Everyone is busy. Many of us view it as a necessity and too many of us, myself included, use it as a default response to the questions “how are you?” and “what are you up to?”. Ewww. I’ve got to stop doing that. Sometimes my busyness reflects less about my drive to achieve and more about my need to feel significant. It can serve as a false badge of value; an illusion of importance to present to the world in order to prove - Hey, I’m somebody. I matter!!
The other day I listened to a pretty smart dude - shout out to Jordan Rice - talk about the importance of rest and what things hold us back from enjoying the rest we need. He made many points that held up an uncomfortable mirror to my life, but one point that has continued to run through my head concerning why we at times are unnecessarily busy is that we are working too hard to prove ourselves. More importantly, we work too hard to prove ourselves TO ourselves. This fact is frustratingly accurate in my own life. It is also frustratingly obvious and something I already knew, but I ignore and excuse it in order to inflate my ego and suffocate my insecurities.
I’ve casually begun reflecting on how I am currently committing the time in my day and trying to assess what I choose to do out of passion or necessity, and what I choose to do out of inadequacy. The first two categories I can jive with; those are the forces ideally deciding all my time commitments; however, I know that third bugger - the feeling of inadequacy - all too often heavily influences my decision making. While I can justify almost all my investments of time and effort into the categories of passion or necessity, if I’m REALLY honest, it’s just not true. Especially as a performer with dreams and aspirations of greatness, when I’m not currently in a show or a part of a cool project or creating something “important” it’s easy to feel like a real loser grasping at straws to sound like my career is legit. Yeah, yeah, we all know an artist’s life ebbs and flows with projects of varying pizazz and societal significance, but the truth is that when you’re in the trenches and you’re not doing something most folks are impressed by, you feel like you’ve gotta prove yourself. Enter busyness. What a great way to prove you matter! Just load your life with work to seem important, inaccessible, in high demand . . . you get it. There are plenty of other words we could add to that list, but the point is, after a while, no one cares and you are stuck bearing the burden of busyness.
Here’s a challenge (I am going to participate in as well); create a LOVE LIST.
1. Begin by listing all your current energy investments. Work, part time jobs, side hustles, super side hustles, on-going social commitments, auditions, rehearsals, grocery shopping, housework, e-mailing, composing, writing, knitting, blogging, etc.
2. Underline the things you consider necessities such as grocery shopping, the work providing your main source of income, or housework.
3. CIRCLE the things you love; things that really excite you or give you a sense of purpose and meaning. If you’re a performer, hopefully you’re circling such things as auditioning and rehearsing (if those things are left uncircled, let’s have a different conversation about career change). Regardless of what kind of artist or professional you are, be honest with yourself; don’t just circle things because you are supposed to.
4. Put a line through everything else that remains on the list. That’s right, scratch it out! These are likely things you need to cut out of your life. Maybe to create space for new opportunities or maybe to create space for rest.
By no means is this exercise a solution to your problems or a guaranteed way to discern when and how you should be committing your time and talents, but it’s a step in the right direction! Begin opening your head and your heart to the reality of why you do what you do and give yourself the permission to cut back, change direction, and start doing what actually matters. The words ‘YES’ and ‘NO’ are powerful words, so before allowing your days to be dictated by either of them, start with the word ‘WHY’.