When my clients first come to me, they want to figure out what they want to do next in their lives, and they feel overwhelmed by the task of getting clear. Often, they’re afraid they’ll never find the answers, or if they do create a clear vision, they won’t be able to make it happen. The anxiety keeps them up at night.

Too Fast or Too Slow

My new clients typically react to their anxiety with one of two responses: They either speed up or slow down more than is helpful.

Moving too fast looks like expecting themselves to change their lives in one fell swoop, not prioritizing amongst their many commitments, saying yes to more than realistically fits on their plate. 

Moving too slow looks like putting their head in the sand and staying stuck, not doing what they need to do to get clear. When people get stuck in inaction, they often believe they should move faster than is humanly possible. But since they can’t move so quickly, they don’t take action at all. 

Love is 90% Pacing

I was in a book group many years ago when one of the participants shared the quote: “Love is ninety percent pacing.” 

While I don’t know who originally crafted this quote, I interpret it to mean this: The task of bringing work you love, work you’re called to do, into the world, is a matter of pacing yourself wisely. 

To say yes to your calling, don’t try to leap from Point A to Point B in one single bound. (If you do, you’re apt to trip over your own feet and end up bruised and hurt.) Instead, take baby step by baby step. Discern what is possible and do that (not more, and not less). 

My Lessons in Pacing

I tend toward the too fast side of the spectrum. My inner Overachiever has gotten a lot done in this lifetime so far, but not without costs. 

This pandemic—and the privilege of working for myself, from my home—has challenged/invited me to investigate the pace that serves me best. 

As Kai turns a corner into his teenage years, I’ve decided to prioritize our relationship and stop sacrificing my quality of attention or time with him. Likewise, I’ve felt called to devote time to almost-daily journaling, yoga, prayer, and walks with friends. 

To say yes to any calling, we must cross through a gate. And to cross through the gate, we must pay a price. In other words, to say yes to one thing, we must say no to another.

To say yes to my callings—to nurture my relationships with Kai and myself—I’ve had to say no to working as much or as fast as before. Now, rather than setting out to accomplish a goal in one month, I’m giving myself two months instead. My Overachiever has had to take a back seat, which still feels uncomfortable at times, but it’s worth it.

What About Your Pace?

I am painfully aware that few of us have the privilege to determine our own pace at all times. In this capitalist society—whose rhythms are so disconnected from life’s natural rhythms—we have to work to put food on the table. To pay the bills, nurture our relationships, care for our bodies, and make a contribution—all in the same year—we have to get creative.

Today, I want to offer you less of an instruction and more of an invitation. I invite you to get curious about how you’re pacing your life. Do you need to slow down? Speed up? In what ways might you change your pace—even with the creative barriers presented by the pandemic—to say yes to how you’re called to live?

Practice: Getting Curious About Pacing

With this in mind, I invite you to grab your journal and a pen. Then, get settled in your body. 

Write on the top of the page: If love was ninety percent pacing, what might I do differently?

Set a timer for five minutes. (Yes, five minutes can be quick. It can also be transformative.) Then, write down whatever arises in response to the question.

You might feel confused by the question, or you might feel clear. Either way, get curious about what comes up. Write it down. Keep your pen moving.

When you’re complete, take a step back and notice what arose. Notice any insights that you’re taking away. Witness how you feel in your body. 

If you still feel confused, know that confusion is an invitation to get curious. Over the next week, get curious about your pacing. When do you need to do a little bit more? A little bit less? Keep asking. Don’t wait too long to honor the answers that arise. But also, do not expect the answers to come too fast.

As Rainer Maria Rilke wrote in Letters to a Young Poet:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Wishing you right-sized pacing and lots of curiosity on your journey ahead,


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