How many times have you asked someone to do something and their reply has been, “I don’t have time. I’m too busy”?
In today’s society, this is the go-to response. Whether you’re at work, home, or socializing with friends, people are rushing around, always on the go, desperate to tick things off their long-to do lists before the day is out. And you do it too.
Your life revolves around a schedule, a daily routine, one you can’t bear to take a break from, right? Moments flash by as fast they came, and amongst it all, you simply don’t have the time to sit, relax, and just be in the present.
You feel you have to be push onwards, towards the next thing, because slowing down feels counter-productive, wrong even. It leaves you with nothing to do. And if you’re not doing something, what else is there?
But what’s wrong with this?
This used to be me as well.
Every day, even on the weekends, my life was filled with meetings and events. I was a busy woman in corporate — successful and productive and I wanted to achieve at every opportunity. I used to love the reward from working hard, and I had a wonderful home, extravagant holidays, and lots of friends. I’d aspired for these things and worked hard enough to get them, so it really felt like, to begin with, I had it all.
It wasn’t until I started to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and burnt out that I began to question at what cost this had come at.
It was a nagging feeling that wouldn’t go away. The more I exhausted myself, the more I couldn’t shake it, but busyness had come to consume me, so I was too scared to slow down. I knew nothing apart from success and the desire to work hard, and truly thought that by keeping myself busy at all times, I would reach my goals no matter what.
It wasn’t until I realized my busy routine wasn’t serving me, and only others, that I started to make a change. It wasn’t until I actually slowed down that I was able to recover the real me and realign my path to the life I wanted.
So, who was this busyness serving?
Because I had been part of the corporate world for so long, I had become blind to the reality of it all.
The reward is great, yes, but the demands they require aren’t sustainable, and once I headed down this path and sold myself to a busy lifestyle, I’d lost who I really was underneath it all.
Busyness wasn’t part of the real me. It was a badge of honor, a way to prove my worth in an environment that required me to give all the time. The corporate world expected results, so my sense of worth became attached to how much I could do. If I wasn’t doing something, I wasn’t of value. And that’s something that happens across society as a whole.
We are led to believe, by corporate advertising and a society in general, that to be busy is to be important. We equate happiness and success with working hard, so we head down that path, hoping for fulfillment and the life of our dreams.
What they don’t tell us is that this never stops. Busyness distracts us from what is really going on, from who we’re really serving, and that is something I was blind to for years.
The fear of being still
If busyness is so exhausting and distracting, then why don’t we all just simply slow down? Because we are scared to be still.
As you begin to slow down, you take away any distractions you, or society, might have put in place and start to become more self-aware than you’ve ever been before. Yes, this might be great in the long run, but for many of us, the pain that comes from turning inwards and facing ourselves feels immense. We might have underlying issues — neglected problems that we’ve averted for years, so the thought of finally dealing with them can be overwhelming.
When I finally slowed down, I suddenly realized that busyness had become a way for me to escape from myself as well. The more my personal life declined, the more I threw myself into work, so I didn’t have to face my thoughts. Sometimes it’s good to distract yourself, but this was the extreme, and as I continued to give away my energy to others, I reached a point where I no longer knew who I really was.
It was a terrifying prospect, deciding to recover the real me, because I knew I’d have to overcome huge, internal hurdles. But I knew, at my lowest point, that my happiness was more important than what I feared. And the only way I could feel happy again was to slow down and face them head on.
But what happened when I did?
Yes, it was hard, but slowing down was the best thing I ever did. Not only did it help me connect to myself, it also allowed me to look at the world around me like never before.
After taking the time to slow down and assess who I really was, I started to acknowledge my positive qualities, and it was this self-assurance that empowered me to show more of myself to the world. At once, everything around me started to transform with the same positivity, and for the first time in a long time, I saw the good in people and the beauty of what lay at my fingertips.
Of course, there were negative aspects too, but even when I did reach those painful barriers inside of me, it was these realizations that kept me going on my journey. Now, when I’m at an internal crossroads, I choose the slower path, because I know with absolute confidence that the busy one just isn’t for me.
The Secret to Becoming Less Busy
In sum, life is never too busy for the real you to shine through. You just have to slow it down to a pace that works for you. Productivity is rewarding but not at the cost of yourself and the present moment. If you are always pushing forward and onto the next thing, you aren’t connecting to the now, and that connection is what makes life worth living.
If you think your schedule is compromising your true self, then remember: you are always capable of taking back the reigns. If you need to remind yourself of this, then memorize the following four secrets, all of which I discovered on my journey of slowing down:
- Being busy is a choice, not a way of life decided for you.
- Instead of feeling scared of being still, recognize the value that it has. Schedule times for rest, have moments in the day where you schedule nothing, and see how it feels.
- Redefine your priorities. If everything is a priority in your schedule, then nothing is. Pick out a few things and focus on getting them done.
- Do one thing at a time. Accept that you can’t, and no one can, do it all.
No one ever passed through life and wished they’d met more deadlines or pleased more people. They wished they’d savored the moments that mattered and lived more presently.
Don’t let your biggest regret be a life that passed you by.
About the Author
Irina Sanches de Lozada is an alignment coach for successful women in the corporate world. She helps women reconnect to themselves and reach their full potential, so they can live a deeply satisfying and joyful life.