I went to a new church in Santa Barbara on Sunday and loved the minister, his sermon was brilliant, creative, passionate and very pointed. You know that feeling when someone speaks and you just know they are talking to you? Even though I had never met this man before, I felt that way.
I was listening to his story, mostly paying attention, when he said something that really spoke to me. He said that we could all identify with being BUSY, everyone is so busy, crazy busy, endlessly busy… yep, it’s true, I thought. I am pretty sure I had used those exact terms within 24 hours of his sermon. I love to say I am CRAZY busy. Some days it’s true. For the past 6 months, my life has been ridiculous as we remodeled and sold a house in Texas, packed up our family and moved to California, all while my husband and I worked full time and took care of two active kids.
Sure, we are all busy, my life is not that different from most of you reading this blog, especially if you are a home-based entrepreneur and a parent. Add kids to any mix and busy-ness increases exponentially.
What Reverend Aaron McEmrys said after the laughter died down and we had all accepted that yes, we say we are busy all the time, was what really struck me. He asked, “What’s behind the busyness? What are you afraid of?” This is a BIG question, a life-changing question.
Generally, I like to be productive (notice I did not say busy) and to feel like I accomplished something every day but I don’t like to be busy and my husband likes it even less. In fact, when our kids were younger and we wanted them to experience so many different things, we enrolled them in two or three classes a week: soccer, Kindermusik, drama, gymnastics… AHHHHH!!! Suddenly none of us had any free time at all and it wasn’t working for our family. We all need quiet time, down time, time to do absolutely nothing but read a book or watch our favorite t.v. shows. We learned not to over-schedule ourselves or our children and we were all much happier without the mad dash between work, fast food for dinner, some activity, homework, shower, laundry, bedtime… Sound familiar? Too familiar?
There have been times in my business where I found myself spinning like a dog chasing her tail. I knew I would never catch up but I also knew that I was being busy for the sake of being busy, I was just going through the motions. If I looked busy, my business would look better, I would look better, right? What I realized was that I was focusing on the wrong things, like spending time checking email instead of writing a blog post or making sales calls or checking out a new networking meeting. All things I enjoy but say I am too busy to do.
What’s behind the busy-ness? According to Reverend McEmrys, it’s fear. Fear of loneliness, fear of invisibility, fear of inadequacy, fear of failure… pick your fear. It’s there. What are you afraid of? When you hide behind busy-ness you don’t have a chance to enjoy your life, to live your life to its fullest. I read a great blog today that asked “How many summers do you have left with your kids?” Yikes, only 5 left with my son. I want to enjoy as much as I can and my busy-ness definitely gets in the way.
On Saturday night after dinner, we could have watched t.v. We didn’t. We went to the beach to play for a while and watch the sunset. We made the mandala out of rocks and seaweed in the photo above. The kids built cairns from rocks and practiced their discus throwing and golf playing with what we found on the beach. We laughed hysterically when my husband hit the golf ball as hard as he could with the driftwood putter and missed! I caught it on video too. That wasn’t the best part of the video, though, it was my daughter skipping happily down the beach into the sunset. It was one of those halcyon moments we’ll remember in our later years.
I have two simple suggestions for overcoming busy-ness:
1. Stop making to-do lists you can never hope to accomplish. Instead make a list of 6 of the most important things you need to accomplish in a day, and don’t go to bed until they are done. Celebrate when you finish the list!
2. Find time to be quiet and do nothing every day!
My happiest and most creative moments stem from silence – driving in the car with no music on, sitting on the patio with a cup of coffee, a long walk on the beach, sitting in an airport or a coffee shop. You can be silent and mindful, even amidst chaos, if you choose to be.
I encourage you to find 15 minutes of silence every day – meditate, pray, write, draw, doodle or just sit. When I remember to do this every day, my day flows and I am productive, not busy and I feel so much better. When I enter the silence, I find there is nothing to fear and the action step to move me out of whatever fear I am trying to overcome in the moment is in the silence, if I make the time to listen.