LEARNING TO MASTER THE ART OF SLOW… and how it has profound ramifications on my productivity.
What on earth do you mean I’m going to hang out at the beach and in taverna’s all day? Are you mad? Order one coffee and chill for 3 hours on wifi?
IS THIS honestly what people do on Greek islands?
I instinctively know I am going to have to seriously LET GO and de-clutter my schedule, brain, and expectations of my usually fast- paced life. It is never that easy for me to voluntarily slow down. Usually, it’s because I’m a little stressed about running my own business, taking the best possible care of clients, a little too close to burn out for my liking. You see, probably like you, I don’t always know how to say NO, or have overdone it at some level, maybe feeling mentally or physically tired and only then do I KNOW I need to rest and recuperate. Can you relate? Or I go extremely intense and do a mammoth yet very healthy 7-day juice detox to reset my button. I find a way – one that usually works 80-90 % of the time. I take my own advice as often as possible (otherwise what’s the point of offering it to you?). I definitely DO take plenty of play time and fun time and relationship time, but I still tend to veer towards the working very hard syndrome, and can work 8 straight hours a day at my computer – working online, writing, creating talks or running groups. I try and pretend to myself I am cracking “it” and just working 4-hour days (doing my best to emulate Tim Ferris) but I don’t think it’s honestly true all the time. The joys of self-delusion you know?
I totally fantasize about the concept of leveraging and smartening up my productivity, and have definitely improved at least 250% in the past 5 years compared to the last 43 years of my life and so in certain aspects I even feel like I am getting it right. I just know my predominant trap is to keep going back to my default of PUSHY PUSHIER PUSHIEST zone. This is one of the 5 GLITCHES I speak about in my second book – DITCH YOUR GLITCH.
So, just like you, I am most definitely a work in progress, evolving and making better choices as often as feels possible. Can you relate to that – a STEP by STEP journey?
The art of SLOW feels particularly onerous for me to just “drop” into. I know full well the benefits, both short and long term and even meditate regularly and write morning pages, but before long I’ll usually be dashing off to do something with someone, somewhere, for work or play. Now if I want to DASH here in Greece it is going to have to be by foot or bicycle! I am being forced into the art of SLOW and I am stuck with my island choice and me for a month. Sounds like bliss, and it surely IS, and yet it also has its challenges for Ms. Quick Shift here. So my quest is to see if slowing down will actually add to my productivity?
Do you ever battle with slowing down, surrendering and BE-ing?
A few years back when I went through a re-branding exercise of my business and started looking at how my energy most loves showing up in this world and the best way I find myself helping other people. Why do people seek me out and for what kind of support and help? Whilst I have many clients that have been through a long, deep, slow process with me, more often than not I do shorter zaps of intervention on specific aspects of life, a whole life makeover or a home de-clutter. But it’s usually more of the #quickshift “in and out”. Hence the QUICK SHIFT DEVA (this latter word means shining light). It’s about how do I best support YOU to shine YOUR light, let go of clutter and STEP UP in your world? And let’s not waste too much time getting to the point. Let’s focus on RESULTS.
Yes, yes! I know – I speak fast, eat fast, enneagram fast, dance fast, laugh fast, learn fast, love fast and move fast. It’s also precisely why I do Yoga where I have to stand STILL and on ONE leg to encourage me to engage and be mindfully present.
I also like to change fast, move homes fast and don’t muck about too much.
And yes, it comes to bite me on the butt and then time DOES demand that I somehow come to a total standstill and halt. I believe it is not healthy to attempt to CHANGE one’s inherent nature, our natural born talents, strengths and essence and in fact, it goes against every cell in my body. I also know, as per everything in DITCH YOUR GLITCH, that your very point of power can also be your very same point of undoing. So I believe we have to muster up a massive sense of irony, humour, honesty and learn when to temper aspects of ourselves at certain times to prevent burnout, to save face, to restore vitality or to up the ante. I know that we are NOT called on to remain EXACTLY THE SAME day in and day out. Life is an ebb and flow. Just like the sea I’m listening to as it laps gently at my feet while I sip my Greek coffee.
So here I am – on the 3rd largest island in Greece, called Lesvos. On the west coast in a wee fishing village called Skala Eressos. It is famous as the birthplace of the famous poet and teacher Sappho, and as such is very popular with women travelers seeking inspiration and connection from around the world. I am here because of my business partner, Sarah – I invited her to come and add her very special expertise and magic to my “book writing” mastermind groups in 2015, and we are now on our 3rd group together – and this is where she just happens to live.
It’s often so simple as to why we land up where we do. Why are YOU where you are today?
I was coming to the island to co-run our WRITE YOUR BOOK retreat at the end of June, and then got a call to do some work in Romania a month before. Now why on earth would I travel “back” to the southern hemisphere instead of coming to chill on this island for 3 weeks before the retreat starts? So I find myself here for a total of 4 weeks, adjusting to island life. I am also adjusting QUICKER than I thought possible!
Ha ha, you get the irony right – Adjusting QUICK to becoming SLOW :)
I thought I would really battle for the whole month and here I am on day 4, surprisingly IN the rhythm with just a little coaxing. Most locals wake up for a coffee MAYBE at 8, MAYBE, with breakfast at about 11 ish – which could be a small cookie type thing, then eat some brunch at about 2 pm, a mandatory rest late afternoon, then stay out every night till at least midnight. The taverna’s come to life at night – well so I am told as I’ve been back on my little farm cottage before it gets dark – still getting the hang of cycling on dirt roads – have already fallen on my ass once, laughed at by the four-legged ass who saw me, eeehaaawing at my side. See him below. I am definitely not in ‘party’ mode and I’m in bed by 9 pm as soon as it gets dark. Whoaaaa living the high life hey. So I’m not quite on the local rhythm zone, but I’m already immersed in my own very, very slow and mindful version.
I wake at 5 am, letting the light stream into my room, chatting to the cute black kitty that visits me every morning, mewing for some milk. Then cycle from my farmland cottage along dirt roads to the village in a swimming costume and summer dress hiked up around my thighs as I’m on a “boy” bike with the straight bar across the top (VERY elegant). I meander along to the wee fishing harbor – turquoise and azure blue and there is usually NO-ONE else around so it’s my favorite time of solitude and contemplation. That has always been how I have found a little dose of SLOW my entire life – pockets of time in the early hours of the morning, before all hell breaks loose in my day and other people come alive.
Do YOU have pockets of slow? No matter how short?
Then, I usually have a little wander around, take pictures, watch the fishermen, and reflect on the day past and to come and always start to ponder the bigger picture of “stuff” I’m working on for my business. With an upcoming trip to the USA to launch my speaking and books in the big wide world, I feel my energy leaving the village to the skyscrapers of New York, Boston and Stockbridge. Then I come to my little “favorite spot” – the first coffee shop that opens, where I work for about 3 hours. I can plug my laptop in and access awesome Wi-Fi. This is where I type from right now….
At 10.30 every day there is group of intrepid women “ROCKERS” – we swim out to the big, beautiful rock 400 metres away for a sense of adventure, community and strength building. You can see how far it is in pics below, plus swimmers get a ‘medal” on their first swim. Good way to compensate for all the baklava and spanakopita! My shoulders can tell you how far it is! I have never swum in the sea in this way before – I have been more of a wave-surfing swimmer in the breakers, rather than crossing open water. 800 meters there and back of blissful blue!
WANT TO GET STARTED MAKING SOME CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE?
2020 UPDATE! If you feel inspired to start making some small shifts in the direction of a slower life, then the very best way is to get you started with my latest email series – THE STRATEGIC POWER OF DISCONNECTING. Take time out to prevent wipe out! GRAB IT HERE
I send you deep waves of blue bliss from Skala Eressos,