During my time off, I experienced quite a bit of free time. This is something I was not used to experiencing in my life as I was accustomed to always being on the go, always working, and always getting things done. At first, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Feelings of laziness, apathy and anxiousness flooded my untrained body as I frantically searched within my own mind what was up next on the to do list. But, after a while, I learned how to utilize these necessary, highly effective pauses from my once-crazy life to self-reflect and prioritize tasks, one at a time. This brief step back from my never-ending to-do list allowed for some life-changing self-reflection on my (and likely many of yours) inherent addiction to overachieving, overdoing and the need to always stay busy.
Many of us know it all too well. A workload that is overloaded. A schedule that is overbooked. For many of us, not being constantly busy is a challenge. We don’t typically view busyness as an addiction. But I’d like to challenge this idea. We have an obsession with getting things done. Often, we grudgingly and hurriedly move from one activity to the next, feeling out of time and short of breath. We often find ourselves racing around to accomplish tasks or run errands, and when we don’t tackle everything on our to do list, we end up working around the clock! But, is there really that much to do? Some nights, even while lying in bed, the gears in our minds are still cranking. Sometimes we might even find ourselves working in our dreams. I know for me, during crazy busy times of the year, after a 16-18 hour day, I would find myself in a very light sleep, dreaming (or having a nightmare, depending on how you look at it) about that Cash Flow statement I worked on the day prior or that bank statement that I couldn’t quite reconcile.
For many of us, there’s this sense of racing against the clock, but often we are the omnipotent creators of our own franticness. Some of us keep ourselves busy in order to feel worthwhile. If that’s the case, let us remember that it’s the ego, not our true self, that perceives lack of worth. We simply want things to happen yesterday, so we are always racing to whatever tasks we can fill the void with. And before long, life becomes one constant 100-meter sprint, to an ever-elusive finish line. For me, it began as a child. My parents never pushed too hard (thank God), but I hung out around over achievers & super athletes whom I strived to be like on a daily basis. I strived to one-up their efforts and performances, to get better grades than them, to run a faster 40. I struggle with laziness. I grew up believing that laziness was shameful. And now as an adult, I still have a difficult time understanding that it is OK to just relax, to create balance, to engage in self-care.
It is up to us to realize when our relentless work ethic has become unhealthy, and to do something about it! It is up to us to decide when to pump the breaks. Perhaps, take a moment now or this weekend to check in on your current relationship with always needing to get s*** done. When did it begin? Who influences it? Is it serving you? Would you benefit by taking a step back? Would you benefit from some more balance? Really give this some thought!
Busyness is often celebrated in our culture, but should we be proud of the fact that we are always going, going, going until we reach a breaking point? If any of you read my prior post, I was going, going, going for years until I reached a pretty life-changing breaking point.
During one of the guided meditations I listened to this week, I heard something that resonated with me. “For many of us overachievers, our mantra is often “what else can I do today?” Consider replacing this for a week with “what can I do less of today?” See what happens. Slow down this weekend. Offer yourself some gentleness. Some space to live freely and breathe. The stillness awaits us. In the stillness, we heal. Right now, tomorrow, AND this weekend: take 10-30 minutes, lie down, and let every thought or concern of your current responsibilities slowly evaporate into the Universe!