The Entire Meal is in the First Bite
Paradoxically, we live in an age when speed and results are put on a pedestal high above savouring the moment and choosing to take things at a nice, gentle pace. We are urged to move faster, to achieve more with less, and to get to our (or our boss's) end goals at all costs.
Whilst the ability to chase goals and dreams is an undeniable gift and a worthy outlet for our time and endeavours, our goals need to be kept in the correct context; for whilst the end destination is the ultimate reward, the true learning and growth experiences are found in the journey.
Move Slowly; Eat Slowly
This concept can be surmised neatly in the context of eating. Have you ever noticed just what a rich and overwhelming sensory experience eating can be if you move slowly?
Typically, when our food lands in front of us, we ravenously shovel it down our throats just as quick as we can manage; with company the rush lessens only slightly. When males eat together in particular, the implicit understanding is that the person who finishes first is the “winner”. Such unconscious alpha-male bravado achieves little for anyone involved, and actually takes away from an inherently connected experience.
Here's an interesting concept for you to try out: the next time you sit down with a steaming and delicious meal in front of you, rather than competing unconsciously to get it down you as quickly as possible, simply move slowly. Try to realise that the entire meal is in the first bite. If you give it a go, you'll know what I mean.
Simply take a small-ish mouthful, move slowly and savour every moment; every subtle flavour, every distinct texture. Notice what you are feeling inside when you give your full attention to what's going on in your mouth. Chew slowly and deliberately, in spite of the subconscious urge to speed up. Experiment with the variety of sensory experiences that unveil simply by moving slowly and paying full attention. Feel the change in your sense of inner peace and connectedness as you purposefully enjoy your food.
I jest you not; just one attempt at this will convey to you that truly the entire meal is in the first bite. You'll realise that this simple act of slowing down and paying attention to your experiences gives you easy access to the end-goal you originally had: to truly enjoy a delicious meal. Sure, if you had just forced your meal down as usual, you would have (almost) reached the same end result, but the entire process of reaching your destination becomes inherently more rewarding when you move slowly.
How Does This Relate to Personal Development?
Moving slowly is a virtue in several aspects of personal growth; however in this instance I shall limit the analogy to the areas of making decisions and going for goals. Both of these examples will demonstrate the undeniable benefits of taking things slowly.
When we make a big decision in our lives, such as leaving an unfulfilling job or relationship, moving abroad, or starting our own business, we ought to be relying on our gut feel and instincts to ensure we make a well-rounded choice that will serve us well. Whilst this can be tricky, learning to rely on your intuition is a skill you can develop much like any other; however this is not the focus of this article.
Instead, I am considering what happens after you make a big decision. In my experience, the time immediately following a big decision is when we most need to move slowly; for it is easy for fear, doubts and trepidation to sneak in through the back door, whilst we are almost fully occupied by our newfound sense of satisfaction and liberation. This little irony of life will not be lost on anyone who has recently made a major change.
Post Decision Doubt
No matter how convinced we were to follow our gut feel, when the dust settles after making a major change even the most courageous of us can be loathe to second-thoughts, and we often begin questioning our internal guidance system. Naturally, questioning an irreversible decision that has already been made is akin to asking your Dentist if the root canal is really necessary, moments before he finishes up with his drill. Try to live by the belief that the time for brainstorming potential negative outcomes is before you make a decision. Once the decision is made, you need to be in a positive and resourceful goal-achieving mode to make your preferred outcome a reality. Any doubts are simply a waste of time and energy.
The double-edged sword here is that in our attempt to overcome fear and doubts, we often rush head first into our new endeavours, determined to succeed no matter what. Rather than moving slowly and soaking up the abundance of opportunity for learnings and growth, we instead put our heads down and “work tirelessly” to ensure a positive outcome. If this is the case, have we really gained anything except a new backdrop to our lives? Are we really liberated by the decision that was expressly taken to liberate us?
A New Way to Approach Goals
My argument is thus: whilst aiming for and reaching goals is paramount to a sense of inner achievement and well-being, we must remember to savour the moment and enjoy the journey. The entire meal is in the first bite, and our entire goal is in the first step. Your positive outcome is already here with you, now, which you will sense to be true when you move slowly and listen to your inner wisdom. Just by taking the first step, you are in essence making the entire journey. There is no need to rush this magical realisation; just listen to the wisdom inside of you. When you visualise your goals and dreams when taking that crucial first step, the end-game is already there inside of you.
There can be no failure if you take one slow step at a time, and keep track of your surroundings and mistakes as you do it. If you move slowly, at your own pace, and enjoy every step, you will realise that this is the only way to derive pure gold from your experience.
Fear and Courage
Don't worry if you're scared after making a big decision. We all have irrational fears. Maybe it's even a “rational” fear like losing your income or house that causes you to panic and rush to your new goal. Nevertheless, the basic principles remain the same: move slowly; learn from your mistakes; grow as a person; and keep just one eye on the prize. If you do this, I really can't see how you can ever “fail”.
Try to remember that courage is not an absence of fear, but simply acting in spite of fear. The cure to fear isn't rushing head first into a new situation with teeth-gritted and fighting desperately for success; the cure to fear is realising that it is all in your head, and choosing to liberate yourself by moving slowly, and learning from your new experiences.
You should be having fun once you have made a big decision, and why wouldn't you? Try not to attach too much importance to the final outcome. This isn't easy, and is counter-intuitive, but success genuinely seems to flow much faster when you don't beat yourself up about what could go wrong.
If you consider that the entire meal is in the first bite, it follows that your entire goal is in the first step. Pay attention to this first step and relish it; it is an oft-quoted musing from successful people that the real fun is in the journey, and not in the reward. Don't be another case of somebody who realises this (frankly obvious) truth too late.
Enjoy every step. Learn everything you can. Pay full attention to each nugget of wisdom you uncover. Have fun, move slowly, soak it up. Live life on your terms. Unplug from what the media and government tells you to do. Follow your dreams, and move slowly throughout.
Life isn't a race, it's a challenge for you personally. Push yourself by all means, but don't replace one stressful reality with another.
A Call to Action
If you haven't made a big decision lately, I challenge you to make one. Listen to your internal guidance and follow its wishes.
Taking big decisions typically requires you to grow and step well outside of your comfort zone, and often brings you closer to your true desires. Overcome the fear of growth, and the comfort of inertia, and decide to change something in your life that you don’t like.
How can you do this when the whole world is telling you to do the opposite? Do you really believe that you’re “lucky” to be in a job you hate, and that “security” is the most important thing to you?
Well, the solution is simple: Ignore them. The news may tell you there is a recession, but your instinct tells you that you will find a way to make ends meet doing what you love, so you take a deep breath and go for it. Society gleefully informs you that to get ahead you need to sweat and break your back, yet your intuition points out that there are scores of people creating abundance doing what they love in a relaxed manner, so you brainstorm relentlessly until you can see a way to do it yourself.
Which do you listen to? The media, or your internal guidance?
Why would you? Just because it's news, doesn't mean it's right. Just because the masses do something, doesn't mean you have to. Work out what your dreams are and follow them, however you can. Don’t settle for anything less than total satisfaction.
If it's too soon for you to get outside your comfort zone, at least allow the idea to swim around your consciousness for a little while. Let your current life situation make you feel despondent and uncomfortable if you must, for these are the states that will drive you to action.
My goal is to inspire you to face up to your deepest desires, and begin to make them a reality. At the moment, the only reality you are creating is the one chosen by your company's CEO, The Bilderberg Group and by Murdoch and the other media barons. Are you happy with this? Do you wake up every day feeling lucky to be alive? Or do you live in a perpetual state of light fear and unease?
Change your life up. If it all goes tits up, what's the worst case scenario? Lose a few dollars? Lose a house? Ask yourself this: has anyone ever come back from greater adversity? I reckon they have. Does the upside make the risk worth taking? 90% of the time, I'd argue “yes”.
Life is too short – so endeavour to make a big decision today – or plant the seeds for a decision at least - and enjoy moving slowly while you work out how to make your new vision a success.
If you have recently made a big decision, congratulations. My call to action for you is simple: move slowly, keep learning, and above all, enjoy the challenge.
Don't rush to the end for the results. Savour every moment that you can. This is the stuff that character is built of, so soak it up and grow as a conscious person as you do so.
I'll finish with two food analogies which emphasise the need to move slowly: First, don't scoff your meal down. Take your time to savour every bite. Realise that the entire meal is in the first bite. The joy in life is in overcoming challenges and doubts, though we often forget this at the time. Enjoy reaching for your goals as much as you will achieving them. Don’t make the journey a means to an end; look out of the bloody windows and see what’s passing you by. You never know, you might stumble upon something that can truly help you to get where you want to be.
Second, if you haven't decided what you want from life yet, be picky: don't order chicken if you really want steak. You'll soon find out that no matter what you order, if you put in the work, persist, and move slowly, you'll get whatever it is you fancy. Don't spend your life setting “achievable” goals and chasing chicken, because when you catch it you'll just wish you'd ordered a fillet mignon instead. Move slowly towards that steak, rather than going flat-out towards the chicken. You won’t regret it.
Feeling Inspired? Subscribe to my blog via the RSS feed (top of page), or sign up to my free monthly newsletter which will help you to chase the life of your design. Pop your email in below: