The race to nowhere is not just a phenomenon applicable to high school kids pulling their hair out (or worse) trying to get into the ‘right’ college so that they can get the ‘right’ job and live the ‘right’ life. It’s a phenomenon that exists everywhere and affects everyone. And where are we all racing to? The end of the line is truly the end of the line, so what is the rush? We are already where we need to be….smack dab in the middle of our lives. And a number of people in a number of countries are beginning to notice and slow the f*^# down.
Carl Honore gave a TED talk quite a few years ago on this very topic and much of what he discussed then is still quite relevant. He highlights the connection between our need for speed (speed dating, speed walking, speed dial, speed reading, even speed yoga) and eroding health, productivity and quality of life. This focus on speed also creates stresses that limit creativity, something that I find unbearable. He posits that with the advent of the Slow Food movement we are beginning as societies to see the benefits to slowing down. Slow food has given way to slow communities, slow sex, even slow money, a topic that came up at a food conference I attended recently and was a reference to crowd funding.
Arianna Huffington suggests that this need for speed is an addiction to ‘busy-ness’ with the goal being success based on money and power. She proposes a ‘third metric’ borne of a commencement speech she gave in 2013 at Smith College. The third metric is success based on quality of life, or thriving, rather than defining success as money and power. Guy Kawasaki created a list of ten tips from Arianna Huffington’s new book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder that can help us to create a life where we care for our health, sleep enough, and do not live to work. I paraphrase (and expand) his tips here:
- Redefine success: base success on the joy you’ve brought to people’s lives and whether or not you’ve made the world a better place.
- Avoid burnout: working longer and harder does not reap more success.
- Nurture your well being: exercise, meditate, do music and art, spend time with friends and family.
- Sleep: getting enough sleep will improve every aspect of life.
- Take a digital break: turn off all your devices some of the time.
- Keep learning: learn from your relationships, read, attend events inside and outside of your business expertise.
- Listen to your inner voice: pay attention to your gut reactions…your intuition is based on cues that may not be conscious or obvious.
- Act like a child: enjoy life, do what is fun for you, see the world from a younger, clearer perspective.
- Find solitude: clear your head with meditation or non-thinking time to unleash your own creativity.
- Give back: share your unique talents to improve your corner of the world.
I’d like to add number 11 to this list. Bring the midday meal back to your life. My husband enjoys a midday meal once a week with a friend. They take turns bringing food to the office to prepare and enjoy together, away from their desks. Peter Miller just released Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal. He and his staff make and share lunch each day, setting deliberate time aside from the busy-ness, the computer and the clock. Number 11 is a nice concrete start to the lesser defined 1 through 10. And it’s nearly 1 o’clock as I finish this post, so I’m off to my midday meal!
Keep in touch,