One spring morning I was driving the little person to daycare. She was buckled securely in her front-facing car seat. The music wasn’t on. She didn’t have any toys. We weren’t talking about anything. And, then, I heard her giggling to herself.
Curious about what I had missed, I asked her, “What’s going on back there?”
While still giggling, she responded in the most sincere two-year-old voice, “I’m just trying to be happy.”
“Well, dang!” I said and started giggling too.
My child had started laughing because she wanted to be happy. Her laughter was propelling her in the direction of the emotion she wanted to experience in that moment. This moment reminds me of one of my favorite passages from Breaking Busy: “Direction – not intention, hopes, dreams, prayers, beliefs, or education – determines destination. . . . [E]very single decision we make takes us down the road closer to the destination that is our future.”
How many times have I prayed for a change but continued to go through the same motions?
How many times have I believed that I could accomplish something but took no action as though the thought had never crossed my mind?
How often have I dreamed big dreams but settled for my current reality?
The answers to these questions are among the many reasons that this passage spoke to me. I can pray, believe, dream all day and all night, but when I don’t move, chances are good that when I open my eyes I’m still in the same place as I was when I closed them.
For me, one struggle has been slowing down enough to determine the right direction. I’ve had to realize that being busy doesn’t mean that I’m moving in the right direction, fulfilling my purpose, or even being productive. As a lawyer, I can tell you about how I spend my day in point one (0.1) increments. Those of you who bill time know what I’m talking about. You’re also probably well acquainted with the “busy bragging phenomenon” Alli talks about in the book. You ask someone how they’re doing and they feel compelled to tell you about how busy they are, every case they are working on, every call they’ve participated in that day, and their ever-growing to-do list. It’s a miracle they find time to breathe. Busyness, for them, is a status symbol. And, if I’m being honest, I must confess that I’ve caught myself participating in the phenomenon – especially when I first started practicing. When I started billing time, I felt like time became more precious, because a value, an actual dollar amount, was placed on the time that I spent on work-related tasks. By being busy and talking about how busy I was, I was, in essence, letting people know how valuable I was. And, who doesn’t want to be valuable?!
Breaking Busy helped me to realize that “fruitful is way more effective than busy” and to appreciate the value of taking time to determine the right direction. Practically speaking, for me, breaking busy hasn’t meant that long days disappeared from my schedule. It hasn’t meant that I’m never tired or that I’m always doing exactly what I want to do. What it has meant is that in addition to prioritizing my work, I make time for the activities and the people that make me happy. I have daily quiet time. Sometimes (but not every day) I go to lunch with friends, refinish old furniture, put puzzles together, read books, use my new camera and blog. And, I often reevaluate how I spend my time. I ask myself: Am I being efficient? Am I spending enough time on the things that matter and with the people who matter most? Am I using my time in a way that glorifies God? When the answers to those questions are “no,” I know I need to move in a different direction (because my beliefs, hopes and dreams aren’t going to get me to “yes”).
I certainly don’t have it all figured out which is why I’m so grateful for the lessons in this book – especially the one reiterated by my little one – our direction determines our destination.