Four Ways to Break the “Busy” Cycle

Question for you… On a scale of 1-10, how busy would you say you are?

With so many conveniences to make our lives “easier” it seems more and more I hear exhausted people talk about how busy they are and how they don’t know if they can manage it all.

When I talk with parents, sometimes I ask, “what do you do for fun?” The eyes go blank. There is a long silence. The clients almost seem stunned. I often hear them say they have no idea what they do for fun because they can’t remember the last time they had time to do that.

Author Edward Hallowell asserts “we don’t know how to not be busy.” Interesting.

I have a bold claim: you do not have to be so busy. Sure, there will always be seasons when circumstances require a hectic pace. But, if this is the constant state of your life, if you can’t remember when you weren’t running ragged, then you might want to do some soul searching. Often the busy schedules that make us crazy result from our own choices.

Let’s take a look at some actions you can take to make progress and bring some much-needed space back into your daily life!

1. Check your thinking.

Do you feel you have to be busy to be important? Would you be embarrassed to tell someone you read a book, took a walk with your partner, and actually took a nap over the weekend? In modern culture, we’ve made it a bit of a status symbol to busy. Hmmmm…

Does that create what you want?

2. Get clear on what matters to you.

We all have things that are at the core of who we were made to be, better known as our “values.” Deep relationships, achievement, family, adventure, freedom, generosity, etc., are examples of such values. If creating space in life is important to you, much benefit comes when you get clear on your priorities. The ironic thing is that most people are running so fast, they don’t take the time to even consider what they really want in life. No wonder the stress level intensifies when the schedule reacts to the many opportunities and choices that bombard every day. Create space, get clear on your values, and move forward in the strength that comes from that clarity!

3. Learn to say “no.”

I can almost see your face contorting. Saying “no” often seems worse than nails on a chalkboard. We fear what people will think. We feel guilty. We think our child will never make it in the world unless they participate in all of these “opportunities.” How will they ever excel if they don’t get started now?

Let me encourage you to reread #2. Get clear on what matters to you.

Once your values are clarified, the most powerful step toward breaking the busy cycle is saying no to commitments that don’t line up. One example of how we apply this in our family is that our children only participate in one activity at a time. Yes, we want to develop their skills, but we also highly value time together as a family. We are confident that their talents can develop in ways other than organized activities full of time commitments that bog down all of the space in our life. This is just one example of how we apply our values in our home. There are certainly many other, and different, ways this principle plays out.

I love seeing the relief in those I work with when they decline something. They are often amazed at how easy it is. The world keeps spinning. The weight from their shoulders lifts. They experience a deeper peace. Life expands.

4. Say yes to what matters most.

This is the FUN part. Imagine what life will feel like when you fill your days with the things that are of greatest importance to you and your family! When you clarify values and say no to things that don’t line up, you can begin to say yes to things you cherish with confidence! Great joy and peace come to those who align their lives with the things that truly matter. Example? Does it matter that you are a life-giving, joy-filled person in this world? Then making time to do something fun for yourself might actually make it into your schedule. And when you’ve said “no” to some other things, the space will actually be there.

Joseph (Son of Jacob) and the Business Cycle

Business cycles are a part of every capitalistic economy. In fact, there is reference to a business cycle in the bible, as explained by Joseph, the son of Jacob. Joseph had the ability to interpret dreams into real life occurring prophesies. On one instance, Joseph interpreted the dream of the Pharaoh of Egypt. The Pharaoh “dreamt of seven lean cows which rose out of the river and devoured seven fat cows; and, of seven withered ears of grain which devoured seven fat ears.” Joseph interpreted that the dream meant there would be seven years of bad economic times (famines). In these hard times, the Egyptian and surrounding kingdoms would be in an economic slump. However, Joseph interpreted that after the seven years of hard time, seven years of prosperity (economic expansion) would arrive to all of the known lands. Both the good and bad economic times as described by Joseph show a pattern, and it is not a stretch to say that Joseph is actually describing a business cycle. Business cycles, as characterized by Joseph, show that there will be periods of economic gains and periods of economic sufferings.

Now to more recent times, when my mom was born in the 1930s the US economy was not doing very well. In fact, the economy was in a depression. Unemployment was high and the average family income was reduced by 40 percent. Moreover, when I was born in the 1970s, thankfully, the economy was not as bad as it was in my mom’s day. However, the decade of the 1970s one was of the worst economic decades in the history of America. As a matter of fact, inflation increased by 6 percent a year in the 1970s. This period of our economic past is known as the stagflation period because unemployment and inflation increased yearly. As of today, the American economy is better than it was in the 1930s or 1970s, but the economy is not doing as well as it has in good economic times. For instance, currently, personal disposable income has decreased. Yes, GDP has grown by 1.3 percent for the second quarter of 2011 but the current unemployment rate is 9.1 percent. These numbers are not great, but they at least show that economic growth is occurring.

As for recessions in general, the last recession in America began in December of 2007 and ended June of 2009. American recessions have a historically lasted from about six months to a few years, except for the Great Depression which lasted a total of 43 months. Recessions are countered by economic expansions, which typically last longer than recessions. To make a point, America throughout its history has been in more economic expansions than in recessions, with the longest expansionary period lasting for 120 consecutive months.

Business Cycles, Potential Business Profits, and Economic Comebacks

As the US recession comes to an end we will see expansion again, and as our middle class feels more comfortable spending money, they will. As the American consumer spends more money they will import more products and services from abroad. They will also buy more oil from the Middle East, and items from China. This means that the rest of the economies of the world will start hiking back up again. When the US economy is going strong at our GDP is over $17 trillion a year.

The entire world GDP is about $52 trillion a year, but it is almost off 10% due to the global economic crisis. The loss of $10 trillion in trade and GDP is causing nations around the world into near economic collapse. We are lucky to live in the United States and see that we have bottomed out on the recession and that our business cycle is going to be hiking back upwards. Currently, unemployment is still increasing and on the rise, but corporate profits are up and the stock market is starting to move skyward again.

As these corporations make more money they will have no choice but to expand their businesses to have the supply needed to service the demand. This is when everyone goes back to work. Economic comebacks are inevitable, business cycles are in constant flux, and potential business profits are on their way.

Anyone who counts the United States of America down and out is making a severe mistake and anyone that thinks that this recession will go on forever is absolutely and historically wrong. I hope you will please consider this and think about how you will expand your business as things quickly recover.