Have you ever driven down a highway and then, all of a sudden, you find yourself doing 65 MPH in a 45 MPH work zone? You’ve missed the more than fifty orange warning signs and for some reason were totally oblivious to the flashing yellow lights and large orange barrels. If not, good for you – if so, then don’t feel bad. It happens to just about all of us and just the other day in happened to me but this time I actually learned something from the experience. (And it didn’t take getting a ticket to do so.)
As I sped through the work zone it occurred to me that what was happening on the road may also be happening in our daily lives, either at work, at home or both. We’re speeding through days, weeks, months and our lives without slowing down or paying attention to our warning signs.
Our drive to provide, to succeed, to meet the demands of what is expected of us from others and to meet our own expectations is forcing us to feel as if we can never slow down. We’re working longer hours, trying harder to exceed our personal and professional goals and in between trying to make sure our responsibilities to ourselves and families are met. In addition, the added stress of a recession-induced environment has everyone trying to make sense of constantly a changing marketplace. These factors may be contributing to a “move fast or die” attitude but it may be doing more harm than good and it may be time to think differently.
For the first time ever once I saw the “Slow Down” sign I actually did it. I didn’t contemplate how long it would take me to get out of the work zone, whether or not there was a police officer in sight, or the insane rational behind the thinking that since there were no workers it was o.k. to continue to do 65 mph. This time I pulled my foot off the gas, dropped back in my seat, and enjoyed the ride. It was a refreshing break and one that I didn’t even know I needed, that’s the scary part. (and perhaps that was the biggest lesson of all) We get so caught up in what seems most important at any given second that we forget how to keep things in perspective, we forget how to slow down and that isn’t good.
If we don’t take time to slow down then we’re headed for trouble. Imagine those early “Road Work Ahead” signs, flashing lights and big barrels as projects, deadlines, or even our health. If we keep missing them because we’ve convinced ourselves that moving faster is what it takes, or ignoring them because they are not a priority “RIGHT NOW” then all of a sudden we”ll find ourselves in a work zone where moving fast becomes prohibitive and costly. Those small projects become missed opportunities, missed deadlines become big problems, and is there really any need to go into what happens when we ignore our health.
It’s important to slow down, to prioritize, to think of others (like those workers on the side of the road), and maybe even to find value in the slow lane. After all, there are opportunities there too.