Full Speed Ahead Is No Way to Live Life
No matter where we want to go, there’s only one way we seem to want to get there. Fast.
I’ve always been a freakishly goal-oriented person. Of course, I’m also impatient. You put these two things together and the end result can be a disastrous mountain of stress.
The unfortunate thing about pushing ourselves to move as fast as we can toward wherever we’re going is that we never appreciate the journey. It’s like driving 80 miles an hour down the freeway, only watching the exit signs, and never looking around at the scenery.
I’ve always moved faster in life than I normally should have. I’m not quite sure why that is other than an overwhelming need to succeed, to achieve something, to be someone.
Another downside to moving forward fast is that once we get where we’re going, we’re never satisfied. I’m the kind of person that is never satisfied.
Nearly destroying myself
In my mid-30s, I had the world in my hands. I had a wonderful budding career. I moved up quickly. In the span of seven years, I was promoted four times. I should’ve been perfectly happy where I was. I wasn’t.
Pushing myself to move into my next position, I nearly ran myself into the ground. I was a single mom serving on two nonprofit boards and chairing a committee for a large charitable organization. My job responsibilities grew.
I did anything and everything to make it look like I was worthy of that next promotion. I wanted to be impressive. I burned out and the promotion never came. You think I would’ve learned. I didn’t.
Once again, I’m standing here on the cliff of burn out. It feels like the fall down is a huge drop. For the last year, I’ve been a single parent again, worked a full-time job and a part-time job and tried to maintain a social life. When I would throw in trying to date, my world would become a crazy place.
In the last few days, my thinking has switched somehow. Something in me felt a stirring. I’m 45 years old and I’ve been working my ass off to try and hit semi-retirement in five years.
That doesn’t make sense for anyone. I don’t know anyone who is semi-retired at 50 that didn’t make boatloads of money early in life or marry a spouse who did. I’ve done neither.
What I’m searching for now is satisfaction. Now. Not in five years. Not in 10 years. Today.
This is hard because something inside me has this ingrained idea that where I am now, what I am now, and who I am now isn’t good enough. Things can always be better. I can always be better.
Our problem, my problem, is that every single time that we set a goal or milestone and we hit it, we do the same thing. We move the next milestone further out. That means we work harder. Push ourselves further.
Our own personal drive turns into a monkey bar set of brass rings. We can grab one but there’s always one ahead of it. Eventually, we’re just going to run out of energy.
I’m moving into a phase of my life where I’m doing something that seems counterproductive. I’m getting off the monkey bars. Let someone else be the monkey for the while.
What I want to do is land in the sand like a kid and enjoy what I just did and enjoy the moment that I’m in.
I’ve been nearly incapable of enjoying the present. I tell myself that I’ll be happy when I get a bigger job/have more money/travel farther/any other sham measure of success. I don’t tell myself that where I am now makes me happy.
The reality is that I am happy now. But, only when I stop for a minute and look around. The scenery on the side of the freeway is pretty beautiful. We just have to stop looking for the exit. There’s nothing wrong with rolling down the road for the sake of enjoying the drive. Let me know if you want to hop in.