Most of us have heard ourselves say it before: “I’m so busy right now that I can’t even see straight.” Without question, there are times in life that are more packed with “to-dos” than others. At the same time, many of us have allowed the concept of busy to surpass being an occasional experience. Now, it’s a key part of our personal identities.
Just think about the phrase “I am busy,” which goes far beyond a mere observation about what a person is experiencing, and becomes a personal declaration of one’s state of being. When put into these terms, we might feel more compelled to ask ourselves, “Is busy the extent of who I really am?” Surely, we can all come up with something a little more creative, not to mention more accurate, for ourselves than that.
Consider how often we use this statement to virtually bury more important tasks or purposes. For instance, “I really want to start exercising, but I’m just too busy;” “I need to schedule a doctor’s visit, but I’m too busy;” or “It would be nice to be available for my family, friends, and kids right now, but I’m busy reading every last email ever sent to me.” Notice how the most important things get lost in these thought processes. Meanwhile, busyness remains in the driver’s seat of our lives.
Don’t get me wrong. I completely understand the value of progress, and naturally, it requires real action. At the same time, actions alone do not define progress, especially when those actions hold little purpose for the person who is implementing them. When most of us “busy types” do a quick scan of all of the doings that are keeping us endlessly occupied, we find that a good portion of them are not nearly as pressing as the things we are actually putting off. Now, take a pause, and think about that for a minute.
Could it be that our busyness is actually fearful avoidance of stepping into our true power and potential? After all, by staying busy, it’s easier to avoid showing ourselves to the world, while sparing ourselves from any possible embarrassment or failures. So, rather than risk any sort of discomfort, why not just project how needed we are by engaging in ongoing busyness? Hey, whatever it takes for us to feel important, right?
Who would we actually be without our busyness? Seriously, if we weren’t proclaiming that we were busy all the time, what would this say about ourselves? Would we still feel important, or even valued?
Think about how we might allocate our time differently if we allowed ourselves to be things like happy, confident, worthy, or heck, even progressive. Perhaps we might even feed our souls with our passions, instead of committing more time and effort to things that will have the same impact whether we are involved in them or not.
If our value in the world extends far beyond our current to-do lists, where might we find it? Will we find it in the eyes of our spouses and children, or the glow of our smartphone screens? In an innovative mission, or every single meeting pinned on our calendars? In the health of our bodies, minds, and spirits, or the latest work fire drills? Just think of the larger impact we could all make on this world if we allowed ourselves to be something — anything! — other than busy.
Nina Cashman is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.