My dad feels the same way. Is the need to be busy inherited?


Pam Drzewiecki


Realizing that releasing the “busy” is starting to change my life and how I think.

Wow…where do I start with this topic?

This is a subject that has been looming over me since I was a kid. Something that no matter what I have tried in the past, would never go away. Something that truly controls how I feel and how I act. Something that is ingrained in my personality style. 

For as long as I can remember, I have been a creature of being busy. 

I look back on when this all started and it was when I was a young teenager. At 13 I took a babysitting job that kept me busy every Saturday (all day) watching two children. These two children were my 2nd-grade teacher’s kids. I started working early in the morning, because not only was she a teacher, she and her husband owned a pizza restaurant. They would spend the day there and then come home and change to go out for date night. I was taught responsibility was the foundation of being a good person. 

I was taught at a young age that working hard was what made you successful. My dad was a laborer and he left for work at 5 or 6 am every day. He worked his tail off at work and then came home and worked on projects.  Every week there were the same chores…Saturday’s for mowing the lawn, building something, or doing home improvements. There was a process to everything he did. Very structured. Now I am not saying this is bad at all. It made me a respectful, dedicated adult – but there was no basis on how to live in balance. Side note, my husband Michael knows how to live in balance. He knows when it is time to stop working on a project so we can have family time. This was and still is truly amazing to me. I recognize it is It is such a great way to live, but not always easy for me to do! 

My mom wasn’t as structured but she did run her own business. She ran it for 37 years with a multi-level marketing company. She worked nights and weekends so that she was home for us after school. Even being a school teacher by education, after she had me she dedicated herself to mom-hood. We spent Friday nights bubbling in her orders (remember those old computer sheets that you had to fill in the dots – like a standardized test – that was how placing her order was done) or Saturday morning checking stock and bagging orders. It is what needed to be done. Again, not much of a balance.

The foundation of my life was that working hard is what you did. What was the message? They provided for us and gave us a good life. We were not wealthy by any means, but we lived in a nice town, in a small house, and had what we needed. Faith, family, and friends. 

But they worked really hard to have what they had, which really wasn’t a lot.  My brother and sister are extremes like myself with being “busy”. My sister is in a successful career as a guidance counselor. She went back to school in her early 40’s to get her master’s degree in this field. She originally was in the hotel and restaurant management field and now still has two other jobs in that field (bartending and waitressing high-end events). My brother is a successful mortgage broker and has side businesses and other business ventures. He even had other businesses when he was in the Service. 

As I continued to grow up, I always had two jobs. Busyness = hard worker = not being lazy. So busy was our norm. 

When is it all enough? 

Even when I started my corporate job, I had a second job taking care of an elderly woman after work or cleaned schools. I was always involved in volunteer opportunities too. Life was definitely built on circumstances and drama then; that is why I kept moving. If I kept moving, I didn’t have to totally admit what was happening around me.

Fast forward to now when I am in my mid 50’s. I own my own business and have my own give-back associated with it. I volunteer in a development community for a charity. I am involved with my church and the youth ministry. 

I share this story with you because recently I started learning how to find pockets of time for myself. To unwind. To think. To sleep in a little bit. To soak in my tub. To worship more. To say “yes” to what I want to say “yes” to and say “no” where necessary. This is truly foreign soil for me. With this ability, comes guilt and shame. 

The other day I was crying because of the wave of grief I was feeling. Yes, guilt and shame can cause grief. 

Why guilt and shame? Because if I have “free” time, what am I not doing? Are people going to say, WOW look at you, it must be nice to take time to do this or that? 

I can’t wear the badge of honor of being busy anymore. It is more tiring to keep up the pace than learning how to shift to enjoy the rest and recharge moments.  

I was working with my dad the other day on a project outside and was sharing with him how business is really good. How I am creating this amazing Powerful Purpose Community and my clients are reaching such strides. I am able to have more free time despite all of the great things I am working on. I was having a hard time with that. He asked me why and I said because I feel lazy! 

You know what he said…he feels the same way! That made me sad and cried a little bit because when I am his age I want to own my “free” time and ENJOY every bit of it. What is his story for feeling that way? What message am I sending to my kids? 

There are so many stories I wanted to share that are bubbling up for me around this topic, but that can be for another time. What bubbles up for you when you think about your “busyness”?

This awareness is the start of my recovery as a “busyness addict”.

As a productivity and leadership coach, it is hard to admit when something isn’t showing up perfect in my life or business. But I truly feel we are all a work in progress. Sharing where I have been, where I am, and how I am moving forward to live this amazing life with purpose and not getting caught up in the circumstances is what I believe will truly help others. 

When I am working with women they start to see the same thing, and it helps them change their view of what life can really be. They ultimately end up giving themselves permission to release the busyness badge of honor and embrace their quality time instead.

I invite you to think about “are you caught up in wearing the badge of honor of busyness?”

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