Being busy does not equal success and happiness
There is no doubt that over the last 15-20 years our lives have been subject to an increase in ‘busyness’. Increases in the cost of living, around the clock social media, internet access, advertising etc., create a vacuum that sucks a lot more of our time. Couple these demands on our time with the western glorification of ‘success’ – couched in the acquisition of material wealth and career status – and we are inevitably pressured to say ‘yes’ to everything. Being ‘busy’ is now our default mode, and is either self-inflicted or facilitated by peer pressure. Either way – as you may suspect – if your busyness is not fulfilling your deeper desires for contribution, relevance, purpose, passion etc., it can become a source of dis-content, anxiety and stress.
Release the pressure valve
In the past I have felt a great pressure to be ‘busy’. Somehow western culture successfully made me feel bad for having time to self-reflect, relax, or just do nothing. But I have learned that we need the time to relax, be lazy and self-reflect. Just as sound needs silence to exist, we need the contrast of doing nothing to enable our doings to be purposeful. Removing the responsibility we feel to be constantly busy can not only free up time – releasing the pressure valve and giving us space to just breath – but allow us to act with more purpose. So how do we remove our apparent commitment to being busy?
The art of saying no
Time is our most valuable resource, and in this era of busyness it is more important than ever to practice saying no. Of course the obvious question is ‘what do I say no to’? Say no to toxic relationships and unfulfilling jobs. Say no to unnecessary purchases and lifestyle inflation. Say no to working weekends, impulsive social media use, or watching daytime television. Say no to a full schedule that does not fill you up with joy, energy, and purpose. These are just examples of course. If you love working 80 hours a week because your job is your passion, then keep saying yes. The trick is to recognise whether you are busy just to be busy. Reflect on what activities/relationships are not serving you, and say no! Again, this requires time in self-reflection so you are clear on what you truly value.
FOMO (Fear of missing out)
Saying no to some of these things may leave you petrified that you will ‘miss out’ (FOMO). You might feel that you will miss out on the next big announcement on facebook, or a breaking news story, or a fun night out, friends, money, or ‘fill in the blank here’. While these fears may appear real in the beginning, they are illusory! They are posing as real fears but the reality is that you are not missing out on anything with any real importance. Be brave. Say no. Feel amazing. If you succumb to the power of FOMO and continue with unfulfilling busyness, what you will really miss out on is living a life of purpose, contentment, space and meaning (a life that is uniquely yours).
Just say no to one thing
Begin by saying no to just one thing that is not serving you and feel the space that opens up. Resist the urge to fill in this space. Just let it be. Allow your mind to relax, refocus and gain clarity. Rinse and repeat until you are well on your way to living your own life the way you want to live it. Be your best self 🙂