Several weeks ago I was on your screen reminding you that we didn’t really have eight weeks until year-end. That it was a much shorter amount of time because November and December are abbreviated months – at least in terms of how we experience them. So, you might think it is pretty rich of me to now be on your screen almost four weeks later to suggest you slow down as the days and weeks hurtle us toward December 31st. 

Yet, here I am…

I was definitely feeling the pressure of the clock as I was preparing to host the Thanksgiving holiday, to meet two proposal deadlines, and to get a head start with preparing for three upcoming speaking engagements. However, in a quiet moment, the phrase, “slow down to speed up” came to mind. 

Slowing down when what you most want to do is accelerate, push harder, and do more is such a paradoxical idea. Yet, there is so much power in doing what seems counterintuitive.

So today’s missive is for you, in case you, too, need to be reminded of the power of slowing down. Particularly since the natural inclination is to do otherwise when deadlines loom, expectations (your own, as well as others of you) pile up, and the adrenaline to get it all done kicks in.

Here’s Why

When the pressure is on and the inclination is to move even faster, slowing down can garner multiple benefits. Like:

Greater Clarity & Focus
Taking a step back is like zooming out. It can help you regain clarity and focus, which will allow you to make better choices regarding your overall strategy and tasks. It can also help you think differently about how you are using (or not) your resources. 

This is why I believe slowing down is a courageous choice. 

One that requires a tremendous amount of self-trust; a deep knowing that doing so won’t halt your progress or sabotage the outcomes you’re aiming for. 

Better Managed Stress
I don’t know about you, but in my experience, pressure and stress often go hand in hand. And if not managed properly, that pressure and stress can not only amplify any anxiety you may be feeling, it can also cloud your judgment and affect your well-being.  

When I’m under the gun, I notice that my stress levels increase. And when this happens, I actually need to be even more committed to the practices I might be tempted to skip because my schedule feels “tight” – like working out, meditating, and getting enough sleep. 

Stress can have you doing the opposite of what keeps you calm, grounded, clear-eyed, and creative.

The way I see it, slowing down so you can proactively manage your stress is akin to “putting your mask on first” as you endeavor to meet the demands of and on your time, talent, and treasure. 

Details Matter
Even though the person checking me out invited me to put my entire basket on the shelf, I opted to unload my shopping cart, beginning with my scannable items first. The person asked why and I responded, “I’m a bit neurotic and I think this is more efficient.” He laughed.

Then, I started unloading my produce and had two bags of red garnet sweet potatoes. Because of the separate bags, he wondered if they were two different types, and I explained, “No; I separated them based on the recipe I was using them for.” Now we were both laughing. 

This is not just a funny story about my shopping habits; it’s a story about details. Details matter all the time, but even more so when you’re under the thumb of deadlines and expectations that are making you feel stressed. 

Slowing down can help you avoid making unforced errors. 

When you are rushing and not paying attention to all the details, you increase the likelihood of making mistakes that you have to go back and correct. Thus, causing whatever you are working on (or deciding on) to take even longer.  

Turns out slowing down can end up saving you time.

Creativity Sparks
I was reminded of the phrase, “slow down to speed up,” when I was away from my computer, and where my mind was unencumbered and could wander. Plus, I wasn’t rushing. 

I was in the shower. A space that naturally creates a form of mental white noise. 

On the day I got the “shower” reminder to slow down, I also got a cool idea for one of the proposals I was working on.  

Slowing down gives your brain the chance to be more creative.

Now’s the Time 

Perhaps you are as cool as a cucumber amidst the rush toward December 31st. 

Others of us (myself included) need a reminder about the nuances of slowing down when the pressure, stress, and stakes are high. Within this deliberate pause lies the potential for greater success, fulfillment, and even enjoyment of the process.

But like I said earlier, slowing down is a courageous choice to make during high-pressure moments when logic might say otherwise. However, it often leads to clearer thinking, greater productivity, and better outcomes than if you had simply pushed through. 

These last few weeks have reminded me that slowing down is an often overlooked super power. 

Remembering to “slow down to speed up” is certainly the reminder I needed. And if you needed the same, here it is. Use it and let it be part of your strategic advantage in the days and weeks ahead.  

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