Slow Down, Speed Up, Lower Your Expectations.

Greetings from Pital, San Carlos, Costa Rica. It’s hot and 90% humidity. Maybe that’s why I’m in a foul mood.


So up until now, most of these posts have been about travel and lifestyle and beaches and resorts in Central America and fruity drinks with sand between our toes.

Not today.

We are going to talk about something real. A problem. A difficulty that I’m currently experiencing. Maybe you can help…

Unedited. Typing it right into WordPress. Just my thoughts as they come through at the moment. 

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I ran across this meme. It seemed very fitting, especially today. Most of what I thought would happen today didn’t. From the time I woke up, until the very minute I am writing this article, nothing went the way I thought it would. And I’m starting to learn that in Costa Rica, and likely many other countries, that’s just the way it is.

Don’t get me wrong, the pace of life here is what I long for. The problem isn’t so much the lack of urgency or the general spirit of “island time”. It’s that I am still living between both worlds.

In my day to day life I deal with housing. I’m a home builder. I’m a realtor. I’m a landlord. If it has to do with houses, I deal with it – in one fashion or another. It’s also a life built on timelines and urgency. In the real estate and construction arenas everyone needs something yesterday. You get used to by the minute responses, checking email 400 times a day, having to immediately respond to text messages. Wanting to throw your phone out the window…

I’ve gotten better.  A couple years ago I stopped checking email over the weekend. Friday at 5 till Monday morning – if it’s that urgent, you’ll probably call. That was a major shift for me. It was for the better. I’ve learned that there are people that don’t respect your time. Those are people that you don’t want to do business with in the first place. So you let them go. I’ve also been fortunate to be able to delegate. We have great employees that work with us, and now they are the ones handling the majority of the urgency. No more 7am inspection calls… whoohoo!

But it is still there. I am still running the businesses. I am still taking the calls from the renters. I’m still at the top of the chain when a problem needs solved, or a decision needs made.

And there-in lies the rub…

I may physically be in Costa Rica. But my mind is in Charlotte. My mind is in one of the businesses. My mind is focused on urgency, and appointments, and handling all of the tasks as quickly as they come in so as to not get overwhelmed.

So I am geared to expect things to happen quickly. When you need them. And that just isn’t the case here. But it’s also what draws me to this place. A slower pace of life.

I do my best to live in both worlds at the same time. Trying not to be too lax with the people back home, and at the same time not being too demanding of the people here. But it is difficult.

Maybe if my only concern was if the newly arriving Yogis have clean linens and enough eggs it would be different, but I doubt it. 

I’m reminded of the book Be Here Now by Ram Dass. I want to be here now, I want it more than you can imagine.

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Of all the scenarios I worked through in my head, situations that may arise, unforeseen problems, this was not one of them. 

Time will tell how I fare, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted…see what I did there?

How do you stay present? How do you switch speeds?

Feel free to comment. I would love to hear from you.

3 thoughts on “Slow Down, Speed Up, Lower Your Expectations.

  1. Tori Younger says:

    To a certain extent, I think we all experience the “take your time, hurry up” as Kurt Cobain sang. You’re a busy guy in ONE place, let alone straddling the Equator. You can only accomplish what can actually occur – you’re dealing with an entirely different culture vs. the hustle and bustle of business as you’re used to. Not to sound cliché, but it will all work out according to plan. It might not happen at your pace, but we all believe in you.

  2. Living in Guam and Hawaii for 9 years, I completely understand the challenges with the change of pace. For the first few years I was always catching myself identifying inefficiencies. Last five years or so, it became part of my life and never noticed any different. Definitely miss it!

  3. Shelley Hughes says:

    This is definitely an era of immediate gratification because we always have our smart phones attached to our hip. People feel like you are ignoring them if you don’t answer your phone right away first time it rings (and if you are a conscientious business owner you feel
    Guilty if you don’t answer), we constantly checked Facebook to see if anyone reacted to the last post even when we just posted a pic of our puppy or the last thing we ate like anyone cares…their lives are just as busy they could care less about our breakfast…and as a business owner clients always think I am available anytime day or night so it can easily bleed into our dinner time or weekend relaxation. But I learned very early in my career that there must be clear boundaries in your work and personal lives from my mentor. Most clients will respect this if you state your business hours upfront…or just don’t answer the phone…plain and simple. I still have trouble shutting my brain off after hours though…not sure that will ever change for good business owners who care about how they run their business and if clients are happy. But at the end of the day, you will not be able to make everyone happy and answer every questions immediately no matter how hard you try. As for the delays you are experiencing in another country, when I have clients or employees that don’t have the same urgency as I do it is very frustrating but I find that if I negotiate a deadline upfront or follow up often things will happy faster. Try saying, “can you have an answer for me by noon tomorrow so I can move forward with my tasks that need to be completed before I leave this place? And if not by tomorrow, when?” Let them tell you when they can accomplish by so you are not sitting by your phone waiting with baited breath for a response or getting angry because you haven’t gotten one in the time you thought it would take. Move on to the next task that you can accomplish without this answer. And “take a deep breath”! It will all work out in due time. I believe things happen when and how they are supposed to in the end.

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