I tried to skip a vacation but my friend wouldn’t let me

A gorgeous lake and a partly cloudy sky

For the first time since starting my business in 2020, I’m busy.

It’s something I never want to be. Many Americans use the word “busy” as a fake complaint. They’ll groan about it while flaunting it like a badge of honor. How am I? Good! Busy. Super busy.

But to me, busy just means a person isn’t in control of their time. The number of tasks outweighs the available hours for those tasks. It implies a feeling of rushing from one thing to another.

So when people tell me something like, “You must be so busy,” I correct them.

“No,” I reply. “Just productive.”

This lands well with some people. With others, I sound like a douche.

Anyway, this month has been different. I have genuinely been busy and it’s been a shock to my nervous system. It’s the fullest my plate has been all year.

Coaching. Restructuring my community’s website. Chess tutoring. Jiujitsu class. My new podcast. Writing my book and these blogs.

You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want. And this month, I’ve felt the quality of my attention and production slip. My bandwidth is being allocated to too many different things.

To add fire to flame, this is the most vacation I’ve taken in a single month.

I know that’s a terrible thing to complain about. But deadlines can make it difficult to be 100% present when you’re trying to get away. There’s guilt involved. The story that replays says, “I could and should be getting work done right now.”

Two weeks ago, I spent the weekend at my family’s lake house. Yesterday, I got back from a four-day stay in West Virginia with my mom and sister. This weekend is a trip to Deep Creek Lake with close friends.

It was the last night in West Virginia. Flooded with anxiety about getting everything done, I texted the group and pulled out of Deep Creek.

I woke up to a few responses saying they totally understood and they hoped to see me soon. That felt nice.

Then my buddy called me.

“What’s up man,” I asked.

“Yo dude,” he started. “Saw you weren’t coming to the lake this weekend. What’s going on?”

I shared about my workload and my fear of not being fun. He listened respectfully, told me he understood, then challenged me.

“I totally know how stressful deadlines can be, man,” he offered. “But I think now’s a great time to lean on your people. We got your back. And I think there are steps we can take to make this happen.”

He came up with a few ideas. They involved carving out specific times for me to tinker on my laptop while they took care of other things. He told me I could work in their van while they got the boat ready and could come pick me up.

“Fine dude,” I chuckled. “You win.”

I decided to go. But it had way less to do with his proposed solutions and more to do with the fact that he called me in the first place to get me to come. It felt like a slap in the face.

It said, Hey dummy, don’t skip out on memories with your friends. The workload will eventually end, but you won’t be able to get those memories back if you miss out on them.

His language was much lighter and kinder than that, but it had the same effect.

I’m lucky to have friends who push me to live a better life. It’s not something everyone has access to.

20 years from now, we’ll tell stories about drinking beer on a boat. Because no one ever tells a story that starts, “Dude! This one weekend, I stayed home and got a bunch of work done…”

Put first things first.