Slow Down to Navigate Transition Periods with Confidence and Control
Josh Arrington | September 30 2020
Our world moves at a frenetic pace. Even with all of the changes and restrictions brought on by COVID, life is still packed with duties, decisions, transactions, and transitions. We complete one item, only to immediately address the next thing up. How do we isolate the truly important decisions in the midst of constant urgency? Even more vital: how do we treat those decisions with the proper attention and care needed?
The best first step in when navigating a transition is to force one’s self to slow down. It’s counter-intuitive; especially, when there is pressure to move forward quickly. However, making a wrong decision, or choosing the wrong direction in a time of transition, will likely prove far more costly than taking the time to make the best decisions. As Simon Sinek says, “It is better to go slow in the right direction than to go fast in the wrong direction.”
Several years ago, I participated in an Amazing Race event that covered the entire state of Texas. As an adult sponsor of this youth group event, my job was to serve as the driver for one of the teams. The rules for drivers were very clear: we could not violate traffic laws, we could not help the team complete tasks, and we had to drive strictly by step-by-step directions provided by participants.
The team members did not have any electronics and had to use paper road maps (something many of them had never seen). At one point, in their rush to get to the next destination-- some 100 miles away, they neglected to tell me to take a turn… and I knew they missed it. For 23 miles, I kept the vehicle moving at 65 miles an hour knowing we were speeding in the wrong direction. By the time they realized the mistake, their lead vanished. During the back-track to the correct exit, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to point out that their haste and excitement had caused the mistake and that this principle applied to many areas of life.
Slowing down often best begins with making time to stop. Stop moving. Stop processing. Stop the noise. Shut off the news. Turn off the phone. Move away from the things that often vie for your time and attention. Be still.
Then breathe. Seriously, carve out time to breathe. There are numerous studies that show the benefits of taking time to focus on breathing. Decreased stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, better heart rate, improved digestion and immunity: these are just a few of the documented benefits. 
Don’t be afraid to take some time for yourself in the process either. Get away to a place where you can relax and gather yourself before spending energy trying to gather your thoughts. Participate in an activity that is good for your mind, soul, body, or all of the above. As crazy as it sounds, follow the advice found in the movie Happy Gilmore and literally, “go to your happy place”. (Which hopefully is nothing like what Happy envisioned.)
Finally, prepare to engage the decision or transition you face in a controlled manner. Plan your plan. Write down the steps and timelines that need to be taken in order to arrive at the best outcome. Put the steps on the calendar before engaging any of the pertinent data. Do this in a manner that allows you to move at a responsible pace toward the needed action, rather than rushing though any of the needed steps.
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