Busy, the New Balance

“Busy is good because it shows you’re alive” -Alison G. Bailey

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that stillness is not in my vocabulary.  I have always wanted to be that person who unplugs from work and goes on vacation and is perfectly content with laying on the beach with a book or napping in a hammock, but my inner busy bee gets the best of me each and every time.  We all choose to unwind and detach from the craziness of work in many ways, mine tends to consist of home projects, road trips and generally trying new things.  Could it be that staying busy and putting yourself out there is the key to rebalancing?

Stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying new things is not a new concept to any of us, but after learning to listen to my inner go-getter and being inspired by similar explorers of life’s opportunities, such as my father who learned to play the bagpipes at 51, I was able to confirm the rumors were true–being busy makes you feel alive and reprograms the workaholic’s priority list.

Progress over the last year has looked a little something like this:

  • Stand-up paddle boarding
  • Mastering the art of last minute trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Tennis
  • Investing in a personal trainer
  • Painting
  • …starting a blog

I remember the first time I acknowledged the positive impact these new activities had on a drive home from cooking class at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts last fall–for the first time in at least 2 years I felt alive–that jump up and down, nothing can stop me, the sky’s the limit kind of feeling that suddenly engulfed my dull workaholic persona.  This feeling was indescribable and I knew I had to have more–the most shocking part: I was actually still living and moving at my same workaholic pace of 100 mph–the difference was increased energy, carving out more time for myself and a thirst for more extracurricular activities. 

These new experiences had inspired me on new levels that fostered greater self confidence and a more optimistic view on finding and achieving balance.  It was about becoming the producer in life and leaving behind the reactor and the feeling of being a hostage to my career. And while it may have taken 30 years, I finally found the real April and started listening to what makes her tick, what makes her skittish, and what brings her joy.  

Some of the more impactful lessons learned from listening:

  • Putting yourself out there is the only way to push the limits to achieve your full potential
  • New adventures warrant focus and focus demands you to exist in the present
  • Happiness is a trophy only you can design and achieve
  • Stillness has nothing to do with balance–embrace your life’s inner pace, even if it is a steady 100 mph
  • For fellow math geeks out there- new hobbies = new brain cells– doctors at the Mayo Clinic have proven that trying new things, such as learning a new instrument, playing a new sport or tackling the daily crossword puzzle can help protect against certain types of dementia, not to mention lower blood pressure and improve physical function

Balance for a workaholic isn’t defined as simply laying on the beach and relaxing, but discovering new hobbies, new experiences and new challenges outside of work that appeal to the individual who resides under that compulsive career overachiever.  The first step is putting yourself out there…

“Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it.” – Chinese proverb



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