Why do I struggle to give myself permission to slow down?

‘It’s ok to pause, life is not a race to the finish line’ Jackie Jarvis

If you are used to driving yourself hard and have a strong work ethic you will always have a long to do list. It is the norm just to keep going until it is finished, then before it is completed write another list to take over from where the last one left off. There are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. You carry on and on and on, the day never seems to end.

When someone asks you to take a morning off for something that is not work related you almost have a mild panic attack. You haven’t got time to stop. You feel uncomfortable at the thought of it. What excuse can you make. I know … I’m too busy, too busy doing what exactly? My to do list. Can’t you do it later? You work for yourself, so you should be able to take time out when you want to, shouldn’t you? I can’t, you just don’t understand you wail.

It is as if you are invisibly chained to your desk and can’t escape.

I can’t goof off

You still feel you must do your hours just like you did when you had a normal job in corporate life. You feel like you are cheating someone if you goof off, if you take a half day out to do something that is not work related. It doesn’t matter how many evenings and early mornings you have done recently, you still can’t give yourself permission. Does this sound familiar?

Who is that hard task master that won’t let you slow down a bit? You haven’t got a boss anymore.

A business colleague of mine built and sold a business, wrote about it, worked as a coach helping others grow their business, built a small property rental business, and then semi-retired but he still couldn’t give himself permission to slow down.

He had to suffer two life threatening illnesses before he realised that as he was lucky to still be here.  That it was ok if he decided to mow the lawn on a Monday morning and it was ok if he went to the cinema midweek in the afternoon.

When enough was enough

He finally decided that he had enough money to relax and that he didn’t need more. It was ok just to write one good page of his new novel each day, he didn’t have to sit at his computer hour after hour even when he wasn’t being productive. Suddenly years of mental programming just melted away. He was FREE.

In a way the illnesses had been a gift – brought to show him how to be ok with giving himself permission just to do things that make him happy.

We laughed together about it. But really it is quite sad. It took a serious illness for him to realise that it is ok to just slow down a bit and take some time for himself, to realise that life is not all about work, that there is another way to BE.

He realised that he could still accomplish the things that are important, but he doesn’t have to do it at breakneck speed, in fact he could savour them by taking more time. He is enjoying what his is doing more too. By not being worried about being productive, he is accomplishing more of what matters to his well-being. Maybe there is a lesson here for all of us.

Time to reflect

Do you struggle to give yourself permission to slow down, even when you need to?

Are you always doing something? Always have a list that you are working through?

Do you find it hard to take time off, interrupt your normal routine of work, sleep, eat, repeat?

If you do, ask yourself WHY? What stops you?

Is your answer real or imagined? Question it?

Do something differently

Disrupt your pattern and do something different. Don’t wait until you are ill to learn your lessons.

Do something now – give yourself a break, a treat, time out!

Break your own rules for a day and see how you feel.

I hope this helps you give yourself the permission you need to slow down.




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This blog provides news and updates specifically about the book  In Pursuit of Slow and any associated courses or event.