My Hamster Wheel Life
Exert from “The Deadliness of Busyness”
Have you heard the saying “Jack of all trades but a master of none”? That was my lifestyle for entirely too long. For a while, I thought that “Jack” was my middle name ha-ha. I was involved in a variety of projects simultaneously and homeschooling my kiddos. I did not know how to ask for help and most of the time I thought I maintained it all under control so why even ask for help.
Operating in SURVIVAL MODE with-in, both my family and business life, was becoming a typical approach to life. With Operation Survival Mode well on the way, I took on a variety of various projects that came my direction, all in hopes it would achieve the stability I greatly desired. By just focusing only on the perceived benefits that could be gained, I completely overlooked what they would cost me.
I needed to live in the reality that we’re not promised tomorrow. I was living as if God had promised me the next fifty plus years.
I was the jack of all trades but a master of none.
Nothing received my adequate attention because I was working on several projects on the same day and had to color code my calendar to keep track of where I was and where I was going. Just like a house of cards, everything came crashing down. This pattern occurred several times for things to crumble before I began to slow down.
My dear friend Jeannette would tell me “Shannon, all these perceived little projects you are involved in play a big part in your overall concentration level because your brain is unable to get a chance to rest.” How true those words of wisdom would become evident?
I began 2017 with a bang by being a freelancer, hosting my new radio show, establishing a multi-level marketing team, and homeschooling. I’m sure there are many more activities that I’m leaving out, but it is a blur. All those things individually were great but together they were a recipe for disaster. The calendar on the cover was my actual schedule from March 2017 and only 80% of my activity is showing up on the picture.
In April of 2017, I suffered the first of what would become a series of chest pain events to where I was rushed to the hospital three times in 4-weeks. When you are thinking you’re going to die from a heart attack right in front of your children and husband that begins to wake you up. I want to say those events were successful in waking me up and slowing me down, but it didn’t stick. As soon as I felt stronger, I returned to my hamster wheel.
God was trying to capture my attention to slow down, declutter my schedule, and to prioritize my life. I wasn’t listening. I wanted so badly to contribute financially to my family that I couldn’t see anything else. I couldn’t see how I was hurting them by not taking care of myself.
It was not until God called me to the 12-week sabbatical that I was able to see the error of my ways and how I was not serving my family or Him.
Since that time, I have been on this quest to establish boundaries, priorities, providing a quality ‘yes’ versus an exhausted, apprehensive, people-pleasing ‘yes,’ and so much more. He has provided me with wisdom and I would like to share these lessons with you.
In January of 2018, God called me to a 12-week period of time off all social media, events, networking, anything related to business, etc. During that season I learned how to reclaim ground that was lost due to busyness. I remember when God began placing it on my heart my reaction was utter shock. When He impressed upon me that 12-weeks was going to be the amount of time I was like, “What the what…12-weeks…what will I do?”
When I slowed down, my emotions began to surface. I was faced with anxiety and regret that I had been carrying around like last season’s outfit. Since I wasn’t extremely busy and always on the run, I had to learn how to become connected with my emotions.
It was a tug of war of old habits vs. new habits as I began implementing balance. I would always go back and forth, especially when something I perceived as exciting arrived my way. I was spontaneous to say yes vs. counting the cost of my time and money. Later I would find out that our time on earth is way more valuable than any dollar amount.
I chose to participate in each activity because I thought it would help my family. However, I finally realized, that a busy lifestyle was not benefiting them at all. I was missing the beautiful moments because of investing more time with my computer screen than with my family.
“Oh, mom is in the zone again”, was an extremely familiar phrase the kids used when I was designing blogs, books, etc. they would ask me questions and if I was in “The Zone” I did not fully hear when they asked me questions. Recognizing the tendency to fall into “The Zone,” we relocated my office upstairs, and that prompted me to be present with them outside the office.
“Dreaming” was an area where I needed a balanced check of reality. I realized many times I was living “IN” the dream vs living “THE” dream. I would not take the time to come up with an effective action plan but instead just on a whim made decisions. What I discovered is a dream without a good dose of reality will always be just a dream.