The Churn of the World

I hate the days when I am overly busy.  I move from tasks to tasks.  Email to email.  Conversation to conversation.  I go home at night feeling like I didn’t accomplish anything.  It was a wasted day in a life that is wasting away.

I get no satisfaction in doing these small, insignificant tasks. None what so ever.

Instead, I love having space to think.  I love having uninterrupted blocks of time where I can create meaningful work.  I love having time just to be.  The art of just being is vanishing from our society, only to be replaced with constant doing.  Maybe we should call our species Human Doings instead of Human Beings.  

Or maybe it’s the old soul inside of me that wishes the world would just slow down.

I meet plenty of people who love to be busy.  They brag to anyone who will listen about their so called busy life.  I think subconsciously, they are hoping to make me feel envious or sympathetic to their situation.  

Envious because they want me to feel as though I am not important as they are. After all, they are busier than I am.

Sympathetic because they want me to know that they are overworked. I should feel sorry for them, shouldn’t I?

When I converse with these individuals, I feel as if they are laying a trap for me.  They goad me into feeling as though I need to talk about my own busyness to match theirs.  I have become bait for this trap many times before. “Oh you think you are busy? Here’s what I am currently involved in…”  It than spirals into a battle of who is busiest.  The sad irony is, we both lose in this competition.

If I manage to stay strong and avoid responding with my sob story, I tend to respond with another mistake.  I begin to condone their busyness.  I tell them that it is OK to be busy.  After all, it is better to be busy than not being busy.  Right?  I choke on my own words when I say this because I am not so sure that it is true.   Is it really better to be busy than to not be busy?  I guess it depends on what is keeping you busy.  If you’re Batman and are busy roaming the streets at night to catch criminals, I guess that is OK.

But make no mistake, being busy for the sake of being busy is one of life’s greatest failures.  We put our health at risk, our chance to know ourselves on hold, and our most creative thoughts sealed off. 

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way.  Here are three strategies that I use to help myself become less busy.

1)      Find out what is important and channel your energy into it. 

If you want to be a writer, then write.  If you want to be a musician, then play music.  If you want to be an actor, then act.  With the exploding use of Social Media, it has become easy for you to lose track of who you really are and what you really want.  You start trying to be someone you can never become.  No matter how good of a copycat you are, you will never be as good as the original person. Social Media is causing you to constantly chase a dream life.  But you forget that this chase will never end because it is constantly changing.  And the more you chase, the further you move away from your own priorities.

It’s time for you to pick your focus and commit time and energy into executing on it.

2)      Stop caring so much about things that don’t matter.

Your mind is occupied by crap that just doesn’t matter.  The slight from a coworker, the extra charges on your restaurant bill, the friend who forgot to pay you back $5 he owes you, the TV shows that got cancelled, the online store who won’t price match an item, the lack of mustard in your cheese burger, the piece of gum that you just stepped on, the baby crying on the airplane, or the ignorant person who called you a name.

These distractions at the time, feel like the world is ending, but listen, this crap means nothing in the long run.  It’s time for you to stop being so easily offended and care less about the things that don’t matter.

3)      Say No more often.

Every time you say yes to something you don’t want to do, you are saying no to something you should be doing.  It’s that simple.  The word no should be your biggest ally in protecting your time and energy. 

Is saying no easy? Of course not.  That’s why so many of us get trapped in a yes cycle.

You must stand your ground like an unmovable tree and take whatever consequences that are thrown your way.  It’s your life your wasting, not anyone else’s.

Here are three thoughts about saying no:

1.       The more you just say no, the easier it becomes.

2.       Over time, saying no will earn you respect from others if you over-deliver on the things you say yes to.

3.       You can say no respectfully.  Here is an example, “No, I am sorry I can’t take that project on. I am grateful that you thought of me for the opportunity, but I am currently working on … that will help deliver huge value to ...”

If you aren’t careful, the churn of the world will wear you down and break you.

You have seen it before.  The people who are too worn down to respond to your smile.  Their heads are always down and each day is a grind.  They don’t know which direction they are headed or which direction to turn next.  They are being dragged along, like a dingy behind a speedboat. Helpless, hopeless, and heart-broken. 

Life can be so much more than this, if only you protect yourself from the churn of the world.