It’s that time of the year again. 

Not only do the days get shorter and the nights longer. But it is also when you have more days, weeks, and months behind you than ahead. It’s when the time left to achieve your goals comes into even sharper focus. 

And, it doesn’t help that the days, months, and years seem to move along faster and faster. At least this is how I’m experiencing the passage of time. How about you?

Maybe we can blame it on getting older (remember what our elders used to say about time when we were young and rushing it); maybe we can blame it on the 21st century demands of life and work; or, maybe we can blame it on technology’s influence on that non-stop, always “on” feeling.

Whatever the reason or reasons, you and I are living and working in a fast-paced world. 

Often, with this speed comes a desire to keep up. 

Yet, sometimes, the best way to keep up, not fall behind, and get ahead is to slow down.

Slowing down to speed up is definitely an oxymoron

And while it isn’t a new concept to me, it’s the subject for today’s missive because of an atypical mistake I made last week. If I had not been rushing, I know I wouldn’t have made this particular mistake. 

However, making it subsequently reminded me of how important it is to practice slowing down. Especially since reaching my 2021 goals and planting the seeds for a strong start to 2022 are top of mind for me. (Speaking of, if you’re in the same boat and you’ve been considering working with me, click here.)

But, you don’t have to rely on my little anecdotal story as proof that slowing down to speed up works. 

Harvard Business Review conducted a study of 343 companies. The study is more than a decade old, but I can’t imagine if it were conducted today, the results would tell a dramatically different story. What they found was that “firms that ‘slowed down to speed up’ improved their top and bottom lines, averaging 40% higher sales and 52% higher operating profits over a three-year period.” Impressive right?

The other thing I found impressive from the study was the distinction between operational speed vs. strategic speed. The former is about “moving quickly;” whereas the latter is about “reducing the time it takes to deliver value.”

I could have avoided my mistake if I had “simply” replaced operational speed with strategic speed. But like many lessons, it is clearer to see this in hindsight. 

Walking the Line

We have 14 weeks left until the end of 2021. That’s not fear-mongering. That’s real because time is real.

With regards to some of your goals, perhaps you feel like this is more than enough time. You got this! 

Whereas with other goals, perhaps you’re already feeling the pinch of not having enough time to accomplish what you want. 

If you’re in the latter camp, how do you embrace the reality of there being 98 days left until year-end whilst not letting that reality put pressure on you to hasten your pace and move too quickly? 

How do you maximize these remaining days and take your time to get things done…right. In other words, how do you lean into the benefits of moving with strategic speed?

While you contemplate the “how,” let me share some of the benefits of slowing down in no particular order:

Take stock of the gap

Right now, when you take stock of where you are, how far you’ve come, and how far you’ve left to go, you see how wide the gap is between “here” and “there.” But you can probably also see more clearly if you’d benefit from making a shift in your strategy. Or, if it’s best to stay with your current course of action.

Take stock of what changed

More than likely, your goals are big and audacious. (Why do I say this? Because I’ve taken the liberty of presuming you’re a high-achiever.) Therefore, it’s probably safe to assume either your goal is complex, achieving it is, or both are true. But, when was the last time you checked-in to see if the complexity or the accompanying challenges or the variables that influence either or both – changed?

Take stock of your resources

The goals that are important and significant to you require plenty of resources – your energy, your time, your creativity, your connections and relationships, and a financial investment or commitment of some sort. When you slow down and do a flashback, you’re in a better position to see if there’s still alignment between the consumption of these elements and the results you’re getting. Or, if you need to recalibrate.

The Slow Road to Success

In a world that often glamorizes quick action and decisions, diminishes the value of taking a pause, and often confuses the speed of movement with progress, it can be hard to slow down. 

And yet slowing down can unlock fresh, new possibilities, ideas, and pathways. 

Slowing down can create the space for deeper questions to emerge – ones you would never have considered when in a frenzied state; ones that grab your attention and reaffirm your intention.

Slowing down to speed up is the oxymoron that sets you and I up for success. And whether you have 365 days, 98 days, or some other number of days, it might be hard to fathom that taking it slow will help you to go further, faster, and with greater purpose.

But, I’m leaning into taking the slow road to success as a way of helping me finish 2021 and start 2022 strong. I hope you’ll take what resonates with you from above and join me.  

In fact, I’d love it if you would let me know if you give any of the above a try as you navigate (and hopefully celebrate) Q4!

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