It’s all too much: How to get off the hamster wheel of a busy life

I’ve written before on the topic of being busy, and I see far too many people hustling and bustling about their daily lives, plates full but lives unfulfilled. Some of the most motivated people I know are the ones striving to be better and taking on all kinds of challenges and opportunities in their lives. And while I of course want to celebrate the go-getters and encourage every single person to fill their lives with things that bring them joy, I also want to offer some words of encouragement to the ones out there who still don’t feel like they’re doing enough. This is to those in the trenches of the battle for what I call "enoughness"--I see far too many people convinced that they need to be more in order to be worthy. It's a reminder that the work isn't to prove that we're enough, but to learn to give ourselves our own approval first and foremost... 

In the pursuit of being better, do not lose sight of all the ways you are already doing a great job. So many of us are afraid to celebrate where we are at, often for fear of “letting ourselves go” or appearing lazy. But far from sitting on your haunches, its usually the people who are doing the most who are the most afraid to acknowledge all they do. They’re the ones who no one would ever accuse of being lazy or of doing too little. It’s an irrational fear that keeps up trapped in the day to day of our lives, even if they’re not what we want for ourselves.  

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your life, stop and ask yourself, what would happen if I let some of it go? There is no one waiting at the end of our lives with a tally of the hours we spent working or hustling waiting to give us an award. All we have is how we feel about our lives. It’s unfortunate that our culture glorifies busy, but changing that requires that we stop playing by the rules that say that if you’re not killing yourself and running yourself ragged, you’re not doing enough. That culture changes one of us at a time. There is a such a difference between the kind of busy that we choose that really means something to us and the kind that comes from not feeling like we’re enough.

That's all fine and dandy, but now what? 

Question your motives

Coaching is all about questions, and luckily, we can do a little self-coaching if we’re willing to get real with ourselves and take the time to listen. Here are some I would ask someone feeling a little caught up in the busy-ness of their life:

  • What are you doing _______________ for? 
  • What does being busy mean to you? 
  • How are you spending my days? 
  • On a regular basis, do you go to bed feeling accomplished, and wake up feeling motivated? 
  • Are you driving your day, or is your day driving you? 

Live out of a desire to IMprove, not to prove

So often, we are rewarded when we demonstrate our skills or achievements. We get rewards for good grades growing up, we receive bonuses based on how well we prove our skills at work, etc. I think this carries over into the way we live our lives, and even though no one rewards us for being busy, we keep looking for recognition and confirmation of our enoughness all around us. We live to prove, rather than focusing on trying to improve ourselves. Move away from the need to prove yourself. If you’re committed to your growth and ongoing personal development, the idea of proving yourself once and for all is silly. Instead, thinking about always improving and being proud of your current place and progress is a much more sustainable and gratifying way to look at yourself. Rather than setting a goal that will always be a little out of reach, give yourself a goal of constantly stretching yourself and seeing what you’re capable of. 

Live as if you’re already enough

What would change in your life if you decided that you were already enough? This question can be powerful, because it gives us an opportunity to explore what we really want for ourselves--and shows us what we’re depriving ourselves of. In any situation, you can ask yourself, how would I handle this if I had nothing to prove? We can’t overhaul our lives all at once, but we can make big shifts by bringing consciousness into the choices we make on a daily basis, one at a time. Start operating from a place of enough-ness and see what opens up in your life.