Forget slow! Try working fast

Personal development guru Steve Pavlina thinks too many people “use the ‘enjoy the process’ mantra to justify slogging along slowly and watching your goals die.”

He suggests that you’re limiting yourself by assuming that going faster means you’re doing something wrong and creating too much stress.
Here’s more of his insight on why — and how — he recommends you speed things up.

Speed of light - going fast

Let’s speed things up

Making goals happen faster is often a lot more fun. Fast tempo is how you enjoy the process. And some goals cannot be achieved slowly at all, so in many cases faster means success while slower means failure.

If going faster makes the process of achieving your goals less enjoyable for you, you’ve probably chosen the wrong goals to begin with. In fact, if you don’t want them sooner, you probably don’t really want them at all.

On my first attempt at college, I tried going at the normal student pacing towards graduation. I found my classes boring and uninspiring. The goal of graduating in four years seemed distant and too much out of my control. The whole experience was pretty depressing, despite the fact that I was attending the number one school in the nation for my major at the time.

I did my best to enjoy the process by having more fun outside of class — getting drunk twice a week and playing a lot of poker. That helped — I certainly enjoyed the process more, but it didn’t help me on my path towards graduation. After three semesters, I was expelled, and rightly so.

I took a year off, then tried again. This time I tweaked the goal to make it more fun and inspiring — to start over as a freshman and earn my 4-year computer science degree in 1.5 years.

All I really needed to tweak was the speed. That brought many other inspiring elements to the table — the full engagement of my mind, motivation, focus, curiosity, different ways of thinking about education, a sense of control over the process, higher self-esteem, access to deeper resourcefulness, a powerful vision of myself as being more productive than ever, and so on. This was the inspired path. The energy I felt upon considering a serious speed increase was a clear sign that I was onto something.

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It also worked. Speed made the goal fun and meaningful. It brought interesting challenges.

>> How to think faster & how to work fast

I reveled in the time management aspect. Finally, I had a goal that felt worthy of me, not the mind-numbing snail’s pace of my first attempt at a college education. After all, if 15 semester units equates to 15 hours per week of classroom work (the average for a full-time student), then where is all the extra time going? A serious full-time student can invest a lot more than 15 hours a week in classes. Homework alone isn’t enough to fill in all the other hours of a week.

Instead of making the goal more terrifying and stressful, the faster pacing made the goal so much more fun. I loved the experience!

Speed forces you to boost your focus and let go of more

What I love about speed is that it pushes me not just to achieve the goal but also to become a better person along the way.

In order to achieve a goal faster, I have to change myself. I have to release more limiting beliefs. I have to become more organized. I have to focus better. I have let go of more fluff. I have to cultivate new relationships with like-minded achievers. I have to get better at avoiding distractions. Since I love personal growth, goals that challenge me in this way are so much more fun than goals that don’t. The speed aspect is what helps me enjoy the process. Without sufficient speed the enjoyment just isn’t there.

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Imagine playing your favorite game at one tenth the speed. Does that help you enjoy the game more or less? For some, maybe it does help. Chess can be enjoyable at a very slow pacing. I’m not suggesting that all goals need to be sped up.

Just don’t rule out speed as being negatively stressful. Not all stress is bad. A fast tempo can create a lot of eustress — positive, beneficial stress. It can also mean the difference between achieving a goal and failing to achieve it. Going so slowly that you fail to achieve your desired outcome usually isn’t much fun. You can always justify such failure in retrospect with, “Well, at least I learned something,” or “I still enjoyed the process” mindset, and that can help… but wouldn’t it have been even better to gain the lessons and to achieve the goal as well?

Exploring your need for speed

How much faster is better? I’m not talking incremental speed increases in most cases. I’m suggesting that you consider a double increase in speed at least. Even think about a 10 times increase.

Look at one of your goals and ask yourself, “How could I achieve this goal two times, five times, or even ten times faster?” I love the 10 times question because it really gets me thinking in new directions.

Infographic - How to work fast
Click to see a larger version & more

Going fast is one of the things I love about writing. It’s why I’ve written so much. If I wrote as slowly as many other writers do, I’d be underground with a bullet in my decaying skull by now. Going too slowly is a creativity killer for me. I have to write fast to enjoy the process.

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These days I can write a 2500-word article in about 2 hours flat. That includes the time from when I get the initial idea to when it’s fully written, edited, and published on my website. Many writers I’ve talked to consider that very fast. I consider it fun.

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This morning I got up at 5am. I got an idea for a new article at 5:20am. And now this 1100+ word article is published a little after 6am — less than 45 minutes from idea to publication.

That pacing is fun. I enjoyed those 40-odd minutes. I could have taken all morning to write this piece, but why go so slow? Fast is fun!

Yes, quality may suffer

At a higher speed, I’ll make more mistakes. I may not be as elegant or polished, but so what? I can be blunt instead. I’ll get the ideas shared and moving. Some people will benefit from them. That’s what matters. Keep the energy moving and flowing at a pacing that feels exciting. Go too slow, and the ideas shrivel and die.

Today I decided to take on the challenge of writing for about 12 hours straight — fast — just to see how much content I can create and how quickly I can create it. I intend to keep writing throughout the day with only brief breaks for meals and mental rest as needed. I’ll publish the articles produced over some weeks, not all at once. A challenge like this is a way for me to enjoy the process of writing even more.

Note that going faster doesnt mean working crazy long hours necessarily. It means thinking differently about your work, focusing yourself, and having more fun.

Would you enjoy the process of achieving your goals even more if you doubled, tripled, or increased your pacing tenfold? Pick a goal and ask yourself, “How can I multiply my speed by 10?” See what fresh ideas bubble up from your subconscious. See if you feel any added energy or excitement from the speed. Then go!


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