Busyness. It can be such a loaded word, and it’s one that I am currently pondering. How did this word and what it stands for, came to be such a big part of my life?
I look back and realise that I wasn’t always ‘busy’. Once upon a time I had balance in my life. A career that I loved, I had time to exercise, prepare healthy food, read and research, enjoy my relationships, have fun and holidays, and life was good. The changes probably started for me when I set up my own business, Embracing Health in 2008. Meant intially to be a business where I ran a few detox retreats a year and did some light naturopathic consulting whilst I had a family, it didn’t quite turn out that way… The relationship I was in at the time was unfortunately not conducive to starting a family for many reasons, and to fill in my spare time around retreats, I was encouraged to build an online business alongside running my retreats.
Which was all quite exciting, and Embracing Health expanded to encompass naturopathy consultations, retreats, blogs, newsletters, saliva and stool testing services, a membership club, CDs and DVDs, public speaking, an online store, the organising and promotion of several overseas speakers, various websites and many other projects and ideas that have built the business into the huge success that it is today. But this has come at a cost. As with many small businesses, in the building stages the business cannot afford staff, yet alongside creating the business and products, comes a lot of background work that takes up a lot of time as well – website management, computer issues, emails, bookkeeping and accounting etc and I ended up working pretty much sixteen hours a day, seven days a week for a long, long time.
Because I am passionate about what I do and the information that I have to share, none of it was a chore, but it was definitely out of balance. And for someone with issues of fatigue who really cannot afford to work this way, it has impacted my health, and impacted my lifestyle, to a point where something has had to change. Two years ago I bought Rhianna Smith, Naturopath and Nutritionist on board to assist me, and also my Mum Trish, to do some of the administration work. My idea was to take some of the load off, so that I could work on my book, and once that was launched, hopefully be in a position to be able to afford to have full time staff and step away from the day to day running of the business, to focus on what I love – getting essential health information out to the people who need it the most.
It was a great vision and still stands. This year is the one where it has finally come into play to a larger extent, where I have handed the majority of my business over, and am mainly working on my book and my health, and am gradually getting that beautiful balance back.
One of the internal conflicts I’m having though, is around letting go of the busyness. In so many way in todays society we are rewarded for our ‘busyness’. How busy we are and our stressed we are is almost a badge of honour and like a competition about who has the most things to do and who is the most stressed about it. There is some weird type of validation involved, a distortion of a healthy work ethic where our value as a person depends on our job or career and how busy we are. And it can be confronting and almost like an insult for people to think that there might be another way. To be confonted with the idea that that their busyness may have its roots in a negative belief structure about what is important in life. I remember when I first started up the retreats and wasn’t crazy busy in between them, people would ask “what do you do between retreats if you only run six a year?” I would answer “not too much!” and people would be confused and taken aback. “But what else do you do? Do you have another job? Are you looking for one?” it was almost blasphemy to think that someone might only work part time and be happy with that. I like to think I don’t suffer from this delusion, but quite possibly I’ve taken this one on to a certain extent.
My identity as the founder and owner of Embracing Health has also come into question. If I am not doing EVERYTHING in my business and answering everyone personally, then am I really a part of it? Who am I without my business? Will people still want to be involved with Embracing Health if I am not as accessible and not involved in every aspect? There comes a time when a business either expands or stagnates, and for any business, expansion means letting go, of trusting that what you have built will be OK in the hands of others and not just yourself. For me, in this letting go has also come guilt. How can I ask someone to do ‘my work’ for me, when I could be doing it myself? (Even if this meant that I had to work seven days a week, sixteen hours a day – very unrealistic!). It’s been an unravelling of control, coming to an understanding that if I want to do everything myself, then I need to reduce the business back to a place that I can handle easily – and that doesn’t sit well with my drive and ambition and where my vision of the future is. So this is a huge learning curve. A new way of doing things, a new way of functioning day to day. I can’t say I have mastered it yet, but I am certainly exploring these concepts and the feelings that come up as I slowly move into a new phase of life.
Busyness can also be a way of keeping distracted from feeling your true feelings. When there is space and stillness, there is the opportunity for feelings that have been brushed aside, to rise so that they can be dealt with. If every time this happens, we deflect those feelings with busyness, then the opportunities to grow and develop emotionally may be lost. Part of letting go of the busyness is also being still enough to allow inspiration and insight to develop, to allow the space to create a vision of how you would truly like to live your life, allowing that vision to come from a place of serenity and peace, rather than letting life just happen as a reaction to a series of events.
Even in these very early days, that is what is starting to happen. I am getting flashes of the way I would like to live my life from hereon in, and I’m sure over the coming months these will coalesce into a very clear vision of life and the direction I would like to go and how I would like to live. I have been re-reading this week, ‘The 4-Hour Work Week’ by Timothy Ferriss, and it has reminded me of the potential we have to create a life inspired with purpose, meaning, fun and adventure. Living this way appeals to me on so many levels – being able to work from my laptop anywhere in the world; to develop incredible projects, but to not be tied to a 9 to 5 existence; to produce philanthropic endeavours; to live, to love, to learn. Yet colouring the excitement about the possibilites that life can hold, comes opposing feelings of guilt, of unworthiness. And these are the feelings that need to be explored, and the negative beliefs that are driving them, exposed and reframed. I know I can do more for others, from a place where there is no busyness, yet the habit of busyness is not an easy one to break.
But I have made the commitment to let busyness be a thing of the past – for myself, for my family, for my friends, for my health and for the great work that I know I am capable of donig without it.
Wish me luck, thanks for reading