Slow Down: Take your Time and Figure Yourself Out

By Amarachukwu Okpunobi

Do you ever feel like you’re rushing to accomplish your goals and “get better?” You find a great book filled with great takeaways and suddenly you’re rushing to finish it and move on to the next one.

Or you get a cool business idea and next thing you know you’re on your computer visiting GoDaddy to see if the domain is available and buy it. Or you see someone else doing “their thing” and you think… “Omg, what is my thing? I need to be doing more.”

Guilty as charged.

I’ve been here too many times. I’ve found myself in the fast lane, and end up getting bumped back into the slow lane, mostly because I wasn’t ready for that kind of speed yet.

So, why do we rush, even when we know we’re not ready? What’s the hurry to do more, be more, see more?

I’d like to unpack this because I don’t think I’m the only one who’s caught myself racing against the invisible opponent.

The Easy Button

The era we’re in plays a big part in our desire to arrive to our aspirations in record time. We’re members of the “Instant Age.” A time of convenience, where everything you could ever want or need can be yours in an instant. And that has made waiting and patience a tough virtue to grasp.

Remember the days of going to the bank, and lining up to get cash so you could shop? Those days are behind us. All you have to do now is tippity-tap your debit card and go on your merry way. Or how about those days where if you needed something you had to go to the store? Not anymore! Just roll over, grab your phone, click same-day service, and within a few hours a little brown box is sitting at your doorstep.

Even my Nespresso machine can give me a high quality Central American espresso shot, and all I have to do is go into my kitchen and press one button. Oh, if only life had an easy button, they used to say.

Well, like a friendly alien from the outer worlds, the “easy button” has landed, and we’re just seeing the beginning of it. So, as a result, when it comes to things that take time, like building a career, or a relationship we find ourselves in a place of thinking it should be as easy as making our morning Nespresso.

And why?

Because when so many things that used to be hard become easy, it starts to feel like everything else should be just a painless.

“The Joneses”

By now you’ve noticed that we’re surrounded with messaging that focuses on wealth, success, and accomplishments. Whether on LinkedIn or IG or the news, there’s a serious spotlight on the glitz and glamour of everybody else’s life. Hey, you even post your own glitzy glam moments when they happen.

So, every time we pick up our phones it’s:

“So-and-so becomes a millionaire selling paper clips on Amazon”

“So-and-so just got published in Forbes”

“So-and-so just got promoted to Director of everything you ever wanted to be”

“So-and-so just finished their MBA”

And when we read this myriad of astounding achievements, day after day and week after week, that tiny voice of doubt starts to creep in and ask:“Hey… did you miss the boat or something?”

But here’s an important thing to understand. There are some things in life that just can’t be automated. They’re not meant to be fast. Some things have to be lived and felt and breathed in. They require effort, trial and error – oh and time! A lot of time.

Think of a relationship for example. What do you think it’s going to take for two people, from two different families, with two different sets of likes and dislikes and values and goals, to come together to an agreement, to the point of building a friendship or marriage?

Or take a business idea. What do you think it’s going to take to go from an idea, to having a truly sustainable product or service that people trust and want to buy. And then, how do you get that to replace your income so you can live off of it solely.

I’m not saying that things have to take forever to happen.. But what I am saying is that they will require an extraordinary amount of effort, and usually a pretty decent amount of time. Especially if it’s something you want to last.

The achievements of others are inspiring and can provoke you to action, and that’s great. But the extent of your action should depend on where you are personally.

Are you ready and able to put in the countless hours of dedication?

Are you ready and able to make a decision and stick to it?

Are you able to accommodate the consistent routine you’ll need to build the good habits required?

Do you know yourself? Your skills, your goals, and how to use them to move you forward?

Maybe the answer to the above is no. And that’s ok. This is your chance to water yourself. Allow yourself to learn and grow. Focus on grounding your roots, rather than the fruits of others.

Wise Lessons from the Turtle

You remember the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, right? The Hare had speed. But the Tortoise had commitment. The Hare thought that speed would undoubtedly get him to the finish line first. He believed it so much that he fell asleep. The Tortoise on the other hand had commitment. He was aware that speed was not his strength. But he also knew that a steady pace, even if it was slow, could still get you to the same destination.

Life is not a race, but if it was, it would be less about speed and more about endurance. Please remember this. You’re not in a race. There is no need for you to go fast. Like the tortoise, its better to go at life slow, but steady.

Success is not going anywhere. It’s not about to hop on a plane and leave the country. Love is not dissapearing either, at least it hasnt yet for the past few thousand years. And education is not an expiring carton of milk. Take your time. Figure yourself out a little more.

Interview yourself and ask:

What do you really want out of life?

What matters to you?

What are you good at? What are you bad at?

What kind of people do you want to be around?

What are your values?

You’ll be able to make better decisions when you stop and take the time to understand what you’re looking for out of life. Don’t burn yourself out, or live a lie because you’re afraid you’ll miss the boat of success, or love, or whatever you are looking for. There’s room for all of us. But it’s more important for you to know who you are, what you want and what you have to offer. This way you can position yourself in the right place to make the best move.

The Seed

The natural world has a way of telling us that things take time. When you admire a large tree, it’s hard to picture it as a seed buried under the dirt. When you see a man or woman, you really admire, it’s hard to imagine them as a baby having to be spoon fed and changed.

But that’s how it all started. Everything has a beginning, and that beginning takes decades to grow and develop into something or someone that can be admired.

Great things take time. Nothing that is rushed is ever really good, much less great.

So go hit that Nespresso button and chill out. You’ve got a lot to learn and a lot to give, you just need to give yourself the time and space to get there.

A reminder that your life is NOT a race

From Ren, the writer.