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Work hard, play hard, and every now and then, slow down

Modern young adults – and especially young leaders – tend to create crazy lives for themselves: jobs, taking classes, hitting the gym or yoga studio, causing a ruckus at parties, dinners out, weekend trips away, writing brilliant papers or witty blogs, grabbing a coffee just to catch up, volunteering for any number of causes, networking lunches and skype dates to stay connected, are all elements of  many modern young adult’s calendars.

Many of us value work-flow, efficiency, and getting the most productivity and action out of every moment. And I understand that – I am guilty of filling my calendar beyond it’s saturation point more often than I care to admint. It makes for an exciting life.

But that lifestyle is lacking something important. Living like that leaves me feeling anxious and neurotic after a while. It’s missing a certain slowness and disconnection that is critical to feeling balanced and in control.

I recently had an incredible week. It was one of those weeks where I could see my dreams coming true – Changing the World 101 was growing, I was getting ready for an exciting trip, and I had great plans with my friends. And yet, when I was caught up in it all, I just felt stressed because so many things were demanding my attention.

The reason I wasn’t able to appreciate the cool stuff happening around me is because I was moving too quickly.

Many successful teenagers and 20-somethings abide by the mantra “work hard, play hard.” And I dig that – I tend to live that way. But I’ve realized something: it should be, “work hard, play hard, and every now and then, slow down.”

I’ve found that to successfully slow down, you have to be clever about it. Slowing down involves indulging in those rare treats that never make it onto your calendar because they aren’t “necessary” or because they may interfere with your otherwise fast and productive life. Yet, slowing down is so important. What is the point of all the mania, the success, the craziness, and the ambition, if you can’t enjoy it?

So my suggestion to you if you are the work hard, play hard type: slow down from time to time.

Find a time when you should be working, and blow it off. Do something you just love to do, but don’t do often enough. Live in the moment for a bit. And while you’re doing it, make sure you can take your mind off work and stress. Resist the temptation to check your email and voicemail. If you invite people to join you, make sure they are people who you truly want to spend time with, as oppose to those you feel obligated to invite.

You’ll notice that slowing down from time to time will help you appreciate your life much more, and zenfully, it will help you speed up and be more productive too.

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