Educators tend to be conscientious professionals. We want to do our jobs well. We want to be successful. We want to meet our own and others’ expectations. These desires can drive us to constantly try to not only do more things but do them faster and longer. Unfortunately, the secret to creating satisfaction and experiencing success is not found in how fast, how hard, and how long we work.
We might think that we create momentum by pushing hard, going fast, and engaging in frenetic activity. Yet, the path to satisfaction, success, and serenity is not paved by doing more and doing more faster and longer. Just as much as slowing down doesn’t mean “quiet quitting” or giving up. Slowing down is accomplished by becoming clear about what is important to us, focusing on our goals, and being willing to say no. It’s about letting go of what doesn’t move us in the direction we’ve chosen.
Yet, the thought of slowing down may leave us uncomfortable and anxious. We’re conditioned to equate activity with productivity, but they’re not the same and don’t lead to the same result. We may think if we slow down, we’ll be seen as uncommitted, unconcerned, and uncaring. Yet, the opposite is more likely to be correct. If we really want to make a difference, serve the needs of our students, and build a career of which we can be proud, we need to be focused, not frenetic, and strategic, not scattered, in the constant building of our skills.
Let’s examine six outcomes we can generate by slowing our thinking and moderating our pace:
- Slowing down our thinking can accelerate and improve our results. This statement may sound counterintuitive, but when we slow down, we make space to think, reflect, adjust, and create. As a result, we plan better, we make fewer mistakes, and we learn more from any mistakes we make.
- Slowing down gives us time to learn and grow wise. Wisdom is not the result of experience. Wisdom is created by taking time to understand, analyze, and learn from experience. Only when we make sense and harness what we know can we move forward and create momentum.
- Slowing down may mean we do a bit less, but what we do, we have time to do better. We have time and energy to focus on creating quality not just quantity. Having time to generate, iterate, and polish a new idea, strategy, or skill can make a stark difference in the success of our efforts.
- Slowing down allows us to experience the journey while remaining focused on the destination. We do not have to sacrifice one for the other. Slowing down can position us for long-term thinking while being focused and productive in the present. Success is not just reaching a destination. Success also is found in a journey that is worthwhile.
- Slowing down invites the discipline not to be distracted by what does not contribute to our goals. Slowing down creates opportunities for us to decide what is most important, and it provides space to generate the focus necessary to accomplish what we value. Slowing down also requires saying “no” to what does not move us forward.
- Slowing down means we can do our work and live our lives in ways that are a little better than we did the day before. Building anything worthwhile takes time. When we commit each day to learning a little more, we become a little better, and we move a little forward, resulting in eventual and certain success.
Deciding to slow the frenetic pace of life is not easy. It requires courage, discipline, and focus. However, the benefits in what we accomplish, the satisfaction we feel, and the success we achieve can be more than worth the effort.