Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Resume Speed

Out of the corner of my eye as I was driving 60 mph, I saw a sign at a yard sale that said, 
“Resume Speed.” A simple enough sign that most people probably drove by and didn’t even notice. But for me, the words, resume speed, struck a chord and continued to run through my head long after I passed the yard sale. I asked myself, “What am I suppose to learn from these words?”  

After reflecting on these words for a couple weeks, I believe the message that I’m supposed to learn is I need to get back up to speed. For my own well being, I need to resume speed. I need to expect more of myself. I need to push harder. I need to set more challenging goals. Life is becoming too easy, and when it becomes too easy, it becomes boring and I become boring.

I still have what it takes to “resume speed.”

What affect (if any) does “resume speed” have on you? If you’re like me, you need a reminder that a great deal of life satisfaction comes from setting goals and attaining them. That you still have a lot to give and you still have what it takes to resume speed.  Yet, without the demands of work and deadlines breathing down our backs, we have less motivation to do the things in life that we really want to do.

This was the case for Cathy, a woman that I write about in my book.  Cathy left corporate sales to pursue something that she enjoyed doing “for the love of it.” Although she wasn’t sure what that was, she was excited about finally having time to explore her interests. A few months after leaving her job it came as a big surprise when her motivation and energy plummeted. She had freed herself of the pressures and deadlines of the workplace, but she found she needed a little “fire breathing down my back” to get things done. In other words, she needed to resume speed.

Resume speed may have the opposite effect on you—you may feel a sense of relief that you don’t have to “resume speed.” Perhaps before retirement your life was extremely busy, stressful, and moving at lightening speed. This sign serves as a reminder that you don’t have to resume speed—and that is a wonderful thing!

I spoke with a friend who is a couple years from retirement. When we were talking about his work, he said, “I don’t understand why everything at work has to be done so quickly.” His day feels like a race from beginning to end. He’s looking forward to doing something different during his retirement years, such as teaching at the college level, but he’s going to do it at his speed.  He’s going to “teach, slow.”

Resume speed may also relate to getting “up to speed.” As I sit at Barnes & Noble, I am surrounded by men in their 70s and 80s who are on their laptops and have their iPhones on the table next to them. They are “up to speed” on technology. Life isn’t passing them by. They don’t have to worry about living too long, to the point that technology totally leaves them behind.

Resume speed may mean to keep your foot on the accelerator. Maybe the cruise control is set at a little slower pace (60 mph instead of 85 mph), but it is consistent. It is moving. And there is enough going on that life moves at that rate automatically. At any time you can hit the brake for a time out, that’s the joy of being flexible in retirement, but most of the time you have enough going on that you are at resume speed.

It’s interesting how little things can prompt a thought or help us get in touch with a deeper need or emotion. It happens at unexpected places and times. For me, it was simply driving by an obscure sign that revealed my need and desire to create more challenging goals and higher expectations.

When something draws your attention, pay attention.  What is the message? What is the lesson you are to learn from this encounter? Take note.  And respond.

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