If you are someone who is working on making more thoughtful choices in their everyday moments, but keeps neglecting the needs of the most important person in the room, welcome my friend! This post is for you.
If you missed the original post for this series you can read it here: How to Live More Intentionally this Year
Being involved in your community is a good thing!
As human beings it is essential to have regular social interactions. Ones where you feel like you are a vital part of the whole. The thing is when you are involved in a community and people see you have a good heart, they see that you have certain talents, and they want you to contribute. You are expected to do things for them or their organization, with all of your heart. Who can blame them? They want someone who is all in.
If you are not careful their needs begin to be more important than your own prior commitments. I wholeheartedly admit that I have found some of those experiences as rewarding, even personally gratifying, because it makes you feel good about what you are doing for the community. Being honest with myself; it was being busy for the sake of being busy. Sometimes it I found myself being busy supporting someone else, because it simply felt good to contribute in a seemingly meaningful way. Regardless if it was efforts I was paid for or given freely in the name of supporting the community, it was exhausting because it was partially but not 100% aligned to who I am or my fundamental values. The expectations and pressures continued to mount without reprieve or additional assistance because I was a check in the box for them. Being recognized for my contributions gave me accolades that encouraged me to stay in the game and seek out more of the same. Does that sound like anyone you know?
Are You Busy as a Bee?
In my youth I was easy inspired by the communal nature and mystery of the beehive. I remember speakers in church and in business settings using beautiful pictures to capture our imagination and spoke highly of honoring the honey bee that serves others. Yeah…Inspiring motivational speeches don’t hold a candle to the realities of the hard working bee. For the purpose of providing for the future generation, a bee will work itself to death. Its society is dependent on everyone in the hive accepting the process of the older generation “stepping down” to make room for a new and younger leadership.
Not even the queen is exempt from serving the hive’s needs. If the Queen fails to live up to her function she can be challenged or replaced. In this society, drone bee that manage to serve the hive of the function well, can end up draining the hive’s resources in the fall and often find themselves kicked out and starving to death when push comes to shove. Thanks, but no thanks. ‘Busy as a Bee’ is a metaphor that is over glorified and needs to die. (Speaking of which, did you know that being selected as Queen of the beehive means being given the opportunity to be more fertile than the average female bee at an early developmental stage? Worker bees are designed to be sexually undeveloped but can be tapped if an emergency arises. Read more about bees here; The Colony and its Organization)
The good news is while nature offers us guidance on how the natural order works and how efficient it is at solving complicated problems, its at times straight up savage.
Live More Intentionally by Making Room for YOU in the Community
Thankfully we are not bees. Which means if we want to honor our own humanity and still show up as a valuable member of society, we need to pay attention when our community asks too much of us and offers very little in return.
I love the inner workings of a clock! If you run too fast or too slow, you throw off the whole mechanism. Figure out what your function is in the clock and how you sync in with the rest of the parts. The beauty of the clock is that it isn’t the big gears that get all of the attention. Being a small vital part is equally essential part.
You know you are too busy when…your priorities are constantly being pushed to the side. Once in a while you need to rearrange your priorities because new information comes into play. However, if it is constantly happening what you are really doing is sending yourself and your community a message that you think everyone else’s issues and concerns are more important than yours.
You know you are too busy when…your never have time in your day or week to decompress. Constantly being on-the-go triggers your brain to be constantly stimulated. Without a regular decompression period it piles on and it starts show up in our everyday moments as being unable to focus and in over the top emotional responses.
You know you are too busy when…your activities outside of the home leaves you feeling exhausted and unable to handle other important things in your life. Unless you are running a highly focused campaign with firm dates, with pass or fail consequences, there is absolutely no reason to push yourself to exhaustion for a non-existent finish line.
Don’t get me wrong. It IS Okay to have highly focus periods for things like startups and new projects. But if the level of intensity never comes down to a sustainable flow, it is a HUGE red flag that poor decisions are being made at your expense.
Taking Action Today:
Think about what part you play in your community clock. When you think of this community, who is actually included? Does your group serve the community with a clear and concise message? Thinking about these things beyond a simple yes or no answer is a way for you to recognize and honor your boundaries while going a long way to reinforcing your part in a healthy community. The questions below will help you understand if you play a vital role or you are an extra piece. If you come to realize you are wearing too many hats and you value connection in your community, think about choosing a role where you help foster that one thing specifically.
Ask these Questions:
- Who is this activity actually important to?
- Why is this important to me?
- Who benefits the most from this arrangement?
- What happens if I slow down? What happens if I stop? Am I allowed to stop?
- Is this the best use of my time?
- Is there a better, more sustainable, way of experiencing or implementing the activity?
- Is this aligned with my value? Or does it drain me?
Thinking About Your Actions Tomorrow:
When you think about your purpose in the community, how does this match your own goals? Is the other person, leader or contributor, equally committed with their time and resources? Sometimes we find ourselves in these positions because we stepped up to help out. There was a need in the community, is that still a valid belief? As you understand more of what is being asked of you, consider setting a periodic time to reevaluate your commitments. Check in with yourself and ask, is this really what I want to do? Or this is what other people want me to do? Can this be done differently?
Keep in mind the other side of the story. It isn’t fair to organizers who do dedicate their time and energy to make an exciting experience for the community. Or at least that’s the common complaint I hear from time to time. Look. You don’t owe them anything. They make these events with a full understanding of their responsibilities and associated risks. They create a budget and they create an event based on what is sustainable. Whether or not they have a good or bad turn out is NOT your responsibility. People who use this to guilt trip others into participating are not being held accountable for their decisions. A well done event that serves the community’s needs-doesn’t need to coerce or pester others into participating. Unless you were a part of the planning committee or the original reason for the event taking place in the first place, you don’t have to feel guilty about not participating.
How to Really Make This Work:
What you do need to do is take a moment and decide which activities you want to focus on for a defined period of time. Clearly communicate if you are going to attend and put it on your primary calendar. Update your RSVP as soon as possible if something changes. Then be a person of your word and show up. On the other hand maybe you want to be more involved, but the timing isn’t right. A lot of good things can happen when people get together but forcing yourself to be the right piece for the wrong clock creates a lot more problems. Consider learning to wait for the right opportunity!
If you are working on being more mindful about putting your needs first and found these ideas helpful, take a moment and share this with your favorite busy bee.