The Busyness Trap and how to slow down

By September 28, 2016 Blog
On coming out under the cover of busyness and finding intention and focus in slowing down.
September 28, 2016 Blog

Busy, busy, busy.

We’re addicted to it. We’re addicted to doing.

As if the doing or the busyness gives us meaning and stature. We’re busy, filling up our calendars with work and social engagements, running frantically from one thing to the next, trying to catch our breath and waiting for the weekend or that long-awaited holiday to catch up on our sleep and feel human again. It’s as if somebody decided that being busy means that we are succesful. We’re succesful in our work when we have lots of meetings, we’re socially succesful when our calendars are filled with dinners and other social activities. Granted, that can all be awesome, but it can get a little tricky when we’re hiding behind our busyness because we’re covering something else up.

Busy can become dangerous when it: 

  1. Acts a cover for something that we’re unwilling to see

Just recently I was talking to someone about coaching and she commented that it can be a scary process to enter into. “I don’t actually want to know how I’m doing, I’m just keeping busy and moving along”, she said. Such an answer doesn’t surprise me any longer, so many of us hide under the cover of busyness. Our busyness can provide us with an excuse not to see, feel or experience what is truly, really underneath just below the surface.

The longer we ignore something that is bugging us, the stronger its influence will become when left unaddressed. If we’re committed to change and living a life that is on purpose, then the first crucial step is to see what is there. Only when you can truly see what is going on in your life, do you have the capability of changing something. And so often, we overestimate what needs to be done. Small changes can have a huge impact, if we are willing to see what is there.

  1. Acts as compensation for our self-worth (and yes, I’m talking to some of you high achievers)

Guilty as charged, I spent a big chunk of my life trying to be really super freaking good at whatever I did. Not because I was particularly enjoying it (or that I actually managed to achieve  this perfection), but because it gave me an identity, a reason for being. Needless to say that failure used to freak me out completely and that criticism was very unwelcome in my house.

It’s a dangerous trap when we start identifying our self-worth with our achievements. It’s a vicious cycle that is difficult to get out of. When is it enough? When are you enough? This can radically change when we know and understand that we are enough just as we are. (For a little reminder, please feel free to read A Manifesto for Enough) It doesn’t mean we can’t go after our goals, or stretch beyond our comfort zones and grow – by all means, please do! But there’s a huge difference in how we feel when we believe we have to compensate for our self-worth (zap out any fun & enter into the realm of proving ourselves) and when we do our best and give of ourselves because we’re enjoying the process and find meaning in what we do.

  1. Pushes us to ignore our own health and sanity in favour of someone else’s agenda

Sometimes we push ourselves because we feel we “should”. The time when you clock just an hour more, ignoring that slight ache in your back, pushing back an early night again to another day, because you feel you can’t let someone else down, or something just “has” to get done. Any time anyone uses the word “should” is a red flag, because it implies that there’s some an external force making you do this. But what is the “should” really all about? Is it really that important? Is it truly something that you want to do? Does it have to happen now?

What would happen if we move from a state of doing to a state of being?

Being implies an acceptance of what is there in the moment. We stop pushing ourselves to achieve, we stop cramming our calendars, we stop running for the sake of running.

We stop being busy just for the sake of being busy.

Being means slowing things down and pushing the pause button on life from time to time. It allows us to be mindful of the moment. We can really take in where we are in the moment and see how we really feel. We can check in with ourselves and see what really needs to happen. Stepping out of your daily busyness allows you to be more intentional and focused. It allows you to be strategic and make choices that are right for you.

What is it that you want your day, your week, your month, your year – your life – to be about?

Our lives revolve around constantly making choices. Choices that work for you, that allow you to create the life you want. Build consciousness into your everyday life by slowing things down. Your being, your consciousness, the pauses that you create in life, will allow you to make better choices that are both good for you and for others, and be more effective at what you do because you can direct your energy and effort in the best way.

So how can you slow things down and become more intentional and focused so that you can create the life you desire?

  • By shifting your mindset and ensuring that you have enough time for yourself. Carving out time for yourself is not a selfish choice. It allows you to manage your energy in a way that serves you and others. The simple fact is that you can’t give what you don’t have. This could be through meditation, journaling, spending time in nature, or whatever it is that allows you to take a step back from your daily life and become an “observer” of your life.
  • Decide what your priorities are and plan your efforts and focus. Start your days with 15 minutes of writing down your top 3 priorities for the day (or do it the night before, even better!). Start your month with reviewing your goals and activities. Are these still the things that you want to focus on? Consider spending time each year thinking through your priorities and design your life on the basis of that – this is at the heart of being intentional.
  • Cultivate an open and curious mind. When you take on new things, ask yourself does this fit with what I want to do? Am i doing the things that I want to be doing, that bring me closer to the life I desire – or am I doing it because I think I should? Don’t be afraid to make changes and adjust your plan where necessary. Living an intentional life means that you course adjust.
  • Check in with your body. How do you feel? Are you holding any tension anywhere? What does that tension tell you? Don’t be afraid to listen. Your body holds invaluable information and can act as an amazing compass to show you the way.
  • Take plenty of breaks and allow for rest and space in your life. Try to create more space in your life and your calendar to just do what you want in the moment. Take time off, have a holiday and explore the world, see what is out there! Sometimes the most beautiful things happen when we don’t plan, leaving life open to the surprises along the way.

Ultimately, it’s about creating the right balance for you between doing and being. This will be different for everyone, and  only you can judge where the tipping point is between the two. My invitation to you would be to create moments and space in life to check in with yourself and really see how you’re doing. Be courageous, curious and open – and create the life that you desire.

I hope you’re doing beautifully well! As always, I’d love to hear from you. How do you create more moments of stillness? What does slowing down mean to you? Leave me a comment or send me a note:

With love,

Xx Naomi





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