Let’s Slow Down the Pace

“We have a pace problem,” said Tim Ruggles at breakfast this morning. He’s Executive Director/CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County, my client and friend, and he was talking about how fast we run every day, every night, tuned in and turned on to all the messages thrown at us 24/7.

And it’s killing us.

What Tim was asserting, and I agree wholeheartedly, is that we don’t need to work so hard and drive so fast to the point of keeling over. We don’t need to. Accomplishment is relative. Enough is, truly, enough.

Except we don’t believe that.

Nowadays, we think we have to run at full-tilt all the time and there is no other option. I am pleased to offer an alternative, though, in the form of my husband.

He’s a pretty laid-back guy, who works hard when he’s at work and doesn’t worry about it when he’s not. He puts in extra time when he needs to, but doesn’t overdo. And his workplace does not expect anything different.

On the other hand, I’m going at full-speed pretty much all the time. And why? I often tel my staff, “We’re not heart surgeons. It’s ok to leave this for Monday.” And sometimes deadlines arise and we can’t leave it for another day. But most of the time, we’re not saving lives; we’re enhancing them so we can do it without ruining our own lives.

Except, again, we don’t.

We work so hard all the time, and then it’s kids, and then it’s grocery-shopping and whatever else we need to do to keep our lives on pace as we think it should be.

So in talking with Tim, we discussed the end of the sailing season and his process for bringing his boat out of the water and into storage. Over the summer, I was lucky enough to join Tim and his children, with my husband and kids, on the sailboat for a glorious northern Michigan afternoon across Grand Traverse Bay.

Phenomenal. The sun on our faces and the wind in our hair. The smell of crystal water so pure it lulled us into peaceful rest. The kids jumping into the water and swimming around the boat and lore of cuts being healed by the purity of Lake Michigan’s depths.

Sharing time together as families, as people, heart to heart, eye to eye.

A day like that is…precious. And a day like that makes the crazy-busy days ok.

As long as we have enough of them to balance it all out.

Fifteen years ago (OMG!) I started to work for myself because I wanted to be able to roller-blade in the afternoon or go to a matinee movie without seeking someone’s permission.

The first year I was freelance as a journalist, I rose at 7 am and got to work and often didn’t stop until 11 at night.

In recent years, I’ve added more balance into the mix, but it’s still not there. We run far too much and stop far too little.

So what’s the answer?

Take a long, hard look at the way we work and the intensity of it and ask ourselves, “Is it worth it? Is it right? Do I need to go so hard to accomplish what I’m trying to achieve?”

The answer may surprise you.

And keep having the conversation, every single day, until something kicks in and you can stop running and start being. Because in the being is where Truth resides, and that’s where true accomplishment lurks.

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