We all “like” articles about slowing down on Facebook - as if voicing our assent and approval will somehow rub off on our lives and create the slow paced stories we desire. Well, as the moments and hours and days of our lives fly by, there’s no time like the present to actually learn how to cultivate this practice. Bad news is, it won’t be as easy as liking an article on Facebook. But the good news is, that it is possible to create new habits in our lives through our hearts, words, and actions.
Begin by thinking about what you really love.
In his book Simplify, Josh Becker writes that our “actions follow our heart.” He writes,
Is it truly time for family and friends and rest that we value? That we love? Because if "slowing down" isn't the "true desire of our hearts", then our words and actions and well-paced lives will never follow.
Next, Create A New Vocabulary:
Picture a lazy Saturday spent at home with friends or family - simply outside together or tossing around a ball. When a friend asks, “What have you been up to this weekend?” We reply, “Oh nothing.” Nothing? Really? Taking time to recharge ourselves, to build important relationships, to enjoy the homes and lives and friends we’ve been given is nothing?
But, when there’s a million things on the to do list, we respond by saying, “We have tons going on. I’m so busy.”
We need a new vocabulary.
Spending a day enjoying what is important to you isn’t merely “passing the time” - it’s not “nothing.” In fact, it’s a great big something. By our words, we are glorifying what’s busy. How then can we justify slowing down if with our words we call it “nothing”? Why don't we affirm with our words that rest is valuable; because it is in these slow moments that we pause, prioritize, and consider carefully what the shape of our lives should be.
We must begin with our vocabulary, which should be shaped by what we love. If these moments of rest and "pause" are important to us, then let's start talking like it. Stop justifying and glorifying "busy." Instead, prioritize rest with your words.
Finally, Make a List and Take Action.
Now, here’s where we get down to the nitty-gritty:
Make a list of what’s important
These are the things that you love and value - the things that make life, "life” for you.
Make a list of what's urgent.
The urgent are those things that need to get done but aren't necessarily the priority. Yes, some things will "give"… it may be social media, it may be doing the dishes that evening, it may be the extra project at work.
Prioritize the important and fill the rest of the space with the urgent.
Ever see that rocks and sand analogy? Fill the jar with the rocks (the important) and then fill in the sand (the urgent) - and that's how everything fits. If you fill the jar with the sand first, then the rocks never fully fit in. This ensures that the foundational things always make it into a day. This ensures that the thing that gives at the end of the day isn't the important but the "urgent."
Do it again and again and again. Make it a habit.
There will always be dishes to do. There will always be deadlines. There will always be these urgent needs (that we can’t ignore). But are we allowing our lives to be shaped around the urgent instead of intentionally shaping our lives around the important? Are we letting time slip by - executing all our urgent tasks and never basking in the slow, good moments?
Slowing down is a choice - one that begins in our hearts, our words, and our actions. And if we truly love the shape of the slow, prioritized life, then let's make it a habit. Today. Because life is too short not to slow down.