The journey is the reward.
I sat at a table filled with my entrepreneurial friends. The conversation was all about getting ahead.
Don’t get me wrong: I love reaching my goals, watching my desires come to fruition and being productive.
But, in that moment, I couldn’t help but wonder,
“Have we lost the true meaning of life?”
I’m reminded of the many lessons I’ve learned from the French, including taking notes from a routine day spent in a country that values every day life more than our future one.
8 AM: A café and light breakfast, such as a tartine, enjoyed while reading the newspaper
Noon: The country shuts down for a couple of hours to savor lunch.
5:00: Time to meet friends at a lovely cafe to catch up and people watch.
8:00: Dinner is served. And you better believe this is not going to be a rushed meal.
So… what does this signify? That they enjoy eating? Sure, but there’s more.
The French slow down long enough to actually indulge in life.
Instead of rushing through life, they slow down long enough to actually taste their Bordeaux and really listen to others.
This is the first step in French Kissing Life.
A French gentleman once said to me: “I don’t understand Americans. You work really hard to buy big homes and fancy cars, but you rarely have time to enjoy them because you’re so stressed out and working so hard to pay for the dream.”
There’s a lot of truth in this.
Do you live to work or work to live?
In my opinion, Americans live to work, while the French work to live.
In the U.S., there seems to be two speeds: traveling at the speed of light or at a screeching halt.
The “halt” typically occurs when our bodies give out and can’t go any further and illness or sheer exhaustion set in because we are so overloaded by the accelerated pace that we’re living.
When I started my company, I made a conscious decision to avoid what many of my fellow entrepreneurs find themselves trapped in: a prison of making business a bigger priority than life.
Now, I must give them credit. Many of them have created multi-million dollar companies and have been featured all over the press. From the outside, they appear successful. However, many are falling apart behind the veil.
Now, I’m not raking in the millions, yet! Of course, that would be fabulous and I’ll welcome it when it happens.
But, my mission is to inspire the world to live more artfully and well.
For this reason, I have taken the slow and steady route in building my company, and it has nothing to do with my being lazy or not wanting to play big. In a world that’s constantly pressuring us to play to our edge and push the limits, slowing down and living our own truth IS playing big.
Instead, I choose to leisurely hustle , opting for intense focus, working smarter, and living according to my values.
The result? I have been banking experiences and memories that will far outlast– and certainly outweigh– any monetary compensation.
Just to be clear, I love being productive and getting stuff done. In fact, oftentimes I have to tear myself away from the computer because I love my work. But, I know the downside to burning the midnight oil, and it “ain’t pretty” – exhaustion, pressure, breakouts, crankiness, amongst other ailments.
I remind myself often:
Money is a renewable resource; time is not.
So, to all of you fast-paced, gotta-have-it-yesterday sisters, let’s choose to move in a different way.
Slowing down can be a very daunting idea. Believe me, I get it. That nagging question of: But how is all of this work going to get done? It’s funny, but it will. I promise.
In fact, I’m living proof that following the path of slow, beautiful ease works. And, if this perfectionist, reformed Type A can do it, so can you.
Don’t buy into the illusion that one day, when it’s all neatly tied up in a package and complete that you’ll start living. That day never comes. It’s an illusion. There’s always more to do. Why not commit to enjoy the journey to the dream as much as the dream itself?
In case you’re scared silly at the thought of actually slowing down and enjoying life, let’s look at some good reasons to saunter, not speed race, through this precious experience called your life:
Reason One: When you move slowly through life, you get to savor the journey.
Consider your choices:
Option A) The Fast-Paced Life
It could look like this: Pulling up alongside a McDonald’s drive-thru window, ordering a Big Mac special, eating while you’re driving, listening to the radio or with a conference call on your Blue Tooth, and having your kids screaming in the background.
But, how long does this experience take? Maybe five minutes. Chow down and move to the next piece on your agenda.
Did you enjoy it? I mean really?
How does your body feel? Recharged or like you need a nap?
Check-in with your emotions… Are you excited and content or feel guilty and sad?
Busy-ness is SO overrated.
Now, consider this:
Option B) The Savored Life:
This morning, I drove to a local ranch, picked up a dozen fresh eggs, made a stop to the local bakery, and then picked up a fresh loaf of sourdough.
I then created a very simple, yet decadent, breakfast with toast and real butter as Edith Piaf played in the background, as a candle’s flame waned by the open window and locally ground coffee rested in my hand.
I still managed to do the laundry, write this article, have two meetings, and workout. But… I approached them with ease that can only come from savoring life and being intentional.
Of these two options, which feels better? Check-in with your body. Which one elevates your breath and which one elevates your anxiety?
Reason Two: When you move more slowly, you make fewer mistakes.
When I worked as a nurse, there were times when going slow wasn’t an option. Things were happening, people were dying, and you had to act… Quickly.
Not surprisingly, this is when a lot of medical errors are made. That’s because when your autopilot is driving, your attention is scattered and there are many more opportunities to make careless, avoidable mistakes.
Like when you:
Eat quickly, you overeat.
Exercise quickly, you injure yourself.
Live quickly, you sometimes lose your way.
Living slowly allows you to not only be more attentive and intentional but also more productive and able to achieve so much more than when you were plowing through life at a million miles a minute.
Reason Three: When you move slowly, you stay connected.
“I want to lose 10 pounds in two weeks,” Lisa told me during our first session.
“Because I have a big gala event in two weeks, and I want to look fabulous,” she replied.
We often want things… yesterday. And this is often unrealistic.
When we want things now, we tend to disconnect from ourselves in order to get whatever we’re after. The body doesn’t like it, and neither does the mind or the heart.
Slow down long enough to remain connected to your truths before you sprint out of the gate, chasing an illusion. What is it that you really want? It’s always a feeling, and that feeling will rarely be created by rushing through life.
I lost over sixty pounds by slowing down, savoring life, and taking the pressure off myself to lose it in a hurry.
Never sacrifice your emotional well-being to force results. You’ll not be happy with the end result. Why? Because the way you create something is the way you experience it.
That’s why many women consult with me after losing weight or creating the company wondering why they’re still not happy. Quite simply: they created an unhappy journey to get there.
Look, this isn’t easy. In fact, it’s pretty darn challenging and takes a lot of work. But… slowing down is a choice we all can– and should– make.
Slow down long enough to consider what is most important. Slowly, steadily, and intentionally, move in the direction of that purpose.
You will most often discover that the “hurry” is self-inflicted and unnecessary and the journey is so much more enjoyable when you can allow yourself to take it all in.
This isn’t a race.
Wanna join me in easing up a bit? Why don’t you take a few moments and share in the comments below how you intend to become a lady of ease and elegance?
And, share the Slow Life Movement with your community: @tonya leigh shows why slow is sexy (and productive).
Live Your Life With Style, Flare, and Elegance
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