Learning The Art of Slowing Down

Acropolis, Athens

Okay, I have a confession to make. I am the most impatient person I know when it comes to life goals. Generally speaking I have a decent amount of patience. If you knew me personally, you wouldn’t think of me as a particularly impatient person. You could keep me waiting for an hour and would get away with very few sarcastic comments. But when it comes to producing measurable results around something I’m overly passionate about, I place a massive amount of pressure on myself to the point that I can get burned out very quickly.

This past year hasn’t been easy and I wasn’t expecting it to be either. When I quit my job last year to transition to a career as a full-time writer and blogger, I knew that my path wasn’t going to be straightforward for two reasons- one, I was learning by doing and making a whole lot of mistakes along the way and two, I would have to accept that I would not be making half as much money as I did in my finance career. Of course there are far more important things than money but money is quite important as well and anyone who says otherwise is either lying or enlightened to a point that’s beyond my comprehension.

But I wanted what I wanted- to wake up everyday and create something I loved and was proud of, and the freedom to travel as often and for as long as I pleased. So I rolled up my sleeves, enrolled myself in travel writing & social media courses, spent hours wrapping my head around the technical aspects of running a blog, put a conscious effort to better my writing, learnt new skills like photography, video, and marketing, and hustled like I’d never done in my life. And the results were encouraging- I got published in several online and some print magazines, my social media channels grew, my writing got better and I worked with a host of tourism boards, luxury hotels and tour companies. I even contributed a regular travel feature to a local print magazine in the UAE, where I’m based.

So far so good, right?

In spite of all this, I began to feel dissatisfied. Sometimes I felt like I wasn’t growing fast enough. At others, I felt like I’d taken on too much. I compared myself to my peers and that can be a disastrous thing to do in blogging or writing. I spent less and less time with my family and friends and began to obsess about my work to the point that the thought of it no longer excited me. And that was also because I wasn’t writing the kind of stories I wanted to write-other contractual obligations and freelance work that paid better took precedence.
Guess what happened next?
Writers block. Burn out. A strong desire to travel to take time off everything.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve realized that I need to slow down. My best friend has been telling me for a long time that maybe I’ve taken on too much. She’s almost always right and it’s only recently that I’ve started to accept that this time is no exception.

I don’t want my personal relationships to suffer. I don’t want to feel disconnected with the people I truly care about. I don’t want to constantly think about how to grow my social media channels, where to pitch my writings, or how to get new clients, not every minute of the day or right before I fall asleep. And I definitely don’t want to skip my workouts and meals, because I’m too busy working on the blog or my writing.

So, I’ve slowly begun to take it a little easier. I don’t beat myself up over some extra TV or music time. I take naps in the middle of the day when I really want to. I try to meet up with friends as often as I can and at least every other day. I’m still working hard, still learning every day and still hustling. But I’ve started to set aside time for my relationships and myself. I’m also slowly accepting that maybe my progress will be even slower this way, but at least I’ll still love what I do and why I do it. It was always about telling the best stories I could tell and inspiring others to believe that anything is possible if you want it bad enough. It was never about winning popularity contests or being famous. Heck, I hate the limelight.

As I’m learning to slow down and accept that things don’t always go as fast or where you want them to, especially when it involves the creative process, I’m beginning to discover the joy of letting go. Que sera, sera- and it’s liberatingSometimes it’s important to step back and look at your life from the outside to get some perspective. I thought I was marching down a path with conviction but eventually realized that the pace was going to burn me out and I wouldn’t get very far.

So I’m slowing down- because I’m not in a race. I’ll let you know how it goes. 

Have you ever gone through a phase like that? Or learned something from letting go? Fellow bloggers and freelancers, how do you deal with work/life balance?

I would love to hear about it in the comments – maybe your story could inspire me.

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Learning to Slow Down

 

64 Comments

  • Hello,

    I think it was one of the reasons why I almost quit blogging full-time. But it’s all about keeping the balance.
    Great article!

  • Great post! I totally agree with you! I learnt to slow down in my trips. And I still learning everyday to be more patient! If I didn’t start traveling, I wouldnt be so patient as I am now

  • Sierra says:

    This is not only an encouraging post, but a great reminder! Thanks for sharing with such authenticity and realizing that it is important to take time to refuel oneself, or (as a dear friend of mine likes to say), to get your “sparkle” back.

    It is about sharing stories to inspire others. Not the popularity. Not the limelight. Amen, sister!

    Good luck and keep blogging true!

  • Vanessa says:

    We’re in a similar position – always impatient and always on the go! But I’m learning to enjoy a slower speed, even during “speedy” short trips, and I’m taking more time just to people watch, eat, drink, and read.

  • Mar says:

    It is indeed a common thing. I often feel overwhelmed and feeling that there is no way I can ever get everything done that I want to do. It is a problem that unfortunately one needs to accept because the reality is that the list is never ending and there will always be more writing, more social media and more traveling you can do. It is about finding a balance that is good enough and that makes you feel happy and complete

  • I totally get this! We travel way to fast sometimes and then have to be still somewhere for a fe months to recover!

  • I totally get what you mean. When I started blogging, I wanted it all and as soon as possible. Now, 2.5 years later, I’ve decided full-time blogging is not my thing. I could have done it, but decided not to. Partly because it would take too long to build something, partly because I love my office job, too. Everything takes time and we should all realize, however it’s hard when everything around you is changing so quickly nowadays…

  • Nice work Natasha – everything you’ve said truly resonates with me, and I’ve come to the similar conclusion that I need to start to slow down too. It’s really difficult when you combine your work with a hobby to take time out for yourself, and difficult to not feel guilty about that extra TV time when this is a job where there is always something you can be doing to promote yourself more. But I’ve found getting caught up in that vicious circle really can have negative side-effects and you do find yourself burnt out.

    Enjoy slowing down these holidays – ultimately, you quit to dedcicate yourself to a job which you love, so it shouldn’t be something which stresses you out 🙂 XX

  • I completely relate to this, as I’m in the process of trying to let go of my day job to pursue my blog and traveling 100%, but it’s really not easy and can often be overwhelming and discouraging. Slowing down and remembering why you’re doing it in the first place is a good reminder.

  • Lesley says:

    Admittedly, I’m a busy traveler and I like to cover as much as humanly possible. Since having a child and bringing her along often, I need to slow down. Things like naps and extra tv, like you mentioned, are part of our travel routine now.

  • Very nice post and one we can all take read and use to reevaluate our own lives and how we need to slow down and enjoy the process and journey as much as the final outcome. Much luck to you in doing what you love and living a dream life, don’t sweat the writer’s block, it will come. I wish you much success and happiness.

  • While many people GO GO GO during travel, I have found that travel is one of the best ways to learn to slow down (depending on where you are visiting). Going to places like Thailand, where they focus more on the moment really helped me to realize this. Of course, any place that has a beach and nothing else is a great way to force you to sit down, slow down and unplug 🙂

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