I lived life at high speed during the many years I was officially employed. I learned to do things quickly and efficiently; I thought of myself as somewhat of an efficiency expert. I also learned to prioritize. Anything that wasn’t on my list of priorities could quickly be forgotten. Up until eight months ago, that was my life. Now I am learning a new way to live. Yes, I’m learning to slow down a bit. But I’m also learning to adapt as needed. I am now choosing to live my best life.
Softer Deadlines and Greater Freedom
While I still do have some weekly deadlines, they are ‘soft’ and self-imposed. If I need to slow down and spend time with people I care about, I have the freedom to do that. If a friend calls and wants to go wine tasting in the middle of the week, I have the freedom to adjust my plans and do something that we both enjoy. If I get to spend time with one of our grandchildren, I have the freedom to clear the calendar and live in the moment with those I love. I am no longer willing to allow deadlines and artificial priorities to control my life.
Learning to Adapt
Recently I’ve been forced to adjust one of the habits that I had developed over the last several decades. I had developed the routine of getting my exercise completed as quickly as possible each day. Running, and later slowing down to a jog, was the most efficient way for me to get a good part of exercise goals scratched off my list every day.
Because I had always approached my exercise in a certain way, I didn’t even consider that I might need to adjust my routines. A couple of weeks ago, I injured my left knee. Even though I was feeling pain, I still pushed myself to go for a four-mile jog because that was my routine, and it had been an efficient way to exercise when I had very little control over my own time. Not surprisingly, I could barely walk a few hours later. I was almost immobile for a couple of days. After icing my knee for a few nights and regularly taking ibuprofen, I could finally move freely enough to enjoy brisk walks and ride my bike.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to return to jogging – a routine I really do love. Nonetheless, I am learning to adapt. When I take walks, I have the opportunity to carry a trash bag with me. When I see garbage alongside the street, I can take time to pick it up; that is something that I feel is important to do. I also get to stop and talk with people if I choose. I feel a lot more connected to my community now that I’m actually paying attention to everything around me.
Slowing down has helped me feel more gratitude because of all that I can see, feel, experience, and appreciate. Sometimes it takes slowing down to truly appreciate the best things in life. Riding my bike, feeling the wind on my face and listening to the birds chattering in the trees I pass fills me with joy.
I recognize that as I continue to age, my body will continue to slow down. It is likely I will also have more injuries and greater limitations. I am learning to embrace my new life and look forward to ways I can learn to adapt as I slow down. I anticipate enjoying life to the fullest for as long as I may live. (By the way, I suspect I might live until I’m about 100—in other words, another 33 years.)
Change can bring about new opportunities. Have you discovered new ways to adapt and enjoy your life to the fullest?