you set the pace

Published on April 16, 2020

You get to set the pace of your own life.

Over the last few weeks, I have spent some time reading commentary articles on quarantine culture. I have been doing so to help me learn more about how the rest of society is getting on with the current circumstances in which we find ourselves.

After reading a number of these pieces, there are two themes that I have seen emerge: this is a time that we should all slow down, or this is a time that we should all speed up.

I understand why people have adopted these stances. On the one hand, this is an excellent time to slow down. Many of us are now working from home, which has eliminated the commute from many of our lives. Many of us are also in isolation, or on complete lockdown, and so we have been forced to curtail our social interactions. What better time to slow down.

On the other hand, now that we have all this free time, it means that we could be doing more. I could likely be taking on a new career challenge right now, or spending my evenings participating in Zoom happy hours, or other social events. If you have more time, then why shouldn’t you spend it improving yourself, right?

Both of these perspectives have their place, but the way I see it is that there is no one way in which we should think about the pace of our lives during this time.

Two things can be true at once. It’s true that I may technically have some more time in my schedule. But it is also true that I don’t want to rush through my life.

In reading these articles -- and living life in quarantine -- I have come to realize that we all get to set the pace that we use to live our lives. It’s up to us to decide whether we move fast or slow, whether we “seize this opportunity” or “relax, like you should be in stressful times.”

At the moment, I have been trying to move quickly with my personal progress. I am aiming to exercise for thirty minutes every day on my exercise bike. I am also aiming to write on this blog on a daily cadence, and I am setting myself new mental challenges as I go.

However, I have also used this as a time to take a step back and relax. In the evenings, I have been aiming to detox from technology more than usual. I am setting my phone aside when I realize that I am getting bored of using it. I am spending more time with family.

I set the pace for my life. I get to decide whether I rush through my days, or whether I go slow and appreciate every last moment. I could let an article tell me how to live, but all the articles I read are based on others’ experiences, not my own.

During my afternoon snack today, I started to notice that I was rushing through eating. This made me ask: why am I rushing? The answer was that I was eager to write this blog post, which I saw to be a great way to be more productive.

After I answered this question, I started to think “well, I have a great snack here, and I am going to waste it if I don’t focus”, so I set aside my computer and focused on the snack. It was wonderful. I had set my own pace. I ate slowly, even when the world was calling.

I have also realized there is no right pace for everything. I like to make progress quickly in my professional life, but when it comes to my social life, I am still trying to find a good rhythm. And, in the early mornings, I like to go slow, whereas when I start work, I like to hit the ground running.

When I feel pressured to go fast or slow, I need to tell myself: you set the pace. You decide how fast or slow you go, not someone else. It may be tempting to adopt the same pace as someone else, but life is not a race. Life is yours to experience, and nobody will blame you if you go slower. Set your own pace, and live your own life.

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