We are busier than ever. Technology is leading us down the road of being able to be busy wherever we go and at any time. It’s a constant stream of information that comes in, is processed in some way, and then goes out. We tell ourselves that we have to “make something of ourselves” and that we must always be creating to keep our edge. Yet, we have to consume information to “be-in-the-know” to keep that same edge.
It’s tough to “just be” anymore. Why can’t we stop for moment and see things for the actual way that they are? Why do we have to keep ourselves busy, obsessed, and “passionate” all of the time?
Fear of what is real
For many people the thought of stopping to feel anything that is real in their lives is a distant afterthought to all of the projects and actions that they have forced upon themselves (or been forced upon by others). I know that this is the case for myself. I’d most times much rather check things off a list that I can make endless for myself than stopping, getting out of work mode, and see my surroundings for what they really are. If I stop to take a look at what things truly are, then I may have to make a change in my life and change is hard.
The thing that we forget to realize is that this “stopping and being” is just another part of staying productive. If we don’t face the fear of seeing things for the way that they truly are because of the perceived pain of change, then we could be setting ourselves up to take on projects, actions, and even goals that don’t mean a damn to us.
Fear of the uncertain
Fear is a strong motivator, but it tends to be in the opposite way that we would like. Fear of uncertainty is another reason we have a difficult time stopping and being. I’m always freaked out that I won’t have enough money to take care of me and my loved ones. This uncertainty of the future motivates me to do things that are possibly not the greatest for me, like take and keep jobs that promise me decent money but don’t give me personal satisfaction in return, or take on side work that I know will help pay for things, but could leave me little time for anything else.
We don’t completely know what tomorrow will bring. Or even a minute from now. But that is a constant. We can plan for that uncertainty and face it.
What to do about it
The tips below are practical and possibly obvious, but that’s a good thing. The fact is that they work, but only if you work them. Most people won’t work them – they will scan over them and continue on. If you are experiencing the fear mentioned above, don’t scan these and move on. Try them out.
- Plan times to stop and be for a moment every day, multiple times a day. You don’t have to be Buddha, here. Simply stop for a moment outside of your email, phone, notifications, and anything else that keeps you busy. Stop and breath deep through your stomach. You can think whatever you want to think, just try to come back to your deep breaths.
- Plan times to write every day. You don’t have to be a poet or autobiographer, here. Simply get out pen and paper or your trusty plain-text editor and write your ass off. You can write about anything that you like. You may find some of these fears mentioned above start to come out. It’s a good think to notice them as it’s the only way to face them.
- Plan times to be with your friends and family every day. You don’t have to be the Partridge family or everyone’s BFF, here. Simply hang out with the people you love and remember why you love them. Also, remind yourself why they love you. We tend to think a lot about ourselves and not enough about others that are important.
- Plan time to plan for a moment every day. You don’t have to be a professional project manager or Mr. Allen, here. Simply take a look at your workload that is front of you (helps when you have that already defined!) and make decisions on what can stay, what can be gotten rid of, and what you should really be working on next. This step is much, much easier and closer to what you want and need to do when it is followed by the above three steps.
Stopping the rat race of your productive life can be tough. Especially since it feels that you never have enough time or energy to get everything done. The thing is that you may not need to get it all done. The only way to find this out is to face your fears of what is real and your uncertainty of the future by stopping and being everyday. Only then can you make the decision of what work you should keep in your life.
(Photo credit: Crying woman via Shutterstock)