My calendar used to be so full there was nary an unscheduled, white space in it.
This board meeting, that networking group, this event, that book club, this church group. A home business, business team meetings, master-mind calls, webinars. I’d start a weekly business group here and a bi-monthly women’s mentoring group there. I’d swoop in and volunteer two hours of time here, four hours there, plus an extra quarterly leaders’ meeting over there.
I scheduled all of these commitments around my full-time job of homeschooling my son.
Plus, reading for pleasure, reading for personal development, reading for spiritual growth, exercising, caring for five dogs, being a wife, mom, friend, sister, cooking nutritious meals, keeping the house clean (or not so clean, or just clean enough not to completely repel a visitor) . . .
People asked, “How do you do it all?” They said, “I could never do all that!” With the slightest twitch of an eye, I’d reply, “It just takes discipline!”
Now I use another word to describe what it “takes”–and that word is denial.
Denial with a capital “D.”
Despite the fact that I seemed to competently lead, create, and participate in all these worthy activities, I had a gnawing feeling, deep inside, that I was paying a hidden price. I was so busy doing that I didn’t have time to delve.
Doing without Delving equaled Denial.
I started hyperventilating, just occasionally. I began chewing my nails, turning my fingers into bloody stumps.
And then a friend of mine encouraged me to force myself to make time for silence. One day a week to play and not work. At first I thought, “A whole day? That’s insane!” The more I resisted, the more I realized I needed it.
In the weekly silence, I started to discover things about myself. I began to delve.
I realized that
- I hated my home business;
- I wanted to be more present while homeschooling my son;
- I wanted to spend more time hanging out with my husband; and
- I didn’t like being so busy that I didn’t have time to think.
Stunningly, I realized I wanted to stop doing most of the things I was doing. I realized I wasn’t making enough time for the things that really, really mattered to me. And that I often wasn’t truly present when I was doing the things that really mattered to me.
Painfully, slowly, I cut, cut, cut things out of my life. For months, I would scramble to my calendar only to see . . . nothing.
It felt really creepy. I felt I should fill it with . . . what? The stuff that made me hyperventilate and rip my flesh?
No matter how busy we are, we can decrease our stress and make time to delve into our true purpose in life.
These steps helped me, perhaps they will help you:
- Commit to silence. No matter how busy you are, it’s imperative that you make time for silence. Can you take one day a week to play and not work? A half day? Two hours? Fifteen minutes a day?
- List your heart priorities. Focus on the things that call to your spirit as well as those that honor obligations to the important people in your life.
- Track your time. For two weeks, write down what you do all day long and how long you do it. Don’t judge, just document.
- Correct imbalance. If your time tracker leaves little energy for your heart’s priorities, correct the imbalances. Protect and guard the time you set aside for your heart’s priorities.
- Reassess. After time goes by, stop and recheck your life’s balance. Have you cut too much? Are you neglecting something else? Has the old “busy-ness” started to creep back in?
The results have been life changing for me. I literally breathe easier now. I am doing what I love truly love to do rather than what I think I should love to do.
But the best result of all is the deepening of my close relationships with those who matter most: my husband, my son, my close friends, and God.
Have you experienced a life-altering awakening? What helped you get there? What did you learn about yourself?