talk with friends and family on the phone, by email or in person?
watch a movie either on TV or in the theater?
spend quality time with your spouse, significant other, children?
enjoy reading a good book just for pleasure?
prepare a special meal of one of your favorite dishes and savor it?
sit outside with a cup of coffee or tea, a glass of wine or some fine Scotch, bourbon or brandy and watch the sun rise or set?
visit a park, shopping mall, the downtown of a small town and simply people watch?
go on a road trip, tour, cruise or climb Mt. Everest?
practice the lost art of doing absolutely NOTHING?
to LIVE the ONLY LIFE you have - NOW - IN THE PRESENT?
You can add your own questions to this list. I'm sure there are many things you can think of that you often tell people that you're too busy to do.
Whose Fault Is It That We're Too Busy?
In our society there is never enough time. Of course, whose fault is that? I'm sure you'd like to blame your job or family responsibilities or commitments of all kinds you make to others that you really didn't want to do and don't want to do, but you continue to make these commitments. These commitments can be to all kinds of things of value like to your church or religious organization, to the PTA if you have kids in school, to the community theater in your town, to the Boy (Cub) Scouts, Girl (Brownies) Scouts and similar as a scout leader. Perhaps you are involved in local politics or as an officer of your home owners association. Maybe you're a little league baseball, soccer or football coach. Again, you can add as many things to this list as you can think of that impact your personal time.
So, here's the question. If you don't do all these things that take up your time, will the world come to an end? Will our society crumble if you choose taking time for yourself as opposed to being committed to so many outside drains on your time, energy and resources? I've said this before in this blog and I'll say it again, this life is not a dress rehearsal. This is the performance of a lifetime - YOUR lifetime. And here's the kicker, none of us know when the curtain is coming down on our performance.
Oh, you say, I'll get to it when the family is grown and out of the nest. Well, in the typical family of three children, that's between 22 and 30 years of your "performance." Or, you'll say, well, I'll have plenty of time to do that when I retire. Well, there goes 40 to 45 years of your performance - IF you are in a position to retire when you think you'd like to or if you even make it to retirement age. It doesn't matter what the commitment is that you've made, it all requires time, energy and resources.
Self-centered or Honest?
So, am I saying you should be totally self-centered and not participate in any of the other activities I've mentioned or the many more you can add to the list? I'm not suggesting that at all. I simply asked the question are you too busy? How can you answer that question honestly? Remember, living free means we get to make all our own choices and decisions about out own time, energy, resources and life. If you feel you're too busy, there is absolutely no one to blame for that except yourself and you can change it.
I remember, many years ago, when a friend and colleague in a multi-level marketing business I was involved in for a number of years asked me to do something for him. When I arrived at the meeting we were both attending, he asked me if I had done whatever it was he had requested me to do. I hadn't and I replied with a pretty typical answer (excuse), "No! I didn't have time to do it." He responded to me, saying, "Don't you mean you didn't MAKE time to do it?" The truth is, I didn't make the time because I was too busy doing too many other things, any number of which were very likely not as important as fulfilling his request. And to be brutally honest, I'd have to say I really didn't want to do what he requested, so I didn't make time to do it. Why didn't I just say, "No, I don't choose to do this." rather then accepting an obligation I didn't want to fulfill?
I don't know about you, but I've spent most of my life being too busy. I hate that some of us allow five, six and seven decades go by before we figure out that we're too busy because we don't MAKE the time to do the things we want to do for ourselves.
I've dated a few women over the years who were delightful and wonderful company. They were grandparents (to be honest, I'm not yet a grandparent). Everything they wanted to do had to be arranged around their children's and grandchildren's schedules. It might have been babysitting, attending two or three soccer games in a day once or twice a week, picking the grandchildren up after school, watching them while the parents went away on a business trip or vacation for two. Basically, while I very much enjoyed these women and their companionship, I wasn't interested in having my life and my planning of events I believed that we'd both enjoy sharing to be controlled by their children and grandchildren.
These were choices these lovely women made and I make no judgment about their choices. However, their choices shouldn't impact my choices. In some instances, women I've dated had no problem with me getting to know their friends, families and even ex-husbands, but they didn't want to spend time with my friends, family or former spouse in situation such as a family wedding or similar. So, I went alone. My choice.
Maybe you're a grand parent or a parent. And, okay, I'm not. Would I feel any differently if I were? Well, to be frank and honest, NO! I wouldn't feel different. Once again, as a grandparent, you (and I) have raised a family. We've sacrificed a significant part of our lives. Now, the way the system works is that if our offspring choose (again, parenthood is a choice) to have and raise a family, that is their choice and shouldn't deter me from enjoying the natural freedom we are all born with. I am certainly not saying that grandparents shouldn't spend time or want to spend time with their grandchildren. I'm simply saying that, again, how much time and when you want to spend that time should be YOUR choice and not controlled by your offspring or the grandchildren.
We are too busy because we allow others to impose their needs, desires and will on us. I've even seen offspring use grandchildren as pawns in a game of extortion. If you don't fulfill our needs and requirements, we won't allow you to see your grandchildren. That's criminal and exploitation at its worst. I've even seen offspring exploit their parents for the inheritance long before the parents pass away.
Exploitation, Excuses or Choices
There are many things that we can use as excuses for being too busy, but everyone of them is of our own choosing. So, let's think about this realistically. I'm speaking to young people beginning in their late teens, 20's and up and those from my age bracket and beyond. If you don't feel free and you're too busy, whose responsible for that? Correct! You are. You made the choices. If you want to live freer and gain the most personal fulfillment from the "performance of your lifetime," who can make that happen? Correct, again! YOU can.
The world or our society or your town or your neighborhood or your family is not going to crumble around you because you choose to be freer and enjoy this limited engagement of this play called "My Life." Sure, some may be inconvenienced, but that's really and truly NOT your problem. They are responsible for their own lives and the choices they've made. To be sure, there will be a lot of people, especially family and friends, who will do their best to lay guilt trips on you. Once again, if you accept those guilt trips, that's your choice. But, you are not responsible for their lives, challenges, schedule conflicts, responsibilities, obligations, freedom or happiness. Those are theirs to bear based on choices they made. They are performing in their own limited engagement of "Their Lives."
Just Say NO!
Learn the very difficult act of saying "NO!" when someone, anyone, regardless of their relationship to you, requests, expects or demands something of you that is not your responsibility whether it's at work, in the community, family or whatever. You'll see that, magically, whatever it is, will still get accomplished if it's that important . . . without you.
Take that exciting cruise or tour that is a once in a lifetime opportunity over the holidays. Learn to use Skype and share the holiday through the magic of the Internet with the kids and grandkids from wherever you may be. Go enjoy Disney World and Epcot center (you're still a kid no matter what your age) on your schedule. Watch those sunrises and sunsets. Read those books you've been putting off for months or years. Go see those movies that catch your attention or just have your own James Bond (or any other) movie marathon at home with the phone turned off. Learn the lost art of doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING . . . because you can.
And, whatever you do, DON'T buy into guilt - read or reread Step 8 on Relationships and Step 9 on Amends (and guilt).
There is never a good reason to be "too busy" to enjoy the limited engagement of "My Life," the performance of YOUR lifetime.