The days are starting to cool off, I have heard rumors of pumpkin flavored M&Ms, and my Pinterest main page is filled with Autumn décor and soup recipes. All of this tells me that, indeed, Fall is before us. Like so many, I love Fall, and as I shared a couple of weeks ago, I see the start of Fall as an opportunity to press the restart button. After taking a breath over Summer, the Fall marks a chance to shift and change things. For me personally, Fall is usually a fairly busy season, so inevitably I find myself wrestling with the seemingly always present conundrum of how to create more balance in my life. And at some point during this season, I will inevitably ask myself… Why am I so busy??
Busy is indeed a treadmill. In my life, at least, it is a treadmill that seems to gain speed and increase in incline without the touch of even a button. When we are trying to keep up with the treadmill of Busy, we often feel that our lives our haphazard, unbalanced, and maybe even pointless and directionless. We know we have a lot to do, but sometimes we can’t even say why we are doing it all. Busy takes away our sense of center, and after living in constant motion, eventually we grow tired. We need a break, but we don’t know how to take one.
One of the greatest theives of our sense of peace, joy, and wellness is busyness. We will never be able to effectively manage our time or our lives if we stay on this neverending treadmill. There is a difference between having a full schedule and being busy. A full schedule is just that- full. It may be full of commitments, responsibilities, and to do items, but all of these things move us forward in a clear direction. We’re not just spinning in place, but we are moving towards something. They contribute to a greater sense of purpose and direction in our lives. Our schedules may be full, but we don’t feel like a prisoner to our calendars, and we don’t feel that our worth is measured by the number of checks on our to do lists.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a lot of activity in your life, but we can get addicted to busy. We can get where we don’t know how to say no and we don’t know how to slow down without feeling restless, or worse, guilty. We can get to the point where busyness becomes a badge of honor or a marking of worth so we stay busy simply for the sake of being busy.
You deserve to break free of Busy. You can break the chains of Busy in a variety of ways, but to do so you have to answer this one important question:
Why are you so busy??
I don’t mean this from a scheduling perspective. I mean, what role is Busy playing in your life that you keep going back to that trough. We don’t do anything unless we get something out of it, even if that something is twisted and unhealthy. We engage in repeated behaviors because we think we are going to gain something. What is it you think you are going to gain through busyness?
Sometime back one of my favorite authors, Shauna Niequist, wrote an incredibly wise blog post on the role Busy plays in our lives. Below is an excerpt from her post entitled My Drug and My Defense.
“Busy is both my drug and my defense. By that I mean that I use busy-ness to make me feel numb and safe, the way you use a drug, and I use busy-ness as a way of explaining all the things I dropped, didn’t do well, couldn’t pull together, as a defense…
This is what I do: I keep myself busy, for a whole constellation of reasons. I do it because I'm addicted to the feeling of being capable, because I hate to be bored, because I hate having to face the silence, because it might force me to feel things I don’t want to feel… If I stay busy I don’t have to feel those things, don’t have to worry about them, don’t have to let them blossom in to full-fledged questions. I don’t have to sit and think about that thing someone said about me recently when they didn’t know I was there, something I can’t get out of my mind. And so I run away from it, and from everything, faster, faster, faster.
And I use my busy-ness as an excuse for why I might not succeed, or accomplish the things I want to, or have the relationships I want to have.
‘I mean, I’m juggling a million things here, of course the book’s not perfect.
Seriously, where am I supposed to find time to work out and become some gorgeous supermodel, when I have like seven thousand things on my plate?
I probably didn’t get invited because they knew I’d be out of town anyway, right? Right? Right?’
The busy-ness is a drug to keep me numb and a defense to keep me safe.”
Hauntingly insightful and truthful, isn’t it? Busy truly is a drug and defense. If I’m really busy then you can’t get mad if I make a mistake or have to bail on something. BUT if I do everything and never say no then I look even more awesome and people are even more impressed by me because I did everything and I was soooo busy! That type of high most certainly numbs our self doubt and insecurities.
Is busyness your drug and defense? Is it your badge of worth and importance? Why are you busy?
How do you break free from Busy? You break free by choosing a full schedule over a busy one. You accept that cutting back is not a sign of weakness or failure. You learn that because you can do something does not mean you should or have to do it. You don’t say yes to everything and you don’t say no to everything. Instead, you invest your time and energy into things that are in line with your priorities and what you have deemed as truly important in your life.
Busy is a burden you do not have to bear. May you find the courage to step off the treadmill this season. Here’s to a FULL Fall!
What role does Busy play in your life? How are you choosing full over Busy this week?