Slow Motion to Fast Forward Ratio

July 20, 2006  

I recently saw the movie “Click” with Adam Sandler. Although it wasn’t a great movie, it did get me to think more about what happens when you make your life about goals.

Sandler’s character (Michael Newman) is given a remote control that allows him to control not his television, but his actual life. He can use the remote to fast forward his life past the parts he doesn’t like, rewind his life to re-live (but not change) past events, and he can run his life in slow motion.

It turns out that Newman’s favorite is the fast forward button. As I watch, he fast forwards past his morning commute and skips past arguments with his wife to the point in time where they make up. He fast forwards past any cold or illness straight to recovery, and skips through the tedious parts at work to get directly to his next promotion. I’m watching this thinking, “Cool. I could really use one of these gizmos.”

But there’s a catch.

When Newman arrives at the time of his promotion, he discovers he’s still not happy. So he fast forwards again. Next thing you know, his life is whizzing by him. Of course, there is the ONE scene in the movie where he uses the slow motion button – when driving past an attractive, scantily dressed woman, who is …well, ah, jogging.

So I am watching this, and I start to wonder how I would use that remote control.

Goal-Free Living is about being present. Savoring the moment. Having the life you want now. If you had a remote control like in the movie Click, how often would you hit the fast forward button? Run your life in slow motion? Or hit rewind, and relive your past?

According to my goalaholic survey of over 1,000 individuals, 61% of the population finds themselves saying, “I will be happy when…” Their happiness awaits them in the future. I wonder how many of these people, if given such a remote control, would use the fast forward button to get to that point when they think they will be happier.

How satisfied are you with your life? One measure of success might be your “slow motion to fast forward ratio.” How much of your day would you run in slow motion? 5 minutes? 1 hour? 3 hours? 24 hours? Never? How much of your day would want to fast forward past? 2 hours? 8 hours (your workday)? 24 hours (skip the day altogether)? The higher the ratio between slo mo and fast forward, the higher the satisfaction with your life. So what’s your ratio? What percentage of the time do you savor the moment versus how often do you want to fast forward your life? Increasing your ratio can be as simple as increasing your level of appreciation for your life the way it is now, rather than believing that it can only get better.

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11 Responses to “Slow Motion to Fast Forward Ratio”

  1. Eolake Stobblehouse on July 20th, 2006 1:58 pm

    In “The Miracle of Mindfulness”, Thich Nhat Hanh talks about “washing the dishes to wash the dishes”. If you just wash them because you have to have clean dishes, you are not getting any joy or life in that time span. If you wash the dishes to wash the dishes, you live fully.

  2. robert whitney on July 20th, 2006 3:27 pm

    If you watched Tiger Woods today in the first round of the British you would really appreciate the importance of being present, he really savored the eagle putt on 18! Success and significance are all about being present!

  3. Alex Chua on July 21st, 2006 4:12 am

    I received this article in my email today & synchronistically, I happened to be on the topic of Happiness @

    I don’t mean this comment to be spamish but just wish to highlight the presence of synchronicity and also share some my thoughts from the above link.

    There are unique beauty to be appreciated in the very crookedness of a tree, the unevenness of a mountain, the randomness of a beach and the chaos of the ocean. These are the perfectness of Nature’s imperfections. This is natural and this is the perfection and divinity of the Universe. What might initially appear to be random or chaotic probably follow a pattern or cycle we are not yet aware of…

    When we recognise, respect and appreciate this divine perfection that is inherent in nature, of which we are a perfect part of, we find the happiness and bliss that we seek.

    There are no misfortunes in life. There are only missed fortunes… missed only because we fail to recognise and appreciate them as they truely are… fortunes, experiences, learning opportunities, seeds of wisdom…

    “Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” ~ Napoleon Hill

    In the same way that oceans shape our beaches and rivers shape their banks, our lives are shaped by events that we label as adversities, which we may one day recognise as blessings in disguise. Can you recall some personal examples of such blessings? I have had plenty of them…

    Life is full of blessings, we just have to learn to recognize them as such… and if we are not yet ready to do so… maybe it is better to simply acknowledge that we don’t really know if any situation would end well or not… Instead of labeling any event as good or bad, why not just accept its role in shaping our lives? This is yet another example of Divine Perfection… an example that holds infinite examples…

    We don’t always get what we want because what we want is not always what we need. But the lesson we need to learn is exactly what we would get at exactly the moment we need it. Ultimately, life will teach us all that we need to learn. Relationships reveal our true Self to us. All we need is the Clarity to see the lessons & the Wisdom to learn them. Life can teach us nothing until we are ready to learn… an open mind & heart is what we need.

    Our imperfections are what make us perfectly unique… each of us a special and neccessary piece of the puzzle that complete the lives of those around us… or to expand from my recent email (An Expression of Gratitude & A Tribute to Interdependence) to my Friends @ Zaadz, we are all a point on someone else’s Web of Life. We inadvertently and invariably shape the lives of those we come into contact with…

    “The humblest individual exerts some influence, either for good or evil, upon others.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

    In what ways are you influencing the poeple you come into contact with today?

    All the resources we need are made available to us at the precise moment that is appropriate. The people who come into our lives are the ones we need at that moment in time. Everything is perfect. We only need to recognise this tune in to the flow.

    You can connect with @

    Alex Chua

  4. Stephen Shapiro on July 21st, 2006 8:53 am

    All interesting points.

    Thanks for your great insight, Eolake. When we do something “in order to…” (e.g., have clean dishes), we create stress. When we do it just to do it, then there is no stress.

    Robert, it is interesting how when I play golf, if there is a water hazard, the ball goes in the water nearly 100% of the time. I know that because I am focusing on the water, and wanting to avoid it, I am actually causing the ball to go where I don’t want it to go. If I just focused on the ball, I would probably be a better golfer. Some things are easier said than done.

    Alex, one of my next posts will be on randomness. Coincidence? Stay tuned.


  5. Positive Sharing » Slow links on July 28th, 2006 8:00 am

    [...] The new Adam Sandler movie about a guy who gets a remote control that controls life inspired Stephen Shapiro of Goal Free Living to ask: What Is Your Slow Motion to Fast Forward Ratio. [...]

  6. Neil on July 29th, 2006 8:02 pm

    What you say about GFL rings a bell with me it feels kind of right. I remember a kind of urikah moment which I guess we all get – I woke up one morning – usual oh no hate my job, dont want to get up – the usual things we call think at times i imagine. And for some reason i(im not religous) Jesus voice came to me and said “turn the other cheek” – this always sounded a rediculous statement to me – but in that instant I realised what he (or my subconcious) was saying was stop resisting live -no point moaning about getting up 6.00 am you have to so just do it – and instead of dreading work i just went in with out thinking about it – i found without reactin to my negative thoughts I started living in the present and nothing phased me I actually believe i enjoy life so much more – and work is enjoyable again (I recently got promoted – people remark in the difference in me) – its funny how a single idea can change your life so much

  7. John Denton on July 31st, 2006 9:51 pm

    Steve, thank you for brining this movie to my attention. I don’t know when we will see it in Oz, but can’t wait. Will try to get to it while I am here in Seattle. As I explained when we met, I have had ten years of being driven to set goals and driving my clients to set goals. It has been a successful time – BUT – with my business almost sold and taking some time to smell the roses, I agree that there is lots to be said for a “goal free” life. I am enjoying opening myself up to whatever life brings and keeping my finger on the “slow” button. At my age, why would I do anything else? Regards, John

  8. abhirama on August 2nd, 2006 2:16 am

    i wud say i won’t use either button.. coz i love wats happening around me.. i treasure every moment.. but i am anxious too for wat awaits me.. so no fast forward but no slow motion either… life’s meant to go at this pace.. so be it.

  9. Denise Corcoran on August 18th, 2006 6:01 pm

    Hi, Steve …

    I 100% agree with your point about savoring the present moment. And that few of us know how to do that or actually do it.

    However, to me goals in and of themselves are not positive or negative. It is more of what importance we give to goals (IMHO) that destroys our ability to enjoy the present moment. Are they a means to an end or end in itself? Are you *attached* to achieving the goal or are you detached?

    I think where you and I may differ in viewpoint (which is what makes the world go around :)) is that it does not have to be an “either – or” process. I get the impression that you see goals and the present moment as polarities???

    The act of goal setting (which are linked to my visions and values) can be a source of joy itself. For me goal setting is a part of the creative process.

    I am a Master NLP practitioner (aside from biz coaching) and just went to a seminar from one of the top NLP trainers. He made a very interesting comment when he was talking about passion. His comment was that the state of passion happens when the destination and the journey become one and the same. My take on that comment is the point where goals and the present moment can intersect. Where doing transforms into becoming.

    One last comment … dancing is one of my passions. I fully understand just what you are talking about as far as being so consumed in the moment with what you are doing, you experience that sense of flow and transcendence of time that defies words. It’s pure magic. My goal at that moment is not to go from point A to point B. Rather my “goal” is stop doing the dance and become the dance and allow the steps to take *me* where they want me to go.

  10. Stephen Shapiro on August 19th, 2006 10:15 am


    I suspect that our perspectives are more aligned than you think. I am not against goals. Being goal-free does not mean being free from goals but rather the burden that goal put on so many people. I do tend to avoid “SMART” goals. Instead I use a compass setting. I find that specific measurable time-limited goals restrict my creativity. And to me, goal-free living is about applying creativity to ever aspect of your life.

    In its simplest form, I view life as a game and play fully in that game…until I decide to change the game. Then life is always fun AND productive. Thanks,


  11. Denise Corcoran on October 22nd, 2006 10:05 pm

    Hi, Steve …

    Just noticed your response to my post awhile back. Thanks for responding and sharing about what you believe in and what works for you.

    I agree that goals are meant to be a means to an end (joyful, creative, fulfilling living), not an end in itself. When it is the latter, goals do become burdensome. In fact, I wrote an article awhile back “The Dark Side of Goal Achievement: Where’s the Tipping Point?”

    So from that end, we are in agreement. Where we differ (at least from my initial perception of your message), is the “how.” You mentioned that smart goals restrict you. I respect that. You know what works for you and that is most important.

    If you are generalizing that smart goals restrict everyone’s creative and not a good system for goal setting, that to me is a dangerous assumption.

    I use my version of “smart goals” (what I call “create goals”) all the time. Having deadlines for myself actually inspires me to stretch. It also forces me to think out of the box by asking empowering questions. Eg. “what do I need to differently to double my revenues in the next months?” I thrive on challenges as a way of breaking through my own limits.

    As with goals, to me, deadlines are dangerous when one becomes attached to the timeframe and it triggers such compulsive behaviors as workaholicism.

    I have found in my 21 years of business & NLP coaching that its not the goal setting process itself that creates problems, it is the mindset, the thinking, the beliefs and assumptions that drives an idnvidual’s goal setting process or goal achievement.

    Thanks for offering your perspective on goals. I always enjoy reading the experience and wisddom of others :)).