Running Fast vs. Living SLOW

Is it just me or does it feel like we hit the ground running after the holidays? Typically, it feels like we ramp back into “reality” progressively. I have also noticed the last few years, how hard it is for me to unplug, whether I’m going on vacation or just getting some time off work. I have to make a conscious effort to not check email and to intentionally step back. It can be difficult. I worry about “Who will handle that situation?” “What will happen in this circumstance?” “What if someone needs me?”. And then of course all the emails to respond to when you get back. BUT once I do finally unplug, I find it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to plug back in, which is unusual, since I really love my work. Someone said it’s because of my age, which could be a viable explanation. I especially noticed that process this year. I was enjoying my quieter days, slower pace and felt resistance to jumping back into the rat race. It made me wonder, like I have at other times, do we really have to move as fast as we are? Why are we running so fast and so frequently? Why is there so much time crunch and pressure to meet deadlines or make things happen? Where did that shift come from? And when? Has it always been there, and I am just realizing it? I think it has to do with technology and our expectations. There really is very little “excuse” for something not happening “immediately”. We are living in a world of instant gratification. I think everyone senses it, adults and students alike. It can be hard to wait, be patient, go slow.
I am convinced it does not have to be like this, at least all the time. And I am pretty certain I am not the only one feeling this way. I’m hoping to start a mini revolution. I’m asking others to join me in the fight to slow our roll. I’ve had some re-awakenings to the importance of taking a bit more time to respond or react. In fact, often when I’m in the spin and going in fast forward mode, I end up making more mistakes, which ends up creating more work and taking more time (as well as adding more emotional duress or stress, and none of us need any more of that?!) There have been three distinct episodes in the last couple of weeks when I should have taken a moment to regroup and rethink before responding. And because I didn’t do that, I ended up causing myself and others discomfort. It can be a downward spiral from there, I feel upset, so I don’t sleep well or eat healthily. I fret and am not able to give my full attention to whatever task is before me for the day. I can be edgy with others that aren’t involved. It is not a happy way to live and is the opposite of self-care. Those situations were a good reminder to slow down.
Not only have I recognized it in my own life but because of my renewed awareness, I see it in others around me as well. People make rash decisions which unintentionally impact others, which in turn, effects those peoples view of themselves, which can influence their job performance or work outcomes. Can you think of times when that has happened to you? Perhaps an administrator didn’t think through a decision thoroughly and there were repercussions that trickled down to you and your colleagues. That seems to happen frequently. Or perhaps you react quickly to a student in a way that discourages them, they withdraw and don’t perform as well academically. It can set off a chain reaction.
I believe the same can happen if we do the opposite and pace ourselves more intentionally. It could be as simple as taking a few breaths before responding to a student, an email, a parent or a colleague. Maybe you just ask someone to give you some time to think about how you want to handle a particular situation. (i.e. “Can I get back to you tomorrow by noon?”. Perhaps you could ask the decision maker for clarification on why they made the decision they did? (i.e. “Can you help me understand how you came to this conclusion?”) That approach could also help them to slow down and rethink as well. OR you learn something new about their decision-making process, which could help you feel better about it. Another approach to help us go slow, could include setting a deadline that feels more reasonable for you. ( Such as “I’m happy to do this for you. I’ll have time to work on it and get it to you by Friday.”) We may not always have the luxury to incorporate these strategies, but I believe we have opportunities to use them that we may be missing. Please join me in committing to ourselves (and helping others) join in on the Living SLOW mission, so we don’t have to run so fast.