Give Me a Break: Are You Busy For a Reason?

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I see it all around me. And, yeah, lately, I’ve fallen prey to it, myself…

I’m the guy who’s usually insanely effective at focusing in on what I want, plotting a course, then doing anything and everything to make it happen. I’m “That Renegade Guy.” Got a cape and everything.

So, I’ve been wondering “what’s up with me?” lately.

Damned if it doesn’t suck just a little bit when you’re confronted with your own humanity and fallibility. Turns out, I’m great at giving everyone else a break…not so good when it comes to me.

In the 8-week period that ended 2008 and started 2009, I…

  • Sold the company I built for 7 years,
  • Launched a book and drove the 3-month “intensive” phase of the release campaign,
  • Launched a second blog, website, interview series and podcast.
  • Began R&D on up to 5 other companies, the first of which launches next month.

There’s a ton of emotion and work wrapped up in each one of these milestones.

Enough to demand the time and psychic space to recover, to process, to digest, to restore. Time I’ve not yet taken. Instead, I’ve fallen into what is, for me, the very unfamiliar territory of living far too reactively. I know that sounds like an odd thing to say, in light of how busy I am right now.

But, busy and conscious are two very different things.

Busyness that’s not driven by clarity and purpose is almost always a bad thing. And, it’s near impossible to find clarity and purpose without space. At least, for me.

So, question is, what am I going to do about it?

Here’s what. I’ll be stepping back a bit and asking whether the millions of things that are keeping me busy these days are the things that are moving me toward my continuing quest to come alive…or just keeping me from re-examining “what” will make me come alive as I move into what is very much a new phase of both my career and my life (don’t worry, not bailing on the blog!).

And, I invite you ask that same question and share your thoughts with our amazing family below.

  • What’s keeping you so incredibly busy right now? And…
  • is what’s keeping you so busy moving you strongly in the direction of coming alive…or simply keeping you so busy you don’t have to think about what you really want to do, and why you’re not doing it?

As always, would love to hear your thoughts…

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13 responses

13 responses to “Give Me a Break: Are You Busy For a Reason?”

  1. Busy and conscious ARE two very different things. Great point! And great post too!

  2. I’d like to think that I’ve moved beyond what other people think but it is clear from my cleaning frenzy prior to my house guest’s arrival that I haven’t. And I’m so busy trying to clean and fix up my house that I’ve been using it as an excuse to avoid doing scary things that I need to do to get my girl’s Website up and running.

  3. Hi Jonathan,

    I was talking with someone the other day and she mentioned that we don’t really ask the flowers to stay open at night to “be more effective” so why do we do this to ourselves? A good topic. (I’m a subscriber.)

  4. Ever noticed how disorganized and incompetent people resent it if you are productive and NOT as insanely busy as they are?

  5. Karl Keefer says:

    I think it’s time for you to go on vacation.
    I do enjoy your blog posts, but I’ll let you take a break. 🙂

  6. Erica says:

    I just hit the same point with my dissertation. Crazy busy for months on end, and then all of a sudden I realized that I didn’t need to be busy after all. That it was all coming together without me freaking out, and that I could return to being conscious, because the busy was getting in the way. I think we all do it. It’s just a matter of whether or not you catch yourself at it. =)

  7. Yes. I am busy building the life I always dreamed of and at times it can also run amuck.

    What’s that saying, “jack of all trades master of none”?

    For me, I am usually busy with many of the things that will ultimately offer that rock star life that I strive for. My issue is that I get bogged down in the details of all the projects, those things that keep me spinning in circles busy, instead of setting up a grounded game plan. I’ve moved past the point where I am just busy to keep my mind off what I should be doing and I fall into the trap of being busy with too many to do lists.

    Sounds like your 5 projects syndrome ;0)

    Think on this: Are you super busy with many things that are valid and worthy of your attention? Would learning to prioritize and stay conscious, one foot in front of the other, keep you moving in a direction that sees you coming alive and at the same time offer a bit more efficiency?

    Stay focused on what has to happen in this very moment. You can also try a different approach. Get out of your “habits” if you are feeling funny. Our process can change over time right along with our dreams and desires.

    Perhaps you don’t have to drop any of your projects. Perhaps there is room to put a few on the back burner. Perhaps there is room to do ONE thing on each project every day and get them all up and running.

    Maybe not.

    So then as you pointed out, the other end of the spectrum here is this… What would happen if you stopped? Is there room to shut off all the forward momentum, take a step back, and then see what is really important?

    Perhaps the next move when you find yourself running in circles IS one of stillness. Mine sure was.

    I shut everything off, stopped checking my emails, twitter, FB, and the phone every two seconds. I made room for the Universe to move as they say and I was hit with a huge eureka moment.

    It didn’t take long. In fact, I picked up right where I left off only I was more focused and driven and my process shifted leaving me the time to do what I needed to do with room to spare.

    We can’t just be all output. Make time for input AND reflection.

    Those my two cents my friends.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post.

    ;0)

  8. Melissa says:

    Thanks so much for the post!

    Business vs productivity is something I struggle with all of the time and I have to consciously step back, take a breath and re-evaluate. I actually find that email is my biggest enemy at times. I can spend hours answering emails, and if I don’t I get bogged down and complaints from customers. I know I need to start handing over some of these responsibilities to someone else, but that can be hard, too. I do know this – I’m never going to get big by playing so small!

    Thanks again! (This is one of my favorite topics!)

  9. Hugh says:

    It is interesting how you don’t consider yourself busy if you enjoy what you are doing.

  10. “It’s near impossible to find clarity and purpose without space.”

    I’m that way too. I don’t need a lot of space, but I do need to take a step back and look over things, make sure I’m doing what I need to do, and sometimes think about how to do them better – which sometimes means stop doing what isn’t enjoyable or benefiting me in some way.

    Good post; I enjoyed it.

  11. At the moment finishing my novel is keeping me insanely busy. I have this annoying thing called a day job and it’s really getting in the way 🙂 Hopefully next time I write a novel, I’ll be able to devote more of myself to it. Having said that – its amazing how everything insignificant can just be pushed to the backburner when I’m doing something that really makes me come alive. 🙂

  12. Great post!

    I’ve been wanting to create my own website but I too have a day job and that’s taking up a lot of my time. I find myself thinking about it more and less doing! I think your post gave me some inspiration to actually start it!

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