The hardest project we will ever work on is ourselves. The more I attend therapy, the more this fact rings true. Most recently, while working to meet a grant deadline, I found myself being unintentionally short, defensive and frustrated. My responses had less to do with the grant or my writing partner and everything to do with the busyness of my day. I’d been running and working non-stop, and I let my busyness cause me to become an unpleasant person.
Burnout and being busy are very common realities, and I am well aware of when I’m reaching my breaking point. On a day to day basis there are practices we can put in place to help us pause, disconnect, and rejuvenate in order to make it through the day without burning out. (I obviously failed at applying this before working on the grant.) On a larger scale, it’s imperative that we are constantly in tune with who we are becoming in the midst of being busy. After all, what good is the work we do if we become distasteful people as a result?
I recently heard a sermon that directly addressed the reality of busyness. The guest speaker, Brie Davis, said that in order to live a fulfilled life we need to detach from things that don’t matter and attach to what’s important. The point that hit me the most was that we need to “detach from busy and attach to becoming.” I don’t have a list of steps for this one, but I’ll share an example and personal experience.
Becoming versus doing
Brie talked about the story of Mary and Martha. Martha was in the kitchen diligently working in preparation for the guests while Mary was in the other room sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to Him talk. I am so often Martha. I can very easily be caught up in the tasks of the moment, instead of soaking in the importance of it. According to Brie, Martha was doing, while Mary was becoming. Mary wasn’t afraid to pause and soak in the lessons Jesus was imparting in order to become a better person. When Martha raised her frustration, Jesus confirmed Mary’s choice by saying, “Martha, you are so upset about many things, when only few things are needed.”
When we are focused on doing, we become consumed with meaningless distractions. What’s most important is that we are becoming the person we are destined to be in order to completely fulfill our purpose.
The power of a pause
I’ve learned this before, but it’s still not a natural habit for me. I am able to get so much more done, when I take time throughout the day to pause. If I start my day with prayer, get in a yoga session after work, take a 30-minute nap, or sit still while playing music for a moment, I have the energy and patience to knock off everything on the to-do list. The stillness is rejuvenating, but it takes practice to make it a norm.
When I finally took time after grant writing to reflect on my feelings, I knew I needed to reach out to my writing partner and apologize for my actions. The way I acted was not reflective of who I am, and I had to be accountable for not being my best self.
Reality is we won’t always get it right, but as long as we continue to learn, we have the power to make adjustments and respond differently. Don’t let busyness consume you. Focus on becoming.