What did you respond the last time you asked someone how work was? I bet I know. It’s the same thing almost everyone says – “busy.” And how many personal commitments have you broken because you’re too busy?
The response is almost programmed. No need to even think. Sadly, it’s usually said proudly and worn as a badge of honor, as if I should be impressed. Well, I’m not. I used to work with someone whose personal brand could simply be the word “busy.” That’s bad but that’s how he was known. He was always late to calls, showing no respect for others. He never apologized, just told everyone how busy he was, as if they weren’t as well.
I must admit that “busy” had been my response for years. Even today if my calendar has gaps, sometimes I get “busy” and totally forget appointments – like I did last week. It was embarrassing and the last straw for me. I had to shift my mindset.
How did we find ourselves in a society where busy was an almost acceptable way to be? We’ve talked of being busy for so long that we’ve forgotten that being busy was never the goal. This thinking has led us to believe busy is good…no matter what we’re busy with. Being busy is not the way we should measure our worth.
I propose a revolt against being busy
Don’t get me wrong, I am not encouraging laziness or not getting things done. It’s quite the opposite. What I’m proposing is a revolt against saying you’re so busy. Busy is a state of mind – one that often causes stress, unhappiness and wasted energy.
I propose that we all take a moment to stop, recognize this unhealthy state and make the decision to no longer be “busy.” Enjoy the weight that gets lifted off your back simply by changing your focus. Perception is reality and none of us need “busy” to be that reality. Just by changing your thinking, I bet you’ll get even more done and have time left over to do the things you really care about.
So, I am done being busy. That is no longer my response to life. My calendar may be full but I won’t let it mean I’m busy. And that’s liberating.
How busy are you right now? Pride and satisfaction are not found in busy. Decide not to be. It doesn’t mean you don’t get things done. It just means you do them calmly and with intent. Life can never be too busy for the things that matter most to you. If you don’t have time for those, the busywork won’t matter anyway.
Give it a try. This week, take the “I’m not busy challenge”. All you have to do is commit to not responding to anyone with how busy you are (even if it feels like you are totally swamped). Don’t even adjust your schedule. Just change your language. It will be harder than you think. You’ll stumble on what words to use to replace the cultural norm. Try “exciting” or “full” or “productive” or maybe “all kinds of fun things”. Then begin to act like it.
Diane, The Midlife Woman’s Career Coach
Diane Howell Topkis is the author of “A to Z: 26 Keys to Unlock Career Change Success: for Midlife Women (Career Clarity Book 1),” the first in her Career Clarity series. Diane works with midlife women to gain the clarity and confidence to reinvent or re-energize their career into meaningful work for their next chapter. Please visit www.YourNextChapterNOW.com to receive your free workbook “Find Your Passion.”