Everyone is “busy” these days.
At least that’s what we tell others, and say to ourselves.
So, so much to do with work and kids and self-improvement and keeping up with the news and keeping up with the Joneses.
And that’s without adding the holidays on top the already teetering stack of “things to do.”
I’m no different. The days fly by and the list of things I should do, want to do and need to do never, ever gets shorter.
Sometimes I wonder – is this it?
Is this all life is: a manic hustle to get things done?
Of course not. And yet… this is what we spend our precious weeks and months doing. One moment after another focusing on accomplishing something useful. Or, collapsing in a heap because we simply don’t have anything left to give.
Sometimes the hustle is for a greater purpose. The diaper changes and endless games of Candyland and hours spent watching less-than-stellar sports and listening to mediocre renditions of musical classics are all in pursuit of raising a child to be a healthy, well-loved adult. It can be a grind in the day-to-day, but the larger purpose is clear.
When you’re building a business, it’s common to get super-focused on work, excluding social and leisure activities (and sleep) in pursuit of building a new company and creating a solid financial foundation for your future.
The trick is to remind yourself that the hustle is not the point. The hustle may be necessary today, but can easily become a habit if you’re not careful. We can grow accustomed to the urgent humming in our bloodstream to do more and do it faster just like we can get used to the jittery awareness of a caffeine buzz. It doesn’t feel good, exactly, but life feels odd without it.
As the old saying goes, we need to try to see the forest for the trees. To see all the individual elements that make up day-to-day life but also refocus our vision to look further into the past and future. To meet the gaze of our fellow travelers (i.e. your family and friends). To consider that the spot of forest we find ourselves in at the moment may just be perfect.
For maybe only the briefest second, you can stop. You can listen to the sounds of the birds singing, your kids playing, your spouse puttering in the kitchen, your friends laughing around the table and realize this is why. All of the energy we put into making our lives better is really only so that we can collect these moments and string them into a life worth living. The satisfaction of crossing things off a to-do list will never beat the soul-restoring moments of a long hug or a glorious new vista.
Stop. Let your gaze shift from all the trees and focus on the forest – the life you have created so far. Breathe.
And then get back to it.