Here in the U.S. we celebrate a national holiday called Labor Day. It was originally started to pay tribute to the efforts of all the workers in the labor movement which catapulted the U.S. in the production of goods.

It’s also intended to be a national day off. A long weekend. In the beginning that made perfect sense because workers could easily leave the mill, mine or factory and go home. There was a clear separation of work and home.

In today’s modern world, I’ve noticed a shift in how Labor Day is approached. Yes, some people still use it fully as a break from work.

But more and more – as our country pushes the do more, have more, be more – people are using Labor Day Weekend as a time to do MORE work.

Whether that’s catching up on their inbox because they have access to work 24/7 via their smart phone.

Or doing a big yard work or house project because they have a full 3 days to get it done.

The push to get the most out of this time spreads far and wide. Even as we tried to count it as vacation, we’d still tack on an extra day and go adventuring so hard that we’d be exhausted come Tuesday or Wednesday when we’d start back up again.

True rest is a foreign concept.

Taking completely unplugged time off seems reserved for those on the brink of a breakdown or on the verge of getting sick.

What was once a holiday dedicated to taking a true break from work has now become an invitation to sneak in more work than before.

Experiencing this holiday again after having taught Break Free From Busy Bootcamp for over a year has shown me that millennials and modern society are struggling to take a break.

We’re still fighting for busy. 

In my Q&A’s during Bootcamp I can hear the resistance to dropping the story of busyness.

I’ll fall behind. 

How will I get it all done. 

I’m trying to accomplish my goals. I NEED to keep going.

Not only do most millennials I encounter (and really anyone under 70) resist slowing down, but they actually fight to keep their busyness.

And here are 3 reasons why.

Busy makes us feel good. 

It feels good to put things on your to-do list even if it sucks when it comes time to do them. It feels good to be moving, doing, attempting. Other people praise busyness with common sayings like “If you want something done, ask the busiest person you know.”

When you’re busy it feels like you’re making progress. It feels like you’re working hard and in our society how much you do directly equates to how much you’re worth.

You could be doing all the wrong things, but it feels good because you’re active.

But here’s the thing – doing does NOT equate to achieving your goals or feeling happy with your life. Often times being busy is masking the fact that you’re in the wrong line-of-work, you’re avoiding tasks that would truly move you forward and you’re just not happy with where you are.

Keeping busy can actually keep you stuck. But it feels so good to be taking action because the alternative is too scary. Which brings us to the next reason…

Busy keeps us safe. 

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard the concept that your brain avoids fear because it can’t differentiate between the survival instinct of running from a tiger or the fear of changing jobs. They’re the same to your brain. If your status quo is busyness, changing that will send a fear signal to your brain.

Going against what you’ve always done says DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! to your brain, which results in you either not taking action to combat your busyness or starting to take action, but then jumping right back into being over scheduled and overwhelmed.

When we stay busy we don’t have to pursue our dreams, have those tough conversations, go after the job we really want or take that once in a life time trip because “we don’t have time.”

Even though most people claim they want less stress, less overwhelm and to take a breather from their busy life, staying on the busy track is actually the safest option. There’s nothing scary about doing what everyone else is doing. On to reason number 3.

Busy is the norm. 

A high stress level, having WAY too many things on your schedule and feeling like regular life is just a bit overwhelming is completely normal. Or I should say it has become completely normal. If you’re surrounded by people who are sleep deprived, ordering takeout all the time and give a sarcastic chuckle when you mention slowing down, it’s no wonder you haven’t attempted it yet.

Busy has been normalized to the point that pursuing a different option is considered weird, just for people who sell all their stuff and travel the world or just straight up not possible.

If you’re surrounded by busy (and yes, the media counts) not only do you have an imagination deficit of what’s possible, but you’re more likely to stay in that busy trap because it’s socially acceptable.

You don’t know what is available to you on the other side of busy because no one in your life has modeled the way. And because no one in your life has modeled the way, you have to accept that you’d be a pioneer amongst your friends and family in this path towards unbusy.

All of these reasons are scary, common and real. I’m not diminishing the very real fact that doing this takes courage.

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But I totally believe in you. When I see my students, one after another, take control of their time and face their busyness it strengthens my confidence that it’s possible for you too.

That’s why I continue to teach Break Free From Busy Bootcamp every month. I know that even though it’s scary, it’s very possible. I believe that our world needs more young people to be free from the treadmill of busy, but I also know that you deserve to live a life that isn’t all about what you get done at the expense of everything that is important to you.

If you no longer want to spend your “free time” working, checking email, doing house projects or catching up on life, watch this video.

While it’s a process to undo years of conditioning and habits, you’ve already taken your first step towards unbusy. You read this post and you’re beginning to understand the deep rooted societal imprint that got you here in the first place.

It will take more than a blog post or a quick productivity trick to be free, but deciding right here and now that you’re going to stop fighting to stay busy is a great place to start.

The decision is yours.

Feeling overwhelmed? Busy? Behind?

You're probably distracted (hint - it shows up in more ways than just technology). Take a step towards unbusy with this free 7-day distraction detox.

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Hey, I'm Katie! I'm an author and daily life designer who teaches millennial women how to approach their daily lives in a way that is sustainable, effective and filled with ease. When I'm not hanging out with my dog Watson, traveling or chilling out with a rerun of Mad Men you can find me interacting with my Break Free From Busy Bootcamp students or sharing daily life strategies for the driven, but busy. Connect with me over on Facebook and Instagram.
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