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Ask Richard: In your career, how do know when to slow down, and when to put the pedal to the metal?

By | Richard Branson | Founder at Virgin Group

In a hyper-connected world where everything moves at lightning speed, it often feels impossible to slow down. After reading through hundreds of questions submitted to my Ask Richard newsletter this month, I thought this one from Cyril Dalawangbayan touched upon something everyone can relate to:

“Richard, everyone is hustling. How do we know when it’s time to take it slow, or put the pedal to the metal? How do you put timing to key moments in your career?”

Timing is everything in life, and it’s particularly crucial in entrepreneurship. People often equate success with luck, but it usually comes down to impeccable (and carefully mapped out) timing. Staying ahead of the curve; predicting market conditions; spotting opportunities before they arise; and forecasting the wider economic, social and technological landscape will really help you minimise risks when starting a business. Above all else, remember that the best time to go into a new business is when it’s being run badly by others.

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It’s also important to remember that good timing is less about speed, and more about being in sync. It’s easy to forget this in a go-go-go kind of world, but it’s so important for your career (or whatever it is you’re working towards) and your wider wellbeing too. If you’re starting to feel like you’re just going through the motions and losing sight of why you started, it might be time to take a break, collect your thoughts, get some rest, and re-assess your strategy. You don’t make your best decisions when you’re exhausted or overwhelmed, and you won’t have the capacity to spot new opportunities and think creatively. I’ve always said that if you don’t have time for the small things, you won’t have time for the big things. There’s something to be said for slowing down, taking stock and also in knowing when it’s time to leave altogether. As Joan Didion wrote in Goodbye to All That:

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