The difficulty you don’t account for in working at a frenetic pace and taking on task upon project upon task is stopping. Because of course you can stop; you can make strategic changes to the organization or to your personal life to free up time and energy from the commitments cramming your calendar at present. But your brain and your body–even your spirit–are keyed to all those commitments, and you will not easily adjust to their absence.
An hour freed up from some prior obligation will easily be filled with another one. Otherwise, a voice in your head will whisper an accusatory question: “Why aren’t you doing more?” It will suggest you’ve become lazy and direct your attention to all the activity happening around you and on Pinterest and Instagram.
I think the feeling of effectiveness we’re chasing in our work (including our work running our households) is 1) a mirage–we will never feel effective enough–and 2) insidious to our spiritual health, which of course means our mental and physical health.
Busy is a choice. But busy for what?
2 thoughts on “Stopping”
Busy for what, indeed? I appreciate this more than I want the internet to know.
Dear Rocky, Private — well, sort of — and lingering thanks to you for the post on Stopping. I don’t know whether you’ve heard, but my 90-day “introductory” performance review at my job should have been labeled my farewell review — it ended with a termination letter. I knew I’d disagreed with my bosses, but their encouragement to study programs I’d never heard of became — can I spell this? — “You’re spending too much time studying.” So it never really fit, and it has stopped.
I’m still blogging and keeping up my other writing as I work on my renewed search; I’m planning to go back to the Career Transitions Center, which has helped me through other changes with coaching and people to report to. The introductory session’s on the one-month mark since losing the job — which is also the six-month mark since Dad died.
I’m finding some job possibilities already, including a part-time publicity aide at the Chicago Symphony which would help. (I’ll quiz the choir to see who they know in “human resources” there!)
But I’m also taking the occasional day — and night — to stop. I dream sometimes of Dad reciting the Robert Burns poem his friend Gus and I will take over in January, and I heard him so strongly a couple of nights ago that I got up, got my book, and sat and recited it for a while. It helped. Then I read a couple of funny stories in a book Dad loved, and I could sleep again.
Since that interrupted night, I’ve had several stops. Thanks for this post as backup. Love, Margaret