It’s Just Not That Important
The rush to nowhere gets you nowhere.
Posted Jan 25, 2018
The rush—sometimes it starts the moment you get out of bed! You might be late, or have forgotten to do something the night before, or perhaps you’ve overslept. It’s a mad dash to get out of the house and to wherever you need to go. You get in your car and it’s like a force takes over—you find yourself driving fast, refusing to let other drivers get in front of you and taking corners on two wheels. The mad rush continues and careens into your day.
What’s the result of the rush? Traffic fatalities have risen significantly as a result of rushing, and by the time you get to your destination you are worn out from the stress of gripping the steering wheel too tightly. You know that rushing and being anxious and worrying about whether you will get there on time—and in one piece— can impact your physical body as well as your mind. And when you rush, you are likely to make more mistakes, overlook things and be less careful with what’s most important.
So why do it? Why rush when really there is no good outcome to doing it? Most people will say they don’t want to rush–there just aren’t enough hours in the day, or they aren’t organized or prepared. They will say they have to rush in order to get everything done. But let’s look at the cost of all that haste!
Rushing seems to be the malady of the times. If you aren’t frantic, and you don’t have an unending list of things to do, there is something wrong! You must be missing something if you aren’t huffing and puffing. Maybe you can do all of the things you need to do, and step out of the mad rush.
- Resolve to have a plan. The reason most people find themselves rushing is that they know they need to do something, but they don’t have a plan to accomplish it. What time would you need to leave to get to where you need to go on time? What might you be able to do in advance to prepare–put out the clothes you will wear, pack your purse or briefcase the night before, put things in your car, or have the train schedule handy so you know what time you need to be at the station? There is an adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It means that spending just a bit of time in advance, preparing and considering and planning, saves so much time on the back end instead of rushing to complete all you need to do.
- Keep a journal. Be aware of the triggers which put you into the state of rushing. Most people have something chronic they do over and over again that defeats them (on a number of topics!) so identify what throws you into the rush. Is it always work related? Relative to your kids? Is it when you are avoiding something? Is it because you under-estimate how much time something will actually take? Do you get distracted? There are so many situations, and reasons, for any person to rush. Figure out what puts you there, so you can identify a way to deal with it next time.
- When you notice yourself rushing, stop and breathe. What? In the middle of hyperactivity, you should just stop and breathe? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of getting where you need to go? If you don’t stop, right in the middle of the rush, and calm yourself down, you will almost inevitably make mistakes and regret doing something. Force yourself to stop–for just 30 seconds–and focus on your breath; it allows your mind and your body to calm down and center just a bit. Taking a pause might be just the thing your brain needs to orient you to what’s most important. Maybe you have an ”aha” moment and become more focused as a result. In any event, the 30 seconds won’t be missed and you will give yourself a chance to be still and focus.
- Deliberately be nice: Stop for someone in traffic. Take a moment to look into the eyes of the clerk and say “Thank you,” instead of rushing out of the store. Stop and ask a disabled or elderly person crossing the street if they need help. Set your attention on “Who can I help right now?” Again, it seems counter-intuitive; you don’t have time to stop and help when your world is on fire, but that’s precisely when you should do it. This small act reminds you that the world is much bigger than you are, and whatever you are rushing about in this moment will be merely a memory tomorrow.
- Make a conscious decision to slow yourself down. Unless you are following an ambulance taking your dangerously ill child to the hospital, or about to lose your job if you are late one more time, or on the way to save your elderly parent who has fallen and has minutes to live without you there, almost everything else can wait. Yes, there are life experiences that demand you step up with vigor and push everything aside to get to where you are going, but most times it is not the case. Someone shared a story about a car steaming around them on a one-lane road – while they were driving the speed limit plus two miles, it wasn’t fast enough for the other car. Like a bat out of the dark side, the car flew by and rushed through the stop sign. The person relaying the story said that a few minutes later they pulled into the grocery store parking lot, only to see the car parked there and the person shopping inside. Really? It was worth risking life and limb to get to the supermarket? You can make better choices, and ultimately it IS a choice. Resolve not to let the rush control you and define you. Plan. Breathe. Be conscious and aware, and focus on what’s important.