In this issue ~~
Stop the world, I want to get off!
Have you found yourself saying this, as the pace of life whizzes by you? The rapid changes of the last decade are affecting everyone, but are especially dizzying to "Tortoises" — those of us who have big dreams and ambitions, but who move more slowly than most.
I began to call myself a Tortoise when I realized that despite my passion for my work, I just didn't have the energy to keep up with my colleagues. I'm just naturally a slow-paced person. Other Tortoises are challenged by limited time, health issues or the slowing down of aging.
Like many Tortoises, I wasn't willing to give up doing what I love because I couldn't make it to the top of my field. To support my drive to achieve and find satisfaction in my work and my life, I developed a series of strategies to help me maximize the energy I have.
Being a Tortoise in a World of Hares™ doesn't mean you can't achieve. You just do it from the "slow lane." To do so, it's imperative to use your resources wisely. Two ways to do that are to connect with your authentic self and to make good choices.
It's very tempting to look outside yourself and succumb to all the hype about how to succeed in life. But if you try to keep up with someone else's pace, at best, you'll achieve, but you'll be too tired to enjoy it; at worst, you'll debilitate yourself. Tortoises don't have energy to spare, so we need to be true to ourselves and succeed on our own terms.
All people, Tortoises or otherwise, are most successful when they heed their inner guidance. There's no "one size fits all" in life, and we each have to find our own way. That means setting aside time for introspection, and then learning to listen to the "still, small voice" of your intuition.
As a Tortoise, your inner voice may speak very differently than the voices you hear around you. It may take courage to act in ways that are antithetical to what your friends, family and coworkers expect of you. In the beginning, you may need to keep your plans to yourself, confiding only in one or more trusted advocates who "get" you and are willing to encourage and support you. You can learn to validate yourself, rather than looking for outside validation. Ultimately, the success you'll achieve will speak for itself.
Once you're clear on what you want, you need to make choices. Tortoises don't have the energy to throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. We need to make strategic choices, and then focus on those choices, rather than trying to do everything.
The most effective choices are what I call "growth choices," rather than "fear choices." A growth choice is one that will challenge you; a fear choice is one that keeps you safe, but limits your potential. Teacher/author Caroline Myss says that when you need to make a choice, the one that scares you is usually the one that will bring you the most growth. Get quiet and think about an option you're considering. For me, when its a growth choice, even if it's scary, my body feels open and expansive. A fear choice makes me feel tense and constricted.
Another "slow lane" strategy is to look at the scale of your dreams. You may envision being an international motivational speaker, but are unable to travel. Instead, see how you can express that dream within your local community and virtually. If you want to start your own business, keep it small and manageable, rather than feeling you have to continually grow it.
We also need to make choices about where to spend our time. With the advent of superphones and tablet computers that keep us tapped into information sources 24/7, it's crucial that we beware of information overload. These devices can become addictive -- we like to feel connected all the time and fear missing something crucial -- but they can burn us out. Set boundaries around how much time you'll spend on electronic devices, and unsubscribe from emails that are a waste of your time.
Finally, make sure to get the rest you need. Be careful not to overschedule yourself. If you push yourself to the limit, even if you manage to eke out the work, it won't be your best or most creative. And you may pay for it by spending the next day in bed. By taking your time, you may accomplish less and it may take longer, but isn't that better than overwhelming and paralyzing yourself and ending up with a stack of unfinished projects?
So, start by taking some quiet time to go within and see what's authentically true for you. Then, make powerful choices that support achieving your goals, while honoring your needs. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. By following these Tortoise principles, you'll amaze yourself (and others) with your accomplishments, and you'll enjoy the process a lot more.
Think of a big goal that you would like to achieve. What's one baby step that you could take in the next week to get that going or move it forward?
"The great French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The Marshall replied, 'In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!' "
"Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast -- you also miss the sense of where you are going and why."
"The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit."
"Slow and steady wins the race."
(click on the book to see a description at Amazon.com)
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