Maybe you can relate to feeling overwhelmed and spread too thin. For many years I ran myself ragged trying to do all the things. In my quest to find contentment, approval, and a sense of worth, I pushed hard, stayed up late, said yes to all requests, and ended up giving the dregs to those closest to my heart.
I suffered from several limiting mindsets. Perfectionism, FOMO, and people pleasing were my rule of life. All my choices and decisions unknowingly filtered through these broken paradigms. I lived on a habitrail, and like a scampering rat, the end of my ceaseless careening forward never seemed to come into view.
Depleted, Defeated, and Done
Little by little, I hit the bottom of my reserves. A longing to live a different way started edging its way into my thoughts. I read books, saw a therapist, worked through deeper issues and faulty belief systems, and regularly met with a mentor. Recovering from compulsive busyness took work — hard work.
Overcoming my frenetic lifestyle has been a journey. Like any long trip, I’ve had detours, stalls, unexpected joys, and ultimately been irrevocably changed. In early adulthood, I denied my overly committed life. When people would say, “You’re so busy!” (which they often did) I would either take it as a compliment or defend myself saying I could handle it all.
God forbid if I would have admitted my burn out or lack of having it all together.
Against the Grain
The world puts us in a catch 22 when it comes to compulsive overachievement. We are applauded, encouraged, and goaded on to be productive. We love the people who miraculously seem to have it all together — we love to think they do, and that somehow that utopian destination could be ours too, if only we work hard enough to get there. We strive and scramble, thinking all we long for is just around the bend.
We buy the lie that productivity and overachievement is the Yellow Brick Road leading to Oz.
Like Dorothy and her friends, when we get to Oz, we find it’s full of normal people, struggling just like us. Then we find out the best thing of all — everything we longed for was ours all along.
On the other hand, we receive messages like, “You deserve a break today.”
No kidding! After running ourselves ragged chasing the wind, we DO need a break! Think of all the expectations foisted upon us, from looking like someone who spends their life at the gym, to having an amazing family life with children who dress ready for a Pinterest post, to eating organic, sustainable, grass-fed protein sources. We are saddled with burdens of perfectionism and excellence on all sides.
As much as those commercials offering a much-needed break appeal to us, they confirm this push-pull message of the world: get busy, and chill out. How on earth can we do both? So, we run ourselves even more ragged trying to fit “play” and “relaxation” into our already impacted schedules. We don’t even know what it means to rest and how to incorporate real rest into our go-go-go lifestyles.
What’s a Girl to Do?
To overcome this pressure from inside (our own broken motives for staying busy) and from outside (societal expectations that keep us productive for all the wrong reasons), we have to make very specific and concrete choices. I have slowly and consistently worked to step back, define what matters to me, and live in a way that results in the outcomes I was chasing through my frenzied activity.
That’s the irony. When we step back and find our lane, we attain so much of what was promised to us through our overcommitted life. Living from a sense of personal inner purpose brings contentment. We no longer live for the applause of others. Our clarity and sense of direction comes from knowing what we are doing and why we are choosing to do it.
Some of the changes I have made were internal. The shift in my heart made it possible for me to take on life-giving habits. Instead of having 10 New Year’s resolutions that fade away before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I am able to maintain balanced a lifestyle cadence. I eliminate what is superfluous and find myself with time to abide with God in the morning, give my best to my motherhood throughout the day, accomplish many different tasks and have energy left to connect with my husband in the evenings and on weekends. I make room for friendship, hobbies (most of which involve writing at this point in time), and serving others. This well-rounded life astounds me, and it is mine.
A Book and More
Last March as I sat in my car after attending a fundraiser for breast cancer. I had a vision for a book. The full idea came to me in one fell swoop. I sat with my Notes App open, rapidly dictating my thoughts. I envisioned the book, courses, coaching … all to help women be free from the lifestyle that kept them up to their neck in busyness.
I know of so many women living the same type of hurried and harried existence I once did. I knew I had practiced living in the solution long enough to have something to say. Over the past six months, I’ve gathered surveys, consolidated my thoughts, and written a book: Slow Down, Mama: Intentional Living in a Hurried World.
If you want to slow down, learn to make room to savor relationships, incorporate rest, and live according to your deepest purposes, use that link to hop over to Amazon to grab a copy. Love more intentionally while making room for what matters most. Let’s start a revolution of intentional living …
Let’s slow down, Mama.