Being raised in the USA is a unique experience since we’re in a very young society. Our society isn’t based on years of traditions, but is this a good or a bad thing?
We work very hard, to the point where workaholic is a compliment in some circles. We want everything in our life to be as rapid and efficient as possible. Heck, I’m an Industrial Engineer. Efficiency is what my degree is all about, but is doing things as fast and efficiently as possible really the best thing for us?
While there has been a major benefit to our culture in this industrial age with speed and efficiency, are we missing something? Does our lack of tradition not provide a basis to slow down and enjoy things previous generations learned?
Well, I think there is something to be said for slowing down. One of the greatest issues in the FIRE community once people Retire or Reset Early is that we don’t know what to do with our time. It’s so common that people’s identities are tied up in work that they also lose their identities when they leave.
Is it any surprise that when we spend so much of our time at work and proving to be so efficient at not only our work lives, but also tasks around the house — trying to be the perfect parent or partner based on what we see in social media — that we struggle so much with just relaxing and enjoying the process of doing things slowly?
When I was growing up, my mom would crochet and had so many crafts she enjoyed doing. All these skills that in a couple generations will be left for so few people. The skilled laborers and craftsmen are being replaced by industrialization. The slow time it took to make clothes, goods for the house, and tools is now dwindling.
We don’t have slow hobbies anymore. We want things done fast and we’ll multitask our way to try to get things done quickly. I know I enjoy listening to books and podcasts at 1.5x the speed to try to consume things more rapidly.
So what can we do to change our future and prepare us for an early reset? Slow down, take time for the slow hobbies, read books, cook food from scratch or at least just from more raw ingredients, grow a garden and herbs, practice self-love by taking a bubble bath, spend times with our loved ones and friends, invite them over and cook a meal with them. After doing these things, evaluate how they made you feel or at least, if you’d like to do them again.
Carve out time in your schedule to slow down for these things and try not to have hard stops at the end of that time that make you need to rush off to the next activity. Let’s get back to living in the moment, living in our communities, and building back up those real-life connections.