This week has been full of ‘connection’ calls for me—various mastermind group calls and catch ups in the diary. And while the diary itself has looked ‘full’, it hasn’t felt busy.
You see busy is not about how well we have planned things out, managed our time, or deleted things from our diaries—busy is a feeling.
A feeling I got to know so well it absorbed into my identity.
At the peak of my stressed-out burnt-out period (check out my Freedom from Busy story over on the podcast if you want to know more 😉), if anyone told me to “just let something go” or “you don’t have to be so busy” or “just chill” I’d have pushed back hard. The thought of not being busy took away a part of my identity.
If busy was taken away, what would be left? If I didn’t have all these things to handle, how could I look good? If I stopped for too long, wouldn’t everything I’d worked so hard to create just vanish?
And yet busy was also creating deep internal frustration within me, with where I was at it in my life. Despite having a great job, great friends, great home. Internally I was in turmoil. Nothing quite felt like pure satisfaction or pure joy. I was existing rather than living my life.
Busy had become a big joy-blocker in my life. Instead of seeing it as a numbing tool, I was telling myself it was my superpower.
What I couldn’t see clearly at the time is that busy was giving me an illusion of control. I knew how to be busy. I knew how to handle competing priorities, to work to hard and fast deadlines, to show up confident at work, and still say yes to after work drinks.
Yet internally there was zero control. I felt lost. Unsure of everything—from when to book my next holiday, to whether I should change careers, to what would make me feel like myself again.
You see in order to control that out-of-control feeling, I turned to being busy. And it looked like trying to put everything outside of me back together again. Everything external to me was suddenly a project to get sorted and resolved.
Yet when you put all your time, energy and focus on that which is external to you—you burn out fast.
It was only when I started to acknowledge the uncertainty inside (it looked like lots of conversations with dear friends, plenty of tears, and writing about my feelings) I realised that I had it all wrong. Because I would never have control over those external things—I couldn’t change my boss’ deadlines, my best friend’s mood, or the number of car parking spots available in the morning.
I could change how I felt about those things. And how I chose to react to them. What I made them mean. How I allowed them to make me feel.
I could get angry about the car spots, or I could walk to work. I could accept my friend’s grumpiness or I could choose to do something by myself.
Acknowledging how I felt, and that I had a choice gave me back my sense of control.
If you’re chasing control through busy right now,
maybe this story will help you redirect that attention. When you focus on what is within your control (i.e. you), everything (yes, everything) changes.
Let me know what shifts for you today. ❤️