“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
– Ferris Bueller
The personal significance of the above quote from one of my favorite movies has evolved since my high school days. In high school, Ferris’ wisdom was a good reminder to get my head out of the books every now and then and have some fun. Stressing about grades and college, while a necessary evil, was not always conducive to a fun high school experience.
Today, Ferris’ words are a good reminder for me to slow down every now and then and make room and time in my schedule for me. This might sound kind of selfish; but with a driven family (four kids and my wife), a company to run, a Scout troop to guide, a baseball team to help coach, and all of the world’s problems to solve, I will be ineffective if I lose myself. If I never make time for reflection, relaxation (on my terms and on things I like to do), and recharging of my batteries I become vulnerable to losing myself; therefore, in reality, it would be selfish of me to NOT make time for myself.
I, like much of our society (at least here in the States), am pretty good at making a bed for myself that is busy and hectic, yet not always productive. Busyness does not always translate into productivity and results. Sometimes busyness is just an exercise in movement — full of aimless wandering and the delusion of accomplishment. Sometimes it is hard to recognize when we are stuck in a busyness loop.
I try to determine the value of each of my action’s before spending my time and energy; however, when I am running quickly, I do not always do this effectively. One thing leads to another and before I know it I am halfway into my week and further behind on my to-do list. This mode of operation sometimes leads to a feeling of being out-of-control and out-of-touch with what is important…which then leads to more fundamental questioning of purpose and focus. It is at this point where feeling lost sometimes kicks in.
I have gotten better at working buffer into my schedule. I schedule free time and protect it against invaders. When my free time appointments pop up, then I take them and do something I want to do – like read, play golf, sit in a blind, or watch a movie. I also use my free time to pray, reflect, and recenter.
The key is to suspend everything else, no matter the urgency, and isolate yourself in a world where you get to remember who you are and what is important to you – virtues, commitments, achievements, and memories. I believe this is where most folks fail. It is hard to suspend the busyness of the world and serve yourself. Feelings of guilt and laziness creep in and before you know it (and probably before you are ready) you jump back into the fray. Resisting the temptation to jump back in too early takes practice (as does any change in behavior). Try starting with small breaks from busyness. Once you can go 30 minutes to an hour without feeling anxiety about the world moving forward without you, then try half a day. Once you can go half a day without checking your phone and email during your self-imposed sabbatical, then go for a full work-day.
Remember, I am not talking about a vacation (those are more infrequent and usually last several days). I am talking about scheduled free time during your work week. Before you resign yourself to the fact that your employment arrangement does not afford such a luxury, try to be creative and come up with options on how to work in free time. Perhaps you can work longer one day to get time off on another. Perhaps using some of your vacation time in smaller increments will serve your mental and spiritual health more effectively than multiple week-long vacations.
I hope some of you get value out of this blog posting. Staying centered is paramount to consistent performance and vigilance to internal and external threats. We are more prone to being knocked down in life when we lose our balance and ourselves.