40’s with my career goals. Not only that but I do believe in a balanced lifestyle and doing that whole “workaholic” thing is not appealing. I have a family and they are my priority. I go to my daughter’s teacher conferences and saw her end of year school performance. I get to my son’s therapy sessions and volunteer at his school. I go on dates with my husband on a semi regular basis and ensure we have time to dream together on a regular basis. Dinnertime is important to my family and I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t there for it. But it can be a challenge for me to slow down. I want to be at the finish line like, yesterday. I was thinking about that on my drive home the other day and so I thought I would list a few things I do to help remind me that the journey is more important than the destination.
- Walk slower – Yep physically take slower steps. Enjoy the trip to the break room or your colleagues office. It’s amazing how slowing down your body movements sort of forces your mind to slow down too. Of course the trick is to remember to walk slower.
- Breathe before you speak – Anytime I’m asked a question that is more than just “where is the bathroom”, or “how do you use the copier” I take a breath. I’ve found the deeper the breathe the more settled I am before I answer. This is especially helpful for me in meetings. I can (read often) get into a groove in a meeting or call and forget to take these very important pauses. Just like closing your eyes and doing some deep breathing helps your body to relax, the consciences act of breathing before you speak reminds you to slow down, listen, and then respond. It helps me think through possible challenges and can keep me from putting my foot in my mouth.
- Take a break – Every 90 minutes or so I get up from my desk and do a tour of the building. It takes about 2 minutes to walk the perimeter, more if I stop to chat ideally with a coworker. It doesn’t take long and the rules are: I have to walk slow and I can’t think about what I was just working on. It builds some exercise into my day and forces me to relax my mind, both things that everyone knows is good for them.