In tenth grade, I could never get a perfect score on my math tests. I would always be the first student to hand in her test. Since I knew all the answers, it was easy for me to go through the test quickly. However, every time my teacher would hand back my tests, they would have at least one question wrong. My teacher would tell me to look over my test. I would scan each sheet of paper, looking for that red ink. The ink would often circle around a mistake that could have easily been avoided. I would have no problem doing the hard math, like factoring or simplifying the fraction. The mistake would come when I was one step away from the answer. All I had to do was add 25 and 30 (for example), but I would write down 65 and move to the next question. I knew how to do math. I learned addition in kindergarten. However, because I rushed through the test instead of taking my time and checking my answers, I would make mistakes.
Yesterday, I discovered that I still have not learned how to slow down and check my answers. I am taking a TEFL certification class so that I can teach English to non-native English speakers. Since I had off from work, and I am working every other day this week, I decided to get as much done of my weekly assignments as possible. I clicked through the lessons, taking notes and gaining insight about how to teach English pronunciation. I finished a week’s worth of notes in two hours. Since my momentum was going, I decided to take most of my assignments – five multiple-choice quizzes – at that moment. The program gave me an hour to work on each of the quizzes, but each quiz only took me five minutes to complete. I felt pretty confident because I had just read the material and I had gotten a perfect score on my first quiz. I didn’t bother to look over my work. Expecting to get a perfect score on all the quizzes, I was astonished. I got three answers wrong on each quiz. If I had taken the time to review the material, or at least to check my answers, maybe I would have done better on my quizzes.
Rushing clouds our judgment and makes it difficult to live to our full potential. When I have a panic attack, I feel a sudden urge to do anything to calm me down. If I am in a stressful situation, I feel the need to leave as soon as possible. I have noticed that this robs me of the opportunity to enjoy what I have in front of me. Sometimes, I feel anxious at work, a job I am very grateful to have. Because of a huge mistake that I made one time at another job, I often want to rush through helping a customer so that I do not make a big mistake at my new job.
Now that I have realized this, I have tried to become more aware of my rushing. Before helping a customer, I take a deep breath and consciously remind myself that I am blessed to have a job that I enjoy. I stop to ask the customer how he or she is doing. We sometimes have conversations, but most of the time my customers simply appreciate the recognition. I have been told that I have a positive attitude, and that my optimism has a good influence on other people. By taking the time to slow down and enjoy what I am doing, I am positively affecting the lives of other people as well.
What could you do if you took a break? If you feel an uncomfortable urgency, take a deep breath, tell yourself to relax, and choose to do something that will help you rather than hurt you. I have heard it said that strong emotions – both good and bad – can lead to unwise decisions. You can save yourself a lot of guilt, regret, and anxiety by slowing down and reviewing the situation. Slow down, and enjoy what you have in front of you.