Updated: Dec 2, 2021
There are always a lot of things going on in your life. You most likely need to juggle your parenting responsibilities, work commitments, financial obligations, social pressure, and health issues. And there are the different hats you need to wear: a parent, a good employee or employer, a daughter/son, a local community member, a friend.
Do you ever feel like there is more and more you need to do, there is more you need to have and there is more to be?
You feel overwhelmed with the commitments you signed up for (or you let somebody else to sign you up) but you have to keep busy. Sometimes it may feel like there is no other way, isn’t it?
We all feel overwhelmed in our lives (read here: 5 reasons why you feel overwhelmed all the time), but there are reasons why we feel that way, and staying busy is one of them.
I want you to do me a favour: count how many times a day you say you’re busy.
Well? How many times do you think you said it?
The answer may surprise you, especially if staying busy is your permanent state.
Reasons for busyness
It comes naturally to us to add yet another thing to our daily tasks, we sign up for things we don’t really want to do, we raise our hands to fulfill more obligations. We do it in the name of ‘feeling busy’. This is the new state which is expected from us. Keeping busy is like a new competition we want to win. We add more and more things, commit to more projects and we’re so busy that we don’t even ask why we’re doing it.
You may tell me that you have to be busy because it means you’re succeeding in life. Everyone else does everything so why wouldn’t you?
We live in a productivity obsessed age, where the quality is no longer valued, but the quantity is. You’re not viewed as a valued employee, you’re viewed as a return on investment asset. You’re required to work more hours at the office, but not really to produce any good results.
The social pressure and expectations can keep you busy too. The busiest person shows success. The ‘badge of honour’ of busyness is proudly wore. Your busyness brings you status and defines the social role you hold.
Have you ever been surprised hearing that somebody who seemed to have it all together, was going through challenging times and had a nervous breakdown? Were you surprised to find out about that? Because society wants you to show up as the strong, capable, and competent person in all areas of life. As a woman in the 21st century, having it all means not having yourself and not being yourself, because you’re too busy trying to hold it all together to even realize that you’re no longer in the picture.
But how long are you going to keep up? How long can you keep going at a neck-breaking speed until you experience burnout, depression, or anxiety?
Busyness, the same way as overwhelm, comes from within. You want to be portrayed as busy because you want to be seen worthy. The belief that you’re not worthy because you’re not as busy as others, pushes you to take yet another meaningless task. The conscious or unconscious compering yourself to others through the eyes of busyness elevates your worthiness.
But hold on: really?
The common practice is to look into your childhood and pinpoint moments where you felt disempowered and helpless because they are closely related to your feelings of worth. But rather than blaming your parents, the social pressure, and your ties with the status of a workaholic, pause for a moment and ask yourself why do you feel you need to be busy?
One of the scariest questions, I’ve ever asked myself was this: who am I, if I don’t do anything? Am I still worth something if I’m not producing? If I’m not in action? What happens in the world if I stay still for a moment?
If you’re afraid to ask yourself this question or don’t know the answer, then my dear friend, it’s time to stop the busyness and find out.
Do you know that in the 1800 the upper class was the leisure people? If you were busy, it meant you were a working, lower class. The more leisure time you were able to create, the richer you were. Isn’t it interesting how our perspective shifted?
Have a look at your life and be honest with yourself on how busy you are? Did you pick another project at work although you already have enough things to do? Have you committed to organising another social outing although you would rather stay home? What is the meaning and purpose behind adding another commitment to your to-do list?
The moment you realise that you are constantly tired and overwhelmed, that you’re lacking energy, and most importantly not having joy in what you’re doing, is time to say no.
The busier you get, the more unproductive you are. That’s right. You can’t produce good results from being busy and unhappy. By adding more and more things you create more overwhelm, anxiety, and lack of direction. The moment you forget why you do what you do, what brings you happiness, is the moment to stop and stay still.
An important thing to mention is that there isn’t anything wrong with keeping yourself occupied. After all, all work contributes to progress and that’s how the human species evolve. Productivity is needed for our evolution. If you’re the lucky one doing things you love, working passionately on projects that matter to you, then keep going! You want to fill days with what brings you joy and happiness, what fulfills you and moves you forward. Finding the balance between your work and commitments and your pleasure and downtime leads to harmony and truly shows your worth.
Being busy doesn’t define your worth. Your worthiness comes from within, and you are a worthy human being no matter the level of busyness. It’s time to stop wearing busyness like a badge of honour and it’s time to pause for a minute, reflect on who you are and who you want to become. Because there is no purpose in busyness.
I know it’s scary to stay still and not pack your day with tasks. It’s scary because you need to look deeply within and see the real reasons why you don’t want to have time to stop.
Your worth means that at the end of the day you are happy with your life, that you have the time and energy to be with yourself and your family, to do things that matter to you. There is no gold star to be achieved for how busy you are. There is only one of you who has this life, so live it like you mean it.
So, tell me are you ‘good busy’ or ‘bad busy’?
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Find out more about Anna Doktor Wellness Coaching at www.annadoktor.com.au