What ‘Taking it Slow’ Actually Means
And why we never do it
It is, without a doubt, the least followed advice in modern culture. It is also the most commonly given advice, regardless of the subject: take it slow. Keep calm. Don’t rush things.
We read, we listen, we broaden our horizons with the use of self-help books, aggressively sponsored podcasts and beautiful knowledge-centric media like Quora and, of course, Medium. We follow influencers, we impulsively embrace craze-diets (often to abandon them two months later), we incorporate productivity hacks into our day-to-day and we take just-north-of-ridiculously-expensive supplements, all to become better versions of ourselves. And no matter what we’re trying to improve — our writing, our social skills, our bench press or our diet — we will be told, over and over again, to take it slow, be patient, don’t overdo it.
And then we systematically ignore it. Screw it! If a diet says “don’t go below 1900 calories a day”, I’m sure as hell only eating 1500, or maybe less, no matter how lethargic it makes me feel. I am goddamn Iron Man. “Don’t run more often than twice a week”? You bet I’m going four times. I was born for sore shins and terrible ankle mobility. Bring it. Wait, what? Invest only a hundred dollars, to begin with? Do you think I’m crazy? Here, take all my money. Put some on my credit card, too. I’m a baller, I play hard, I’ve never taken it slow, and never will.
That’s what we do. In today’s reality, “slow” has become a negative thing. Everything’s a race, so you have to be quick, or you’ll lose. We’ve grown to assume that slow and steady are for losers. We yearn for explosiveness, fire, speed, and excitement. Everything opposite of that is considered dull, lame, and boring. That’s why a ticket to the Superbowl will set you back about as much as a summer getaway and a ticket to the World Series of chess go for the price of a burrito.
But do you ever stop to think about what taking it slow actually means? Probably not. After all, to stop and think about something would require you to slow down. Which, as we have established, is for losers, right?
But taking it slow is actually the single best practice to incorporate into pretty much everything you do. If there’s one thing that would change your life for the better, it would be to take it slow a little more often. And the best thing is: you can start right now.
All you have to do is get rid of the idea that slow is bad. You have to create a new meaning for slow. Disconnect the word “slow” from the word “easy”.
Have you ever tried 10 slow pushups versus 10 quick ones? Which were easier to do? Or how about grabbing some fast food versus a home cooked meal? A 20-minute cartoon versus a 300-page book? A year of steady, clean eating versus a month of starvation and cardio?
Fast and quick are easy. They require no planning, no determination, and no strong mindset. Fast things are easy to start and even easier to abandon.
To take it slow is to be present. It’s to be conscious about what you’re doing. It’s about seeking even the slightest room for improvement, reflecting on what you are doing, optimizing wherever possible. Taking it slow is going for absolute maximization of your results. It is quite the opposite of taking it easy. Slow isn’t easy. Slow is hard. Slow takes patience and discipline, but it yields direction and efficiency.
Slow is the key to success.