• Joseph Barkley

You Are Busy. And You Like It.


Of course you’re busy. I’m busy. Everyone’s busy.

My dog’s busy. If aliens visited our planet they would believe that,

“How’re you doing?” “Busy.”

is either our customary greeting or some sad part of our mating rituals. But if you’re overwhelmed with tasks and demands on your time right now, I’d offer that it’s the way you like it—maybe even love it. Yes. Life is full of responsibilities and you don’t like all of them. Even though it’s your choice to take on those responsibilities; you have to manage some chores in school, work, your art, or parenting if you want to succeed in any fashion. However, I think there could be another deep motivation that keeps you in a cycle of crazed activity. I think you get something out of normalizing your frenetic pace and you don’t want to give it up. I recently survived 4 days of Awaken hosted by the Gap Community. Awaken is an intense, illuminating, and liberating diagnostic of the mind, emotions, and soul and I’d highly recommend it to you.

One of the exercises we went through invited us to examine what our state of overwhelm was giving us—not so much in terms of finishing projects or hitting deadlines—but more in terms of something more primal. More precious (in my best Gollum impression). In other words, it’s very likely your busyness is a fortress you’ve built around a life you don’t want to give up.

Your busyness is a fortress you’ve built around a life you don’t want to give up.

To stimulate your thinking (and because transparency is important to me), let me share with you all of what my hurry was protecting. What’s the payoff for Joseph King Barkley’s overwhelm?

  • If I stay busy, I get to control what I say “no” to while not having to be honest about why I don’t want to do it.

  • If I stay busy, I have a ready excuse to be cranky and dispassionate.

  • If I stay busy, I can skip out on commitments and claim I “double booked” or “didn’t understand the scope”.

  • If I stay busy, I can deliver 90%.

  • If I stay busy, I can abdicate responsibility for what I should own.

  • If I stay busy, I can be needy.

  • If I stay busy, I can avoid reflection. I don’t have to pay attention to how I’m really doing under the surface.

  • If I stay busy, I can look accomplished and heroic and I like looking good.

  • If I stay busy, I have permission to “escape” into vices or zoning out because I “owe it to myself”.

  • If I stay busy, I reduce expectations that I’ll deliver or take on new responsibilities.

  • If I stay busy, I can remain blind to my actual power. I won’t have to take risks and accept the real challenge that unlocks possibility for me.

  • If I stay busy, I can keep doing things I’m used to and I like being comfortable.


NOTE: There is likely more for me to add to this list. I return to this exercise once a month. I highly encourage you to pause and reflect on the reasons you jam so much into your day. You will certainly see some necessity to your pace—especially if you're up to anything important. But I’m fairly certain you’ll uncover some subtle and insidious reasons you fill all your available space. Not only will this empower you to let go of exhausting habits, it can radically expand the future you’re creating. Comment Below: What are some of the reasons you stay so busy?

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