March 26, 2024

Who’s setting your pace?  Finding your pace in a world that wants you to speed up



The most difficult relationship I have in my life is with time.

I can find myself fighting time because it feels like there’s not enough of it.

Running out of time and trying to find more of it.

Or feeling guilty if I take time for myself.

Does that feel familiar?

It’s all too easy to become a slave to the hurry culture.

And if I’m honest, I use the phrase ‘hurry up’ with my children more than I’d care to admit.

If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves living in a rush-obsessed world.

Eating fast food.

Consuming fast information.

Moving faster.

In fact, studies show that the pace of life is 10% faster than it was a decade ago. A secret analysis of pedestrians in more than 30 cities around the world revealed that the average pedestrian now speeds along at almost 3.5mph, showing that our walking pace has risen by a tenth in recent years.

The Type A traits within me are happy about this – thinking this means we’re getting more done and more quickly!!

But the wiser part of me knows that this has profound implications for our health and wellbeing.

If you’re like me and have Type A tendencies, you’re driven and conscientious, then you, too, might find it challenging to create a sustainable pace in your life.

So, who’s setting your pace?

You might be familiar with the term pacesetter – it comes from the world of sports.

Pacesetters are the ones who dictate the tempo, leading the pack with determination and strategy. Whether it’s a marathon, a cycling race, or a swimming competition, these athletes set the pace, influencing others to either keep up. 

But beyond sports, our lives often mirror these races, with various influences vying to set our pace.

The pacesetter sets a rhythm that allows others to gauge their own performance and make adjustments accordingly. 

However, blindly following the pacesetter without considering your own needs can lead to burnout and disappointment.

So who’s setting your pace?

  • Is it comparison?

In life, we often look to external factors as our pacesetters. Whether it’s comparing ourselves to colleagues, friends, or societal standards, we may find ourselves chasing a pace that isn’t sustainable or fulfilling. Comparison can breed feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, pushing us to push beyond our limits in pursuit of someone else’s definition of success. Just like in a race, trying to keep up with someone else’s pace can lead to exhaustion and disillusionment.

  • Is it fear?

Another common pacesetter in our lives is fear. Fear of failure, fear of judgement, fear of missing out – these fears can drive us to push ourselves harder and faster than we’re capable of sustaining. Similarly, a scarcity mindset, characterised by a fear of not having enough, can compel us to work at an unsustainable pace in pursuit of material success. But at what cost?

  • Is it entrainment?

Our environment can manipulate our pace.  ‘Entrainment’ is when we start to synchronise with things around us. Whether it be the music we listen to or the people around us.   The issue is that marketers use this to their benefit to influence our mood and behaviour.  For example, supermarkets play music that influences the pace at which shoppers move through the store. Calming music is used to promote relaxation and encourage shoppers to linger, with the intention of influencing more spending. On the other hand, energetic music is used to stimulate a sense of urgency, prompting shoppers to move more quickly through the aisles. This phenomenon is not limited to music; it can also occur with other environmental cues, such as lighting and layout (think Ikea!).  Social media has a powerful influence on us and is constantly entraining us.

These influences shape our experience of time and guide us in navigating the world around us.

The athlete and motivational speaker Trent Shelton emphasises the importance of being loyal to your pace. 

Just as each athlete has their own rhythm in a race, each of us has our own journey in life. 

What works for someone else may not work for you, and that’s okay. Being your own pacesetter means honouring your strengths, needs and values. 

It means setting goals that align with your authentic self and making choices that prioritise your wellbeing.

In the race of life, it’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of trying to keep up with others. 

However, true fulfilment comes from being your own pacesetter. 

Setting a sustainable pace that allows you to thrive in the long term.

So, who’s setting your pace? Is it time to take control and be loyal to your own rhythm?

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