The Emptiness Of A Busy Life
On A Busy Life
By Jackson Taylor: www.anchorforge.com
An often-heard sentiment can be as follows: “I have a great deal to do today. Workout, breakfast, a podcast on my way to work, read an article, see my morning clients, go through my emails while eating lunch, check my social media, see my afternoon clients, finish up my emails and clerical work (if I’m lucky!), make any necessary phone calls to end the day, go home, have dinner, watch a show with the family, go to bed, and do it all over again tomorrow.” Is there a familiarity in the structure of such a day? You could certainly substitute a host of other things in place of these examples such as a child’s baseball game, a meeting, coffee run, errands, surgeries, and the like. Regardless, we would often say that our days are busy and thus, productive. Be wary of a life that pursues being busy as the main tenant. Let me explain. We often place busyness under the cloak of productivity. The more we do, so we tell ourselves, the better we are doing. If every minute of the day is packed, we are clearly doing something right! Several questions must now be addressed. Are you busy for the sake of being busy? Are you filling your calendar to appear as if you are important and accomplished? Are you creating events so you do not feel any boredom? Does your schedule reflect what is important and essential in your life? Are you filling your time with other things so as to avoid what you should be doing? At the end of the week, did you get any closer to your goals? Will you look back in 20 years and be thankful for how busy you were? The best question to ask yourself is whether you feel the need to tell others how busy you are to validate yourself. A harsh question you may say and often a defensiveness arises in one’s postures and thoughts when such a question is asked. I do not blame you for such a response. May I admit that I feel the same defensiveness and continue to struggle with such a question. Bear with me though as this is a discussion worth the discomfort. Busyness does not mean productivity. It does not mean important. Most of all, it does not mean living a good life. It is simply the cramming of things to do in the time we are allotted. It makes us no better than another and, as is often seen, results in less productivity and happiness. As is attributed to Socrates (though proof of which seems to be nil), the following phrase is often heard, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” Regardless of the original orator, this is a powerful message. Beware of living a life filled to the brim with meetings, events, social media, and work. Yes, these things can be important, but we must ask ourselves, “How much time are they taking up?” Better yet, “What is truly important in our lives, and does my schedule reflect that?” Is being busy so critical that we neglect time with our families, time in self-reflection, time learning or reading, time volunteering? A common response, “Isn’t doing those things still keeping me busy?” Certainly. However, I do not consider myself busy when doing those things which enrich my life and relationships. Maybe this is a game of semantics but busyness is not an act of life that I see as worthwhile. It is true that meetings and work can be enriching, but are they as enriching as spending time with your children? Spouse? Friends? Are they as important as facing your flaws so you may become a better human being? This comes down to a question of priorities and responsibilities. Does your busy schedule keep you from the things you most value in your life? You may say, “But I have to work, I have bills and there is only so much time in a day!” You are correct. So the only question you should be asking yourself is how much of that time allotted to you outside of work is being spent on the more trivial things in your life? Is another meeting more important than your child’s baseball game? More important than a date night with your spouse? Is scrolling on social media more important than reading and self-reflection? If your schedule does not reflect the essential aspects of your life, you are doing yourself and your loved ones a grave disservice. What are you filling your day with beyond just work? Are you just keeping busy or are you cultivating a better version of yourself? I leave you with this from Greg McKeown, “What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead, we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying life with the most important people in our lives?” So, what is your busyness worth to you?
Dr. Jackson R. Taylor is a physical therapist and strength coach in Northeast Florida. He is the founder and owner of Anchor Forge Physical Therapy and Performance where he specializes in rehab and strength training for golfers both in-person and remotely. Jackson is an avid golfer, lifter, and outdoor enthusiast who has a passion for reading and challenging the status quo. For more information or for a consultation please visit www.anchorforge.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.