Don’t move faster than you can feel.
– Teja Bell, Qigong and Zen Master
I’m busier than I want to be. It’s confusing because most everything I‘m doing I’ve chosen to do. My business is booming, and I love my work. I want to serve more, so I’m increasingly active in two service organizations, and empty-nesting has made it easier to travel, and then there’s golf. While I preach the importance of being versus doing, I struggle balancing the two.
Are you as busy as you want to be? Are you spending time on what matters? Slowing down is challenging in our culture of more—where people over-work, -plan, -eat, -drink, and -consume.
If you are serious about changing and really slowing down, you may have to own up to one or more of three reasons you’re addicted to more.
Reason #1: You have yet to decide you’re enough.
Saying yes too often to opportunities to work or play, hoarding possessions and money, over-parenting, and over-identifying with your roles and activities are all signs that you may be on a treadmill chasing that elusive feeling of having enough.
While on the hunt for more, you’re too busy to enjoy all the great things you are doing. Too often we fill up from the outside to fill the emptiness we feel on the inside.
When you believe you are enough, your heart and soul are full. Enoughness means you have enough self-acceptance to be indifferent to your accomplishments, financial wins, and titles, just as you are indifferent to your failures, losses, and unsung roles. A full heart dissolves the restless craving for the next trip, deal, or project. When you know you are enough, you know you have enough.
When are you enough? The moment you say you are. Believing you’re enough is a choice. Make it!
Reason #2: You don’t know where you’re going.
We each need our own filter to help us determine what to do next. Whether you call it your purpose, mission, or values alignment, your ego needs a compass. To feel fulfilled, we need a way to channel our energy toward something greater than ourselves in order to have direction and meaning.
Temptation comes from within via your shadow. Your shadow is a set of unconscious, hidden, or denied beliefs that drives your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Temptation comes from others through our culture’s collective shadow (personal shadows that are reinforced by groupthink).
Discover your big, hairy, and inspiring mission—or risk being pulled around by shadows. Draft a one-sentence mission statement that includes a few values you hold dear and the superpower you use to make things happen in the world. Start every day asking yourself if you are living in line with your mission or in line with your shadow’s mission.
Reason #3: You’re avoiding pain.
The Enneagram system helps map our patterns for avoiding pain. Eights jump into big projects, nines merge with the needs or goals of others, ones keep striving to be the best, twos get lost in their relationships, threes set and achieve goals no matter what, fours nurse their pain, fives emotionally detach, sixes worry or project their pain on others, and sevens make plans and jump from one idea to another.
Your activities may appear admirable, fun, or noble, but in reality they could be a distraction from something that’s not working. Perhaps you’re avoiding a marriage that’s dead, grief you don’t want to feel over the loss of a loved one, or the reality of your empty nest.
When it comes to dealing with the inevitable pain of life, the only way out is in. Instead of avoiding it, what would happen if you embraced it? Pretend you have only seven months to live, and then start clearing out the baggage now in order to make room for a new adventure or sense of aliveness.
Less Doing, More Being
The reasons you can’t slow down are not that different than the reasons you have not moved from tactical manager to strategic leader. You can choose to transcend your habits that lead you away from living a more present and fulfilling life and from being a more strategic and inspiring leader. What’s your intention now? How do you want to spend your precious time? Perhaps less is more.
Note: If you want to dive deeper into the four elements of a fulfilled life, get a copy of Brian’s book, The Business of Wanting More: Why Some Executives Move from Success to Fulfillment and Others Don’t.