You know someone like this. Anytime you ask how they are, they reply: “Busy!” It’s an easy answer that used to be considered a complaint, but now is more likely to be seen (or rationalized) as a badge of honor. Their time and attention are in constant demand, so they must be important and successful…right? What most people don’t realize is that being busy is the surest and fastest way to block your connection to yourself, others and the world around you.
Humans are not equipped to be busy all of the time. Both psychologically and physically, we need to have down time, leisure, and rest to thrive. For centuries, societies recognized this fact – and many major religions enshrined it in their teaching.
When you are busy, you’re in reactive mode, trying to simultaneously tread water and bat away the balls that are being thrown at you. It’s nearly impossible to hear yourself think, let alone hear the whisper of what your soul is longing for. When you are rushing, or distracted with what’s coming next in your day, it’s easy to lose track of your deepest wants, needs, goals and priorities.
Blinded by Busyness
One particular client comes to mind, with a story that’s unfortunately not uncommon. This client decided to remodel her home as a way to manifest her idyllic dreams of a family home and hearth, and she threw herself into the project. She soon became consumed, overwhelmed in a state of constant and obsessive busyness, and so she failed to notice the toll its stress and financial strain were taking on her marriage…until it was too late. By the time she realized what was happening, the wheels had completely come off the relationship.
She herself couldn’t help remarking later on the irony that her craving for a secure hearth and home had caused her far more important priorities (the health and happiness of her family, and the relationships between all of them) to fall by the wayside. Her day to day activities had been out of alignment with her deepest priorities for too long, and it ultimately lead to irreparable damage. The rushing current of busyness had swept her away, and lulled her into believing that what she was devoting energy to was in alignment with her highest priorities. All too often, though, it is not…and sometimes, we’re working at odds with our sacred truths.
Take A Time Out
It takes a lot of headspace, freedom, time, and intention to stay in tune with yourself and on track with the deepest needs of your true self. The moments we reserve for daydreaming and reflection are not relaxing luxuries to break up a busy person’s day – they’re necessities for staying awake, aware and living your life consciously. Taking a quick walk around the block, for instance, can offer a critical opportunity to unpack your thoughts and touch base with how you’re really feeling underneath the numbness of busy.
If you value living a life of intention, beware the busy phases of your life, as these are likely times when you will get out of sync with yourself. It’s no coincidence that during busy times, people stop exercising, stop sleeping as well, and are more likely to make poor eating choices, getting disconnected from their bodies and their health goals.
Our tunnel vision about immediate goals causes us to lose sight of the big picture, and let many other important (arguably, FAR more important) areas of our life go unattended. After an extended busy period, there’s usually a pile of collateral damage to face up to, like the extra 10 pounds they gained, the budget they blew, the relationships that have suffered, or the years that flew by unattended to, and unappreciated.
It’s not just head doctors who give this advice. Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com and by any measure one of the busiest and most successful guys around, agrees – he makes sure he gets 8 hours of sleep every night. And though he’s got more projects going than most, his schedule sanctifies leisurely mornings, family time, and hobbies.
If you’ve been telling yourself you’re “too busy” to nurture your relationships or take down time to reflect, it’s not a sign that you’re important and successful – it’s a sign that you need to reconnect with yourself and align your actions with your deepest, most cherished values. Don’t let the rush of busyness blind you to what’s most important in life.