Prioritizing for A Slower Pace…..

One of the things that became clear to me during last week’s A Slower Pace CHALLENGE was the need for clear priorities. As the pace of your life slows down as a result of putting in place some Slower Pace principles, you will have more margin in your life — more time, more energy, more focus. However, if you do not have clear priorities — such as faith, family, health, personal growth, and others — you will end up swapping your old habits with unproductive and unfulfilling alternatives. It would be the dieting equivalent of giving up McDonalds fast food only to hit up Burger King for your meal instead of a salad bar or healthy alternative.

So what are your priorities?

Did you set them yourself or were they set by something or someone else? In today’s culture, that is a valid question.

Is what you are doing / reading / working on next because the calendar or “to do” list said so?

Many of you may have heard this next story. Imagine you have an empty Mason jar. This represents your life, your energy, your time — 1440 minutes a day, 168 hours a week — all of it finite and limited.

There is a cup of sand in front of you. This represents the many various things you need to get done throughout the day. Pour it into the jar.

Now, there is also a cup of pebbles in front of you. This represents the various commitments you have made. It can be after work activities, church programs, volunteering, sports practices, kids’ music lessons, carpool commitments — the list can go on an on. Go ahead an pour the pebbles into the Mason jar.

Finally, there are five golf balls in front of you. These would represent the major items in your life that are most precious to you. They can be many things, but personally mine consist of faith, wife, kids, career, and service.

Take your golf balls and put them into the Mason jar…..however, they do not fit. There is no more room in your life for them. It is the end of the day and you still have things left undone. You are finally home from work but have no energy for your spouse, kids, or family.

When I heard this story, I was ashamed at how often that was the case. However, there is hope.

Rewind the story back to the empty Mason jar. Now instead of the sand going in first, you make a CONSCIOUS decision to put in your priority golf balls into the jar.

Now that you have your priorities taken care of, go ahead and pour in the cup of pebbles. Shake the jar around. See, there still is room for the carpool duties, sports practices, and music lessons.

Finally, that cup of sand — go ahead and add it to your Mason jar of life. Yes, you might need to shake it a bit, or slow down your pour as the sand works its way to the bottom. But there is a high chance that you can fit it all into your jar. And even if you cannot fit all the sand in, it’s only sand. It is not a golf ball which is what you were left holding in the first scenario.

And to top off the metaphor, take a cup of sweet tea (or coffee or beer). Add that to your seemingly full Mason jar of life. Just when you thought your jar couldn’t hold any more, the lesson is that there is always time for a cup of sweet tea (or coffee or beer) with a friend.

Here is a video of the same metaphor.

So what are your golf balls or big rocks?

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

A Slower Pace CHALLENGE…..results

While there seems to be some lurking, Facebook sharing, and post observing, I haven’t seen any comments or emails relating any of y’alls stories about this last weekend’s Amish living. So I am going to assume this is one of those cases where everyone is just waiting for someone to jump in the pool first to test the water — so here goes.

 In the Slower Pace CHALLENGE post, I said I was going to lead by example and go for giving up all three:

  • Television
  • Computer
  • Mobile devices

Well, I can assure you it was not easy but I was successful. I was very surprised how instinctual it was for me to grab my phone first thing when I woke up. Thankfully, I turned off the alarm and remembered my intentions, and then put it down and proceeded to get up out of bed. No reason to scroll through email accounts seeing what came in overnight. No reason to mosey through Facebook posts to see what has transpired in the last 8 hours. No reason to check the weather — all I gotta do is just look outside. Again, it still surprised me how that morning “catch up” habit was so, well…..habitual. On the plus side, I automatically gained 10-20 minutes just by not doing anything with my phone other than turn off the alarm.

While I did not have work to go to, my son and I did have plans to head out on the canoe. Unfortunately, the cloudy, drizzly weather was not conducive to an enjoyable canoe paddle so instead he and I headed in to town for the gun show. And because I did not have any TV, computer, or mobile activity to distract me, I was able to get in my cardio workout, make the bed, and clean our master bedroom all before he even woke up. This also completely threw my wife for a loop because I never make the bed. I attribute my very productive morning to the lack of distractions.

While at the show, my son and I enjoyed time together without the distraction of social media. The only time we used our phones was to text each other our location one time when we separated. My battery was also still above 90% — another unforeseen benefit.

The remainder of Saturday allowed time for a nap, a Chick-Fil-A dinner with friends, and a worship service. Granted, the dinner and worship would still have occurred had I not been Amish and electronics-less, but it was very nice none-the-less.

Sunday, like Saturday, started off with the phone alarm going off. I still had to fight the morning “catch up” habit, but it was much easier to get going. Church was the normal electronics desert, as it should be — no change there. And the rest of Sunday included some grocery shopping, tinkering in the garage, and hanging around as a family.

All in all, for me, the Slower Pace CHALLENGE was a success. Some takeaways:

  • The mobile phone and iPad tendencies were probably the hardest habits to break. When any of us have down time (waiting in line, waiting for someone, generally waiting), the first reaction is to grab for the phone to fill up the dead space.
  • There were a few times during the weekend when I wanted to look something up or access a piece of information. That part of electronics is beneficial. But will that 2 minute Google search turn into a 20 minute Facebook foray? Kinda like the $20 trip to Costco for TP and milk turns into $150.
  • I observed that I felt I had more time available — for my family, to get things done, or just to relax. It would be interesting to run this experiment during a weekday.
  • Coming back to it all — TV, computers, mobile — #1) it didn’t take me long to catch up and #2) I didn’t miss that much. That being said, I might just incorporate some of these findings into my every day life.

So there you go, folks. It’s not too late to comment on your experience.

Or, if you missed out last weekend, run your own A Slower Pace CHALLENGE and see how it changes you. And then drop me a note here.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

A Slower Pace CHALLENGE.….follow up

Last Friday on the front end of the weekend, I put up A Slower Pace CHALLENGE to give up some of the things that accelerate the pace of our lives — television, computers, and mobile devices. And the challenge wasn’t just to give those things up, but to replace them with items more substantial — family, hobbies, faith, honey do’s, and relaxation. The whole idea was to use this weekend to pause and slow down a bit.

Well, how’d you do?

What did you notice? What did you accomplish in the absence of habits, distractions, or routines? What are your takeaways from the exercise?

Tell me your story. I would like to hear how things went. Either comment in the space below or drop me an email to “dan at aslowerpace.net” (replacing the at with an email “@”).

I will share those comments and stories along with my weekend story in Wednesday’s post.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

A Slower Pace CHALLENGE.….

With the weekend upon us, I want to put out in front of you a CHALLENGE that I hope will be hard to accomplish but worthwhile. The intent is to slow you down, remove some noise in your life, and allow you to focus on replenishment and priorities.

Select your grade:

  • Sergeant – for the duration of the weekend (Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20) elimination of ONE of the following:
    • television
    • computer
    • mobile device (tablet or cellphone – with the exception of your cellphone used for calls only, no app or internet usage)
  • Captain – for the duration of the weekend (Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20) elimination of TWO of the following:
    • television
    • computer
    • mobile device (tablet or cellphone – with the exception of your cellphone used for calls only, no app or internet usage)
  • General – for the duration of the weekend (Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20) elimination of ALL of the following:
    • television
    • computer
    • mobile device (tablet or cellphone – with the exception of your cellphone used for calls only, no app or internet usage)

I am committing to General. This is my blog and I need to lead by example. I am hoping to go canoeing again so I will have my cellphone with me, but I will pretend it is an old 90′s flip phone and will only use it for calls. Just so I don’t use any apps, I will bring along a separate digital camera.

Drop me a note in the comments and let me know what grade level you are selecting.

So what do you say? Are you with me?

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Are you checking off your list?…..

A few weeks ago as summer began, I compiled A Slower Pace list that included some enjoyable activities I wanted to do this summer.

Well, I am already checking some of them off — some multiple times.

  • buy some Bomb Pops (red, white, and blue popsicles) for the freezer to pull out on a really hot day
  • sit by the pool under the umbrella with a good book
  • take the kids to get some ice cream – COMPLETE, but I think I’ll leave it unchecked so we can do it again :)
  • take a walk outside right after a summer rainstorm
  • sit on the porch and watch the lightning bugs - COMPLETE
  • get up early in the morning and just listen to the birds and watch the sun rise - COMPLETE
  • take the family to a baseball game
  • lie on one of my wife’s quilts on a clear night and watch the stars - COMPLETE

If you have not yet started on your list, it is not too late! I encourage you to create your own list. It’s so easy. And it does not need to be elaborate or expensive. All you need to do it just create it. And then post it somewhere as a reminder to check some of them off.

After last week’s successful canoe trip, I might even need to add to mine.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

A Slower Pace weekend…..

Did your weekend contain any Slower Pace activities? Or was it just like your week, except maybe minus job responsibilities? And with today’s face paced world and the noose of technology and communications, your weekend might be just a mirage because there are still on call phones, coverage schedules, and time/location shift work arrangements.

No matter what your weekend is — Saturday/Sunday or a non-traditional weekday cluster — it is important that you take time to recharge. While vacations are the big times to recharge and renew yourself, every weekend should be a time for a “mini-vacation” — time you can take for yourself to replenish the energy you spent over the last week. I encourage you to view weekends with that mindset, and not just as an opportunity to work harder for another boss or project.

I struggle with that same mindset so I have been trying to be more deliberate with my weekend activities. I have a couple of “YES” criteria when someone suggests an activity for the weekend. If the activity includes one of the components below, it has a much higher “YES” factor and will more likely make it onto my calendar.

Is the activity:

  • Outside?

  • Electronics free?

  • Family inclusive?

If any of those are “YES”, there is a likelihood I will be doing it.

Below is a snapshot from this weekend’s activity — canoeing. It met 2 1/2 components on that list — yes, I brought along my phone (for emergency purposes) and yes, I did pull it out to snap some pictures like the one below. But the majority of the time it HAD to be in the waterproof storage on the canoe so that worked out nicely.

CanoeingBallooning

If you cannot tell, that object in the sky in the middle of the picture is a hot air balloon that was landing in the field beside us. Five went by us and one was close enough for us to talk to them.

Canoes and hot air balloons — now THAT is A Slower Pace.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

A Slower Pace cooking.….

 

One of the slowest forms of cooking food is smoking. It uses low temperatures and wood smoke to turn raw meat into deliciousness. However, it takes time, it takes patience, and it takes skill. Not the kind of things that are in abundance in our microwave culture today. But if you have ever had a great smoked brisket sandwich, a fall-off-the-bone rack of smoked baby back ribs, or a wonderful piece of smoked salmon, you already know the tasty rewards of waiting for this method of cooking.

BBQsmokerLast week I was able to finally inaugurate the smoker I have been building in the back yard. It is a part of a larger smoker – wood fired pizza oven – BBQ grill project I have been working on for quite a while. The baby back ribs smothered with my Dad’s and brother-in-law’s dry rub were a hit and will be replicated again soon.

I look forward to putting this smoker to use and really enjoying the all day smoking process, especially this summer while the weather is nice. Drop me a note and let me know if you are pursuing similar cooking escapades.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net