Slow Down So You Can Speed Up

Can you sometimes be too focused? Can you be so fixated on something that you exclude other options and opportunities?

As a Coach, helping people set goals is just part of my day. Clarity about what people want and need in their work and lives is essential for knowing where to head and building a successful plan to get there. As Stephen Covey shared in Habit 2 of his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end in mind.” Great wisdom.

But I have seen this get taken too far. Some people’s stamina and grit to achieve what they have in their sights makes them miss even greater opportunities and options around them. With their eye on the prize, their intense focus makes them blind to all of the information circling around them. In a constantly changing world, it is critical to learn how to slow down, review what is present, adjust as necessary then get back on the road with greater and more effective speed and progress.

My guidance to all of us in this moment when we are regularly encouraged to be resilient, build our stamina and grind our way through tough times is to stop and notice, then consider, choose and act.

Stop means take a breath. Interrupt you habit approach to more intentionally Notice yourself and your world. What has changed in you? Does the goal you’re working toward still have the same meaning? What has changed around you? What new information is worth considering?

Interrupting what we always do allows us to take our blinders off and expose ourselves to a larger view of this moment. From that space, other options and opportunities present themselves. They are there for us to Consider.

Consider means to think about the new information shared with you and what you could do with it. How does it change your goal? How does it offer a new and more efficient approach to the goal? How does it provide something you had not previously thought about? In the moment of taking a breath, the view of the world could change, saving you from a difficult time or offering you something more dynamic. Slow down and let your world talk you.

Now with a greater number of things considered, Choose what you want to do and Act on it. This could look like where you were already headed with a little more clarity or focus, or it could be something entirely new. Regardless, you’ve gained greater clarity as you continue moving down your achievement path.

Take Action
Many of us have learned to just push through hard times. Though stamina and grit are great skills, they can distract you from a mindful and thoughtful approach to a changing world. As the ancient Greek philosophers told us, “nothing too much.” In other words, manage what and how you do things to be your most effective.

Interrupt your normal approach by implementing a daily or weekly Stop to create the time and space to Notice you and your world. Assess what is new or different. What information does it have for you? From an expanded view, Consider what new options or opportunities are available. Choose what makes sense then ramp back up and go Act to make progress.

Regularly slow down to review so that when you speed up, you are making each forward step count.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Managing Your Self-Talk

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