My husband and I lived out of a car for a year on an epic road trip. Have I mentioned that? A lot of people ask us how we were able to go on such a long trip. A Toyota Rav4, privilege, and $20,000 is the short answer. The longer answer involves an interesting discovery we made along the way.
The slower we went, the longer we could go. In the first two weeks we raced across the country, driving on major interstates from Virginia to California. As the miles flew by, so did our money.
By the end of our trip we had a rule that we would not drive more than two hours in one day. We spent multiple night in one location; a weeklong volunteer backpacking trip with Grand Canyon Park, two weeks exploring free camping sites on public lands throughout southeast Utah. Less money spent with the intended consequence of deeper enjoyment at each destination and the journey in between.
I lost 32 pounds by the same approach. Through basic healthy living choices and disciplining myself to lose only 1/2 to 1 pound per week, I stretched out that weight loss goal over the full length of one year. It took me 12 months to lose 32 pounds and the greatest thing about that was that I was not gaining weight for an entire year. It would have been easier to only eat kale for 7 days and watch the pounds drop off. Going slow meant that I had to be honest with myself about changing my behavior.
I just finished stage managing for a play at the community theater. Being part of an artistic production is an exercise in putting in the work. Daily consistent intentional practice for months. Learning, accepting feedback, striving for excellence, putting in the work without an immediate reward.
It is very good practice for me. I have a temptation to want to rush things. I am not patient. I like doing activities that don’t require a lot of practice like improv comedy and fingerpainting. I love digital photography, take a thousand photos and a few are bound to turn out well. I join non-competitive team sports that don’t have any practices or training required. I would rather cook soup than learn to bake.
In work life we are encouraged to work hard, to hustle, to optimize, to set big goals and push ourselves to meet them.
What if that wasn’t the best way to create meaningful work and have a lasting impact? What would happen if we just stepped out of the hamster wheel of work harder, faster, longer and practiced moving slowly, deliberately, incrementally forward?
I visualize a slow bike race as a metaphor for slow work. Sometimes it is just as hard and takes as much skill and intention to do something slowly as it is to go fast. What would be the benefits for our work lives to take this approach?