Slowing Down

My chance click on a podcast gave me a different outlook on being a “planner”

I listened to the BEST PODCAST the other day. I went to work out after a morning that left me feeling remotely discouraged about what to do with myself after college. I have a strong vision of where I want to be a year or two down the road, but it’s a matter of how to get there that leaves my brain in a jumble of worry and confusion.

It doesn’t help that I’m a planner. I like schedules, and checklists, and organization (except for my bedroom – that will never be organized as long as I live). However life isn’t always that simple. I can’t force anyone to hire me or fit into my agenda, and that often conflicts with my anxiety-driven desire to plan every step in my life.

I generally listen to the Horse Racing Radio Network while I work out. “Jock Talk,” “Trainer Talk,” and the “Equine Forum” are my favorites. The interviews with jockeys, trainers and other professionals in the racing industry are as delicious as listening to a good bedtime story. And I can almost forget that I’m sweating profusely as I tune into audios of champion racehorses battling down the stretch in memorable races. But on this particular day I was feeling something a bit more subdued as I scrolled through my app, and landed on a TED Radio Hour podcast called “Slowing Down.”

Hmm, sounds promising enough. I gave it a tap.

The podcast began with a talk about slow videos of train rides across Scandinavia that Norwegians are going crazy about. Not what I expected, but that’s nice. I considered changing it, then continued listening. Then they played a clip from a professor who’s a self-described PREcrastinator, the opposite of procrastination.

My ears pricked as he described his tendency to prepare for everything in advance. While I’m pretty decent at procrastinating in certain situations (there just might be something new to eat in the fridge since I inspected its contents 10 minutes ago), precrastinator is a better way of describing me. For example, I emailed professors to notify them I would miss the first week of classes more than a month before they started, and I ordered most of my textbooks the day they were available on Campus Connection. I get stuff done, and I like to get it done now.

Back to the podcast. The professor began listing off ways in which procrastination can be productive. Not the kind of procrastination where you wait until you’d rather have the ground swallow you up rather than writing a 10-page paper due in two hours. But the kind that stimulates creativity and gives us time to search for the best idea rather than running with our first idea. When used correctly, procrastination, or in other words just letting things sit for a while, can allow for the right things to come around at the right time.

Six speakers gave their perspectives about slowing down on that podcast. Each one had a slightly different twist on the concept, but all touted the benefits of taking a breath, a break, a long pause to allow for our thoughts to fully wrap around a concept rather than darting from the top of a checklist to the bottom.

On a related side note, my faith in God is an important part of my life. I’ve found that when I don’t have a white-knuckled death grip on every step I take down the road and instead allow Him to take the reins, opportunities fall into place as they’re meant to. This particular podcast was a reminder of this for me.

The message was in line with a quote shared by speaker Bethany Peterson at an event I introduced last Monday: “Living in the past equals depression. Living in the future is anxiety. Living in the present is peace.”

Plan and worry as I might, neither will change the decisions I’ll make tomorrow, the opportunities that will arise the next day, the people I’ll meet the following month or the position I’ll have a year from now.

Click here to check out the entire podcast

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