Life: The Yellow Traffic Light Theory

We have two choices to make when we approach a yellow traffic light. We can floor it, and rush through as quickly as possible. Or we can ease up, and take a moment to pause. The yellow traffic light defines how we choose to navigate our very lives.

For a long time, I floored it. I’m an overachieving go-getter, the epitome of Type A, trying to do everything at once and trying to do it perfectly. We have taken life and turned it into the Autobahn, evolving into thinking more and faster will give us the satisfaction we crave. Most of the time we find ourselves frustrated, stuck in traffic.

Where does all of this rushing lead?

The Red Light: How to run it
Multi-tasking is designed to be a shining quality in the workplace. It is recommended as the surefire answer to impress during an interview, and used as the determining factor for a lukewarm promotion.

But, multi-tasking also drives stress into our personal lives, crashing right into our precious free time. Evenings, weekends, even vacations have become taxing, because we’re over-compensating, pouring distractions and obligations right into the tank, and running on empty because of it.

The Yellow Light: How to slow down
Now I’m easing up. And, easing up is certainly not easy for me. I have to work hard at it every day, concentrating fully on every traffic light that I encounter.

Here are a few personal traffic laws I’ve been doing my best to obey…

  1. STOP saying yes to everything   We’re afraid if we say no to people, they simply won’t like us anymore. At work, we might be looked at unfavorably, jeopardizing our job security. But, this goes for personal time as well. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a social life. Just don’t cram too much fun into your free time. Otherwise, it becomes work.
  2. STOP distracting yourself   The world is full of sneaky, little distractions, masquerading as entertainment. Computers, televisions, phones—and even though I’m a writer and I shouldn’t say this—books fall right alongside these other culprits. During your free time, turn everything off. You might feel bored at first, but over time you’ll start to feel more comfortable doing absolutely nothing. Believe it or not, we can entertain ourselves.
  3. STOP not taking care of yourself   A lot of us feel like we don’t have time to fully take care of ourselves. But, if you obey laws #1 and #2 above, you’ll have some bonus free time in your life. No more excuses! Exercise on your days off, because you probably don’t have much time otherwise. Then take a 30-60 minute nap, because naps aren’t just for kiddos and old folks. Slow down and enjoy your food. Food is one of the finest pleasures in life—it nourishes us, providing the energy we need to function. When it’s time to eat, don’t do anything else. You should be tasting your food, savoring every last bite. So, no more eating at your desk! Get up and go outside for once.

The Green Light: How to cruise
Sometimes we need to stop in order to slow down. If you find yourself rushing all the time, stop. Then you can take a more leisurely spin through life.

It’s OK to be a Sunday driver.

8 thoughts on “Life: The Yellow Traffic Light Theory

  1. Claire Cappetta says:

    Great post and how apt the timing is. I’m taking this week off from writing.. why because I decided to! After months of 13 hour days, lol 😉

  2. IntrovertedSarah says:

    I’m a pause kind of girl. Look both ways, listen for any movement, take a packed lunch and umbrella. I have recently stopped saying yes and have practiced saying no. It’s hard but surprising how good it makes me feel.

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