When To Slow Down And Still Achieve More
Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.
I made a promise to myself this year: No holding back!
I’m on a mission to make my dreams come true! And boy do I have a lot of them!
I want to grow my blog and become a professional blogger.
I want to travel to a new destination every month.
I want to cross off things on my bucket list every month.
I want to experience a new adventure every week.
I want to do all these things. And trust me when I say that I have been doing all these things. My life before was simple, and to be honest, quite boring. I work Monday to Friday and come home to cook, then binge watch Netflix or cable. On the weekends we binge watch some more and do chores. But this month alone I’ve been on six adventures, posted 12 articles making this #13; all this while making my family and employer happy. Needless to say, it’s been a pretty busy month. And a pretty fun one at that. This is a big deal for me. I’m finally making things happen.
When I set out to accomplish my dreams, I mean really chase after it and finally get rid of the whole “dreaming” part of it, I knew I had to sacrifice a lot of my lazy time. There were more than a couple of nights when I only had 3-4 hours of sleep before heading to work because I was finishing up an article for my blog. But I was ok, because I felt happy, I felt passionate; something I lost for a long time and I’m finally feeling again. But with great passion comes great responsibility. It’s a blessing and a curse at the same time. There is no other feeling when you feel passionate about something. It doesn’t feel like work because you’re loving every minute of it. There’s no stopping you. That’s where the blessing comes in, and the the curse alongside with it… There’s no stopping you. You’re living in the moment and taking risks and not getting enough sleep and you can’t find time for anything else because there’s no stopping you… Passion. A blessing and a curse.
I felt like I was finally accomplishing what I said I would do. 30 days later I still feel the drive and motivation only getting stronger. I’m not tired. I can keep going. That was true up until two days ago.
Last Friday was the third night within a week that I went to work with less than 5 hours of sleep. I have a pretty demanding job. I’m an IT Executive Assistant. I don’t just answer to my boss and wait for him to give me work. In fact, if he never hands me a new project for the next 3 years, I still won’t have any free time. I have responsibilities that require immediate attention; the kind where if I’m on vacation for a week, I will be getting calls on my cell. And I’m ok with that. I’m an asset to my team and I appreciate the feeling of being indispensable.
Going back to the point I was trying to make– last Friday was the third night within a week that I went to work with less than 5 hours of sleep. If you have ever been in that situation then you know how I felt. I was MISERABLE! I kept nodding off at my desk. I was drinking coffee like it was water to a survivor from the desert. My entire body was craving for a bed. I would have fallen asleep on the ping pong table (we have a ping pong table at work). Thank God for will power.
I brought my son to work with me that day because his school declared a “No School Day.” He was sitting in the back seat on the drive home when I felt myself nodding off at the wheel. I was no longer aware how long I had my eyes closed so I had to press on the breaks in fear of hitting the car in front of me. That’s when I realized I had to slow down. Not my driving (well, that too), but my schedule. I’m doing way too much.
My dreams are always going to be there and I’m going to continue chasing them. But not at the expense of harming my family or myself for that matter. Though my mind is as passionate as ever, my body disagrees. My body is having a hard time keeping up with my mind. So I have to take it down a notch. It’s not like I’m putting things on hold. No, not at all. I’m prioritizing and weighing my options.
I need to cut down on something. Looking at all my top goals, I have to decide what is the most important for me. I definitely don’t want to slow down on traveling and taking adventures, but I also want to continue growing my blog. So what can I change to slow down and still achieve everything I want?
Let’s break it down.
I reserve one entire day out of the week for adventures. This includes things on my bucket list and fun activities with my family. It’s one day. I’m not losing any sleep over this. After taking an adventure, I feel more alive and energized. I’m not slowing that down.
I reserve one weekend out of the month to travel. This includes mini-trips via car or destinations within the country. I plan the bigger vacations like traveling to a new country that require more than a two-day stay only once this year. So, I’m not slowing that down either.
Then there’s blogging. Right now, I am posting 3 articles a week with an average of 795 words per article. 795 words is not too much. Up to this very sentence makes 991 words. And I still have more to say… bare with me now…
I love to write so 795 words does not seem like a lot, but it consumes a lot of my time. There’s the concept I have to think about, the time it takes to do the research, and the taking, choosing and editing of photos that go behind every article. I create 3 articles a week. If I was doing this full-time, three 795-word articles a week would be a breeze. But I’m not doing this full-time and I don’t want to stop either. Something’s gotta give, right?
I can’t give up my day job. That’s where all my income is coming from. I just started building my blog two months ago so I’m not receiving any income from this, yet. I enjoy my day job and I receive a pretty good income. It’s a win-win. I’m not ready to let all that go just yet. And it would be stupid on my part.
So how can I make this work? How can I continue living the way I do and make room for my dreams?
Change doesn’t have it be an all or nothing deal. I don’t have to completely give up one thing in order to get the other. That’s the misconception of change that people always misunderstand and that’s why rarely ever do. They continue to live in mediocrity because they’re afraid of what change can do to them. Well, it can change your life. It’s really that easy. Human beings need to stop complicating everything. We were blessed with a beautiful mind, but let’s not overdo it by thinking way too much about every single little thing.
My solution or resolution to get what I want and remain sane is this: SLOW DOWN.
I am not giving up anything. I am simply slowing down. After six months, I will re-evaluate my situation and change my priorities if need be. But for now, this is the plan:
Create a schedule that includes everything from chores to adventures. What time of day will you be doing chores? What day of the week will you take adventures? Plan ahead and make sure it’s feasible. You know what you can do and the amount of time to do it. Don’t try to jam everything in. Create a schedule you know you can follow. Run a one-week trial. If you realize that you’re original plan is overwhelming, change it.
Create an online schedule so that you can mobilize it and bring it everywhere with you. My favorite apps to use are OneNote and Google Sheets. I also use a calendar app that’s linked to my Google Calendar.
My new plan: Continue writing three articles a week. Schedule what articles I want to post two weeks in advance. For each weekly article, I will write one 1000+ word article, one 500+ word article, and one 300+ word article. Before, I was always aiming for no less than 750 word articles and that’s what was keeping me sleep deprived. By the word count for each article, I can still achieve my 3 article post a week, continue taking adventures, and get enough rest.
You may be asking, wouldn’t limiting the word count make the article less appealing? I thought about that too. My solution to that are pictures. A picture paints a thousand words. With articles that have less word count, I will use photos to do most of the talking. I just have to make sure that the photos are relevant and delivers exactly what I want to achieve in that article.
SCHEDULE FREE TIME AND FUN TIME
Block out a time slot, or even an entire day in your schedule and leave it blank. This will be your free time. Do what you want with it. Just remember, it’s your FREE time. It’s your FUN time. Don’t use this time to do daunting work. Use this time to relieve some stress and clear your mind.
I give myself Tuesday and Friday evenings off. This is my free time. My Sundays are my FUN days.
FOLLOW THE PLAN
It’s hard to create a new habit when you’re used to something else. All it takes is practice and consistency. That is the secret. You can’t know if your schedule works for you if you’re consistently derailing from it.
Follow the plan. Now if you truly tried your best and you’re honest with yourself about it, but can’t follow your schedule, it means that the schedule needs more tweaking. Move things around. Cut some things short. Maybe you’re focusing too much time on something that doesn’t require that much time.
I schedule a 30-minute time slot every night to promote my social media. This includes posting, pinning, tweeting, and engaging with followers and people I follow. Sometimes I get distracted when I see an interesting post and start doing research on it. Two hours have passed and I’ve fallen in the deep end of how to bake cake and all I did with my social media was like 3 posts.
When you come across something that you want to look further into, make a note of it. This is where OneNote comes in handy. Make a reminder note to yourself and finish what you were doing. When you have spare time, go back to your notes and do the research then.
Meditation works! It’s hard at first, but once you get the hang of it, the feeling is liberating. I’m an amateur meditator so I’m not the best person to be giving advice on it. To learn more, read 8 Reasons Why Meditation Is Good For You.
There is one thing I can tell you — start by doing 10 minutes. It’s not much, but 10 minutes will feel like an hour. When you learn to clear your mind, it gets easier and you can meditate longer. You also have to practice consistently. Once you start, don’t stop. Don’t skip a week or you’ll have to start from the beginning. It’s not liking a bike.