I wouldn’t call myself a great proponent of mantras. I’ve never been one to rely heavily on mantras before. But lately, I have to admit that that there are a few sayings that have slipped their way into my consciousness and on which I have started to rely to make it through the days of this crazy thing that we call life.
The one that reared its head the most this week is a new idea I’ve been dwelling on: As slow as you want.
This might come as a shock (…unlikely), but I can be a pretty lazy person. It’s not one of my favorite qualities about myself. I’ve previously written at length about procrastination in all its painstaking glory. I think a part of this laziness and lack of motivation might stem from feeling overwhelmed, feeling like a certain chore is just too many steps all at once, or a series of tasks is just too big to think about tackling, so why start at all? I think introverts in particular probably fall prey to this thought process, as a book under the blankets takes a lot less effort than most other things in life. And I wish I was talking about tasks that are actually large and significant. I’m not. I’m talking about the day in, day out things we want to ideally accomplish as functioning, healthy, contributing members of society and our households – the laundry, the shopping, the dishes, giving the dog a bath, getting to the gym, getting dressed in the morning (…yes I have motivation issues in the morning, don’t act like you wake up every day ready to adult the hell outta things).
It doesn’t help that I am also not someone who would be described as a patient person. In fact it’s worse than that – I’m someone who likes to appear patient, who likes others to think that I’m patient, but those that truly know me know what’s up. I might be lazy because I’m so impatient. If I perceive that I can’t get something done as fast as I think it should be done (which in most cases means five minutes ago) then it overwhelms me and I put it off.
BUT, in recent months, I’ve been dwelling on little sayings to help me get through, and one of them is little by little. It’s not a new or novel idea. It’s just that simple reminder that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will my rat’s nest of a closet be magically organized overnight. But if I give myself permission to organize a shelf at a time or unpack a box at a time, I will eventually see my closet floor again.
It’s along these same lines while reminding myself to tackle things little by little that I learned the power of taking things as slow as you want. On the surface, this might seem like a sluggish way to live life, and maybe it is, but I have to share that I’ve gotten more things done this week than in many weeks previous by allowing myself to work at a snail’s pace, focusing on one step at a time, and reminding myself in the process that eventually I will get done. This has been a game changer for me in several areas like getting ready in the morning or getting to the gym. Apparently, I just really hate getting dressed…It’s a lot of work, finding the right socks, pants, shirt, bra, shoes, packing work bags or gym bags, filling water bottles or making lunches, grabbing keys and phone and headphones. I’m tired just writing that sentence. But if I just think about the first item: find socks…check; choose pants…check; pet my dog…check, check, check. Eventually I end up on the Stairmaster, and I’ve achieved a goal. And, you know what? That’s a very motivating thing.
These mantras remind me that it’s okay to break a task down into mini steps. Admittedly, sometimes time matters and you do have to move fast. But when time doesn’t have to be a factor, I’m learning that I don’t always have to make it one. Consequently, this is helping me to live in the moment, to live in the task at hand. I’ve also realized that it makes me more pleasant because I’m not just being an impatient jerk.
And when I get anxious or judgy about efficiency, I just remind myself of a new lesson that’s come out of all this: Slow is better than not at all.