To Move Slower: My New Year’s Resolution for 2015
“I will love with urgency but not with haste” -Mumford and Sons
Okay, so my title wasn’t completely honest. What follows isn’t really a resolution. (My actual resolutions are to give up soda for good and to not buy books in 2015). As for this post, what I mean is I didn’t come up with this idea on January 1 any more than it will end on December 31. I will fail hundreds and probably thousands of times. It’s also not something that can be completely “accomplished,” “achieved,” measured in a tracker, or checked off a list. This has been developing in me for a while now, and it’s less like an attempt of willpower and more like a paradigm shift or an adjusted priority or an overarching principle.
I’m not vowing to lose weight or to work less or to earn a promotion or to “spend more time with family.” What I hope for in 2015 is to move slower. Yes, slower. Whether I am cooking, eating, reading, listening to a song, working, moving from one place to another, engaging in conversation, building a relationship, grocery shopping, or writing, I don’t want to rush. I’m sick of that feeling I suspect that moving too fast creates anxiety while stealing pleasure and connection. Counter-intuitively, moving slower also seems to help me do whatever I’m doing as well as I can.
Moving slower will be no easy endeavor in our efficiency-glorifying, corporate-ladder-climbing, instant-gratifying culture. I’m implicated in all of that more than I’d like to be, in addition to my already-anxious posture, especially as it relates to personal finances. For all of my bad habits, I don’t seem real capable of laziness or sloth. The opposite — working too quickly and in a way that lacks true focus — is more my issue. One of the many reasons slowing down is so difficult for me is because when I actually do it, one of the inevitable results is that I begin to feel emotions I would sometimes rather avoid.
Dr. Brene Brown, a self-proclaimed vulnerability researcher, uses the phrase “full-hearted living” in her videos. She tells this little anecdote about how she wears a ring with a spinner on it. She calls it her boundary ring, and whenever someone asks her to do something, she spins the ring three times before answering. While she spins it, she says to herself: “Choose discomfort over resentment.” This allows her to say “no” more often, which I am (slowly but surely) learning to do. Brown does this because she understands that time is our most valuable resource. Whenever we choose something, we also choose not to spend our time or money or energy on something else. Because the amount of time we all get is limited, I want to spend my time in ways that lead to life, not some self-created race that kills joy.
What is the cost or risk of saying “no” more often? Well, obviously, I might not get as much work done or at least I’ll have to work smarter. Some emails might go unanswered. The to-do list might never empty. All worth the possibility of full-hearted living, I think. Or as I have heard others call it, “being present.”