“Personal experience tells me that never emptying our time is like never emptying our garbage cans, our bladders, or our digestive tracts.
Do those images disgust you? Good. I want them to. The archetype of the virtuously over-busy person is so ingrained in our social mindset that it takes strong language to knock it loose.” ~ Martha Beck
Do you ever wake up feeling stressed just thinking about your day? Phone calls, emails, errands, and appointments. These days it doesn’t matter how early you wake up, the fact is you will already be behind schedule. Because time in our culture is moving so fast. It’s like a race to get to the end of the day so you can look back, and say “Look at all those things that I did. Now that was a busy day.”
Staying busy, but not productive, is the curse of our times. As the actress Lily Tomlin so eloquently put it, “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”
Here are some typical phrases that you may hear today:
“I am so tired, I can’t remember the last time I got a good night’s sleep !”
“I’m drowning over here!”
“Oh my God, I’m crazy-busy!”
Somehow, these expressions are intended to demonstrate cultural value and importance. They are uttered out of habit, for attention, or worse, because someone is truly spiraling out of control. Take a good hard look at what these words are really expressing: lack of control, stress, and in the extreme, death! Wow… Is this what you really mean? Is this the language you want to be saying to yourself and sharing with others?
I am a person that chooses to live a full life, in the sense that I enjoy running a thriving business and the work that it entails, pursue personal passions and hobbies, love to travel, and spend time with friends, family and colleagues. However, I feel that some major things have shifted, starting with the loss of my beloved mother in 2010, and then continuing since I relocated from NY to Northern California in July 2012. Although I’m one who enjoys having a full plate, I’m learning more and more to be at peace with the open space that not being “crazy-busy” provides. It’s not always easy, trust me. But I am choosing not to win the “crazy-busy” contest.
I was speaking with a friend a few months ago. At one point, my friend commented “Wow, you’re so busy. How are you doing it all?” My response? “I don’t really like to say that I am ‘busy’ anymore. ‘Busy’ is so negative. Now, I like to think of it, and describe it, as living a full life on purpose.”
This conversation led me to think about how things have shifted for me over the last couple of years — especially when it comes to the word “busy.” You see, when I deliver my keynote to audiences on life-work integration, I talk a lot about this concept of how crazy-busy has become a badge of honor in our society. And how the only way to stop it is to take notice, change our la nguage, and change our behavior. So, I decided to start with me.
This has been a full year; for me personally, for my husband who is in the midst of a demanding veterinary residency in internal medicine, and for my business. I’ve traveled quite a bit for speaking engagements throughout the U.S., immersed myself in the launch of my new online learning platform LMG University, coached and consulted with clients near and far, enjoyed lots of bicycle riding in my new Northern California area, got back on stage to perform in an amazing production of Les Miserables, and enjoyed meeting new friends and colleagues in the area. Some might call this “busy.” I call it intentionally engaged and living a joyfully full life — on purpose.
“Busy” is stressful (even the energy of the word itself!). It has this powerful ability to take over one’s focus. People often claim that the main thing stopping them from fully realizing and achieving their dreams is that they ar e too “busy.” But busy is a conscious choice. “Busy” and “I have no time” (yes you do or you wouldn’t be alive… but I digress!) are excuses that are, sadly, here to stay. We have to get better at calling ourselves out on this. We have to prioritize, own our choices, watch our language, and value our precious time. We have to be intentional and purposeful.
I am being totally honest when I say that “busy” still creeps in for me sometimes (that little bugger!). But in those moments, I catch myself and quickly change my language and try to change my mindset. I try to kick busy to the curb and replace it with conscious living, which may still mean a full life, but not one that feels negative or will win me any badge of honor for the “crazy busy” contest. That’s one contest that I am purposefully hoping to lose!