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How to Make Slowing Down Work for You

We've gone from "go, go, go" to "slow, slow, slow" and if we can use this time for intentional self-reflection, our lives might just be improved on the other side.

Photo by Song kaiyue from Pexels
Photo by Song kaiyue from Pexels

At the time of writing, I’m starting my 8th (9th?) week of COVID-19 related shelter-in-place, and I bet you are somewhere close.

At first, when the shelter-in-place orders came, I think most of us were just flustered. We were in triage mode. We were taking in A LOT of new information: “work from home starting NOW”, “the schools are all closed; become a homeschool teacher”, “wear a mask”, “stock your home”, “don’t go to the store; order your groceries”, “support local restaurants by ordering take out”!

There were a lot of directives. And it has taken some time to sort out. We were experimenting with our schedules and our workloads. Our kids’ schools and activities were happening in fits and starts as they all tried to figure out how to take things remote, how to make it work.

It didn’t feel like we could slow down, because there were so many balls in the air. So much to juggle. So much new.

But now, in my own life and business, and as I’m sensing in others as well, we’ve found our groove a bit, or we’re starting to. Things are feeling a tad less up in the air. Still dicey, but doable.

But, even when schools and restaurants and workplaces start to reopen, things will not be the same. The pace will not be the same.

We have gone from go, go, go to slow, slow, slow.

And that can feel bad. But it doesn’t have to.

Slowing down can feel odd at first, but once we sink into it, it can allow time for self-reflection.

When you have just a bit of time to step above the day to day grind and when you can slow down long enough to simply see, with eyes wide open, what’s been serving you, and what hasn’t, you have the space to start being more intentional.

I want to share an exercise that you might want to try to help you re-evaluate the activities of your life, to step into self-reflection. We’ve been inside for 8+ weeks, NOT doing the activities that we usually do. NOT going anywhere.

  • What do you miss?
  • What are you relieved to be missing?

These are the questions that can help us take advantage of our current situation to improve our lives now, and after we can return to the physical world.

Keep, Start, Stop Exercise

Sit down with a pen/paper, or a doc on your computer and think through the following:

KEEP

  • What do you want to continue doing?
  • What’s working really well for you? For your family?
  • Will virtual happy hours with far flung friends make it into your social life even when we can all return to the world?

START

  • What do you want to start doing?
  • Are there practices you’d like to try?
  • Are you feeling like you have the mental space or desire to learn something new? (And if not, that’s OK too!)

STOP

  • What are you so relieved that you don’t have to do these days?
  • What are you NOT looking forward to when we can go outside again?

There are no right answers here. And the answers will be different for each of you.

Some people may realize that they love working from home, and don’t want to return to the office. Now that you know, how can you start a conversation with your manager when offices open up?

Maybe you actually enjoyed your commute because it was a chance to get some exercise every day. Or it provided you with a chance to read your novels on the train.

Let’s use the change in perspective that the shelter-in-place orders are providing to create positive change in our lives going forward. The forced slowdown that is happening right now is a time to get super-intentional about how we are using our time. It’s so rare that we have an opportunity to rise above the fray, to think about the structure of our time and our lives instead of simply participating in them.

There are a lot of things to be worried about right now, and I don’t want to discount that. But there are also benefits that we can take from any situation. Right now, time has been slowed for us. It’s up to us whether we use that time to make impactful and lasting change going forward.

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