How I Learned to Slow Down Fast
If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share my personal story with you. It’s about how I FINALLY learned to Slow Down Fast in support of a life of happiness, fulfillment and excitement.
I instantly turned into a materialist right out of college, when I packed my 1978 Honda Civic with my worldly belongings and drove from Tampa to Chicago in search of a job at the Chicago Board Options Exchange (C.B.O.E.), the purest bastion of capitalism I had ever witnessed.
I landed a job as a Runner, literally running order tickets from desks on the trading floor’s perimeter to the “pits” where brokers and traders transacted business in what was termed the “open-outcry market.”
To an outsider it appears to be absolute chaos, but it was pure heaven to me. I proceeded to throw myself into my work and, before I took the time to consider what was happening, I had turned into a prisoner of success. As the ghost of Jacob Marley said in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: “I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” That chain was forged from the very beginning in my working life.
On Top of the World At 30 (or so it seemed)
That first job led me to a couple of business partners, both of whom shared my desire to start our own trading firm. We did so, and proceeded to become financially successful beyond our wildest dreams. By the time I was 30 years old, I was on top of the world. I had everything I ever wanted (or so I thought). But that wasn’t enough. Instead of reveling in the joy of a life in balance, I had bought into a seemingly impossible mandate – a relentless drive to get further in life at almost any cost.
At the age of 32, I still couldn’t see that I had become an absentee husband and father because I was so preoccupied with trading and managing the firm. When our company grew to over 150 people, my partners and I decided to sell ourselves to a global investment bank so that we could get bigger and make more money.
This meant that I’d commute from Chicago to New York every Sunday and return home to my family late Friday evening. I very much resembled a Zombie at that time – not knowing exactly where I was, and not being able to give anything of myself because my mind was always on work.
The Great Escape
After two years of pure hell – physical, mental, and emotional – I had had enough. Having read dozens of self-help books, I began to realize that there was so much more available to me. Life is too short to live the way I was living.
Thankfully, I had an opportunity to free myself of my employment contract and I got out, barely escaping alive. My wife and I packed up our kids and headed for a quieter life in southeastern Wisconsin, where I began to pursue a more enjoyable and rewarding life.
My kids were young then, but I truly regretted the time I had lost and knew that I could never recapture. I’ve since devoted myself to doing what is most important to me – spending time with my family.
Changing my life enabled to me to be present as my kids grew up.
Since I altered my lifestyle and workstyle, I managed to devise a schedule around having breakfast with them before school, and greeting them after. Not just once, but as a regular routine. This one small act has made such an overwhelming difference in my life and in my relationships with my wife and children. We’ve had dinners as a family and enjoyed supporting one another as each pursued their interests, whether they were sports, music, theater, or friends. I’ve been the proud papa, guiding them on to high school, and then the college years, and thoughts of the kind of people they’d like to become in their adult lives.
It’s a very different life than the one I was careening toward in the early part of my career – one that I’m grateful I had the chance to save before it was too late.
And it’s never too late to completely change your mind about the kind of person you want to become and the impact you make on the world.
Today, having established a rewarding coaching practice with SlowDownFast.com, I help people just like you to see beyond the day to day. .