A Breakdown of Speed

Ask anyone.

They’ll all say they have a busy life. And they’ll all mention how fast time is moving.

But having a gauge on just how fast your life is going can make all the difference on how much you enjoy the moments that are flying by.

Here are some of the tick-marks on my speedometer:

0-10 mph – In this range, I’m relaxed, and most creative thought I have to force to shut down, as well as no talking. Activities include laying in a hammock, napping; at most, reading fiction, at least, sitting on the couch zoned out and on the verge of falling asleep. I’m getting better at making this state intentional, but more often it’s a product of redlining. If I stay here too long, I risk becoming lazy and unproductive; if I don’t frequent it enough, I risk cracking the engine block.

10-20 mph – I’m thoughtful with my time, using it to play with my kids, have casual conversation with family and close friends, read non-fiction, and dream. Oddly enough, most of my creative ideas (as well as direction from the Lord) comes in the shower. This speed seems the most natural, but left here too long and I’ll become discouraged.

30-40 mph – Things are picking up speed as creative ideas demand energy. Tasks around the house get done, and to do lists for artistic and ministry related projects are made, notes gathered. Eventually I’ll leave the home and will have set up shop in my office at New Life. Computers fired up, and starting to engaged with projects. Things feel fresh, and the anticipation of seeing things get fleshed out is exciting. One of the more enjoyable speeds, this pace doesn’t ever last for very long.

40-50 mph – This is where projects take on a life of their own and meet one of three crossroads: #1) they are completed, #2) they are delegated, #3) they are interrupted and delayed. This is a good speed where a lot can be accomplished, but also the place where a lot of #3’s can slam the accelerator to the floor. I’m covering a lot of ground at a pretty good clip, feeling extremely productive.

50-60 mph – This tends to be the speed at which things can go wrong. One completed project provokes another; a delegated project comes back with problems; a present project gets interrupted numerous times. This is typically where frustration sets in. Road conditions, spiritually speaking, are also amplified due to the increase of speed and of the greater handling demands. If my energy level is still high and I have a good team around me, this speed is manageable for a good part of the day. But I often find myself asking for wisdom, strength, and favor from the Holy Spirit, especially as deadlines approach and I feel the not-enough-hours-in-the-day effect.

60+ mph – While only a scooter would redline at 60, for the purposes of my example, this is top speed before the engine breaks down. Here I’m going flat out. Teams are operating, projects are in and out of my office, I’m responding to phone calls, texts, emails, and knocks by the minute. I fight to keep people as my main priority and not tasks or interruptions, and try to complete small jobs that can be accomplished in under 2 minutes. Because of the nature of my work and how many different entities I support or carry entirely, my days can reach top speed within the first hour I arrive at the office for days or even weeks on end. My health – one of my ultimate redlining indicators – tends to fade quickly, and I become susceptible to colds, ear infections, and the flu. My wife is telling me to slow down, as are my closest friends. If I don’t slow down, God makes me. And it isn’t pretty.

When looking at this, it must be noted that the proverbial car was meant to drive at all these speeds. Each gear is designed to be used for various purposes. And left in any one gear for too long, and we fall into error. But if you’re using them all, someone will always criticize you:

“How come you’re being so lazy?” – The person that says this probably doesn’t know you well, and didn’t see your work week. Just smile and nod, and go back to reading your book.

“Slow down or else you’ll burn out!” – Whoever tells you this probably doesn’t know your home-life habits, nor do they understand the weight of reaching souls. There is little time.

The key is finding your stride, your pace. Knowing what gear to transition through or hold in, and when.

There’s a certain rhythm to driving, and being able to anticipate the course ahead – something the Holy Spirit is pretty amazing at – will help you know what gear to be in and for how long. ch:

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  • Christian Fahey

    Very effective metaphor, Christopher, especially the rest/inertia and speed/motion classifications. Good post!

    • Thanks Christian. Well…yeah…’cause that’s exactly…uh…what I meant by it all. Yeah! πŸ˜‰ (You have a way of pulling out the good stuff like that).

  • “Work-Life Balance”. Great post and great reminder to not worry so much about the busyness as long as you can balance it with rest and relaxation. If you cannot balance it, then you starting having problems.

    • Yeah, essentially that’s a pretty good way of simplifying it! Nice.

  • I’m going to ridiculous and guess the source of the speedometer in the image…… Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe?

    • Will. I love you. Toyota Matrix (recently GIVEN to me…yeah, for real. God it good).

  • jen

    I ABSOLUTELY LOOOOVE this post! It’s a great way to stop and look at how fast your moving through this crazy thing called life! Thanks for sharing! It gives me LOTS to think about!

    • Hey, thanks Jen! You’re a pretty super lady, always on the go. I’m sure you can relate to a lot of this.

  • Danielle

    I am hereafter going to use this awesome example. Thanks! And I think my little Geo Metro might redline about 65MPH… πŸ™‚

  • Beth

    Love this. I always feel guilty for sitting down & relaxing. This is a great reminder of how we need to relax once in a while, so we can refuel our bodies to do what God has planned for us.
    Thanks for this.

  • Dude, great post. It’s so easy yet impossible to judge someone’s ambition and initiative just on the speed they are at in the moment. I need to think about my speedometer a bit

    • Thanks Sean. That’s a great insight: seeing this as not just as self-analytical, but in having increased grace when viewing others. Thanks for bringing that out.