How to Make Lasting Changes in Your Life “Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast.” William Shakespeare
Post written by Leo Babauta. How many times have you rushed into making changes in your life—a habit change, learning a new skill—only to have it flop? It’s not just the New Year’s Resolution Syndrome; it happens at all times of the year that we run out of steam or get discouraged and give up. But here’s the secret: go slowly. Slow-going holds more power than a gung-ho, all-out approach. Slowing down increases effectiveness and, ironically, helps us reach goals faster.
This phenomenon applies to anything: exercise, eating, art, patient parenting, carpentry, reading. Slow is the secret. Some of the reasons slow works: 1. Mindful. When you do something slowly, you pay more attention to what you’re doing—you do it mindfully, with full concentration. When beginning a new change, this increased concentration helps form a “groove.” Later, actions become automatic (habit). 2. Hold back. When we start a new change, we often begin full of enthusiasm—we go all out. We exhaust the enthusiasm quickly or get distracted by something else. Conversely, when we hold back, we build up endurance and sustain it for much longer—through that dreaded 2-3 week barrier when people often quit. If you want to run 3 miles, start with walking 1 mile. Then 2 miles. Then 3 miles. Then run-walk in a similar pattern. You’ll want to proceed faster, but slow the pace. Use your enthusiasm sparingly each time.
3. Learn it right. Learning slowly means learning correctly, without erratic hits and misses. We proceed in good form, having learned proper technique. The importance of this is If you’ve ever tried T’ai Chi (famous for its series of obvious in something like martial arts, but it’s true in slow movements and poses), you’ve felt the power of any activity. slow. The slower you go in T’ai Chi, the better. One reason is slowness allows one to perfect the 4. Increase focus. When we operate slowly, we can movements. The body adapts, forming muscle focus intently on one thing. Hence, the increased memories that will last when (and if) we speed up the effectiveness. movements. 5. Calm. Slow is calm. Fast is hectic. Go slow. Get rid It’s as if our body and mind are forming “grooves” of the chaos. Create success peacefully. through continual repetition of the movements. This is habit formation. Take, for example, the drive home. Our minds are on something else, but we make the right motions to get home anyway. By habit, our minds and bodies follow a groove we’ve formed by doing these actions many times.
“Slow down, everyone. You’re moving too fast.” - Jack Johnson