Slow down you crazy child,
You’re so ambitious for a juvenile.
But then if you’re so smart, tell me why.
Are you still so afraid?
Where’s the fire, what’s the hurry about?
You better cool it off before you burn it out.
You got so much to do and only
So many hours in a day.
Every time I listen to the song “Vienna,” I secretly like to think that Mr. Billy Joel himself is singing directly to me. For those that don’t know me very well, you should know that I’m a hustler and am internally motivated. I push myself to meet and work through challenges and I stop at nothing until I accomplish what I’ve set out to do. I have a go, go, go mentality and my mind is always in a constant race with itself (thanks to my high-functioning anxiety). The fire that Joel refers to in his song is surely alive and well in me but sometimes it can reach full-blown inferno.
I’ve seen this meme all over social media the last few years. I have to say, I’ve never resonated with a meme more than this one. I’m in a constant state of goal setting, working my ass off, reaching milestones and starting the cycle all over again. This whole time, I keep telling myself, it’s fine. But the truth is, it’s not fine. Because during this entire cycle, I’m always left feeling anxious and exhausted but yet, I continue pushing myself through it. Like right now, it’s 1am on a weeknight and I have to be up in 6 hours. Yet here I am, trying to meet a deadline that I’ve set for myself.
The problem with all of this is that I usually don’t take the time to truly slow down, enjoy the steps it takes me to get to my goals, or celebrate in my accomplishments. I tick a goal off like it’s a to-do and move on to the next. Sooner or later, if I don’t slow my roll, that fire in me burns out (or just burns me alive, according to the comic). I’m then left feeling overwhelmed and defeated. Anyone else out there who can relate?
We have to remind ourselves that it’s okay to just slow down sometimes. I’ve thought about this at length and have put together some ways that we can start slowing ourselves down so we can appreciate life a little more.
Acknowledge & Celebrate Achievements
It’s so great to be goal-oriented. However, if we’re checking off our goals like they are our grocery list (like I do), when will we ever feel fulfilled? It’s important to take a step back and acknowledge when we hit a personal or professional goal. We should be celebrating those achievements as they happen, even if it’s just doing a happy dance by ourselves. Take a moment or two to enjoy it and soak it all in.
It becomes very easy to compare your progress with someone else’s to only be left feeling defeated and like you should be in step with them. If you’re frustrated with yourself and your progress with something, have some perspective. What can you do now that you couldn’t a year ago, a month ago, even a week ago? It’s important to remember that everyone is on their own path and are in different stages of life than you. Focus on your own progress and how much you’ve already grown.
Learn When to Say No
Sometimes the only way to slow down is to know when to say no to someone – or even yourself. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t feel you have that ‘me’ time for yourself, say no to prior commitments so you can do the things you want to do. Don’t feel like going to that party this weekend and would rather sit on your couch and watch Netflix? Don’t force yourself to go. Simply can’t take on any more work at your job? Say so. I’ve learned over the last few weeks especially when to say no to myself. A lot of the times, I get frustrated with myself if I can’t accomplish everything I set out to do in a day. Instead of this though, I’ve tried to recognize everything I did do for that day. I now try to tell myself when enough is enough so I can actually relax, which brings me to my next point….
Take One Day at a Time
There’s only so many hours in a day, right? You said, it B-Joel. Real talk, I actually ended up seeing a therapist last year. At the time, I was feeling overwhelmed with how much was on my plate. I also felt like I couldn’t fully slow down and enjoy life. But, one of the main takeaways I received from my therapist was to write down every night everything I did that day. It helps to quantify just how much I am getting done in a day. Incredibly, I feel more accomplished and satisfied to actually take some nights off to just sit and do nothing. On nights I’m feeling anxious, I like to remind myself to take it one day at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? Our lives and accomplishments won’t be built in a day either. Enjoy the ride, my friends.
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Success Manager at Salesforce and has over 10 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.