A busy person is not necessarily productive. If they're not aligned with their true purpose, focused on what's most important (but not necessarily urgent), what emerges is often stress, feelings of being overwhelmed, and more distraction. Have you ever gone through a busy day, only to fall into bed, exhausted, feeling like you didn't get anything significant done? Swirling around in that tornado of to-dos, you felt like you were accomplishing something, but you mistook the blur of busyness for authentic action.
As Benjamin Franklin said, "Never confuse motion with action." This is sometimes a lack of clear vision or planning, putting us at the whim of every squeaky wheel and fire that needs putting out and causing us to say yes to things that have little to do with our deeper purpose. But it's also a symptom of avoidance.
Most people, when faced with a list of tasks, will focus on the easiest thing first and work their way to the hardest—which they rarely arrive at. The false sense of satisfaction that comes from turning their to-dos into to-dones gives them an adrenaline high—and this can become addictive. But like all addictions, they numb our true feelings. And for the Task Addict, the deeper feelings are fear of failure and a sense of inadequacy. If they really take the bold action necessary to make progress, they'll have to face the unconscious belief that they're not good enough and their goals will never happen.
Better to stay busy and hold on to hope than reach for that impossible dream. This can go on for years, and the condition is difficult to diagnose. By all appearances, the person seems to be doing all the right things. But upon closer inspection, they're often not doing the one or two highest-impact things—the hard actions that would stretch them into the person who can make their dream a reality. They're walking around their vision rather than taking a stand for it.
When activating your emerging potential, it's sometimes about taking lots of little actions—but just as often it's about taking a few big ones. While sometimes you can grow incrementally, other times the only way to break free from the inertia of old patterns is to blast off like a rocket escaping earth's gravitational pull. If your vision is to be a professional writer, it might be committing to writing that book in 30 days instead of three months.
If your vision is to get in shape, it could be joining a marathon club with a rigorous structure instead of joining a gym that you try to fit into your busy schedule. If a significant relationship is suffering, it might look like having that hard conversation and letting things fall apart temporarily rather than scheduling another round of fun activities to distract you from the inevitable blowup or breakdown.
As you contemplate your big vision, look honestly at what you're doing and not doing, and ask if you're keeping up the illusion of trying so you have a good excuse for not risking. Then commit to letting at least one busy activity go—and taking one bold action.