I cannot tell you how many times I have had this exact conversation over the last few years. Nine times out of ten, I answer with a vague “busyness” followed up with, “and I don’t even know what we’ve been doing”, which is mostly true. One of the reasons I started this blog was to take back my 62 (free hours) and in doing so, I have had to evaluate exactly where these 62 hours have been going for the last few months, or even years. I don not have to look any further than my own calendar, which is filled with charity events, work obligations, family obligations, working out, grocery shopping, cooking, erranding and that’s just within the last few months.
The sad part is, I often hear the same “busyness” excuse just as much as I, myself, use it. It seems as if we all wear this “busyness” as a badge of honor, or as a status symbol. We associate being “busy” with being important or fulfilled. I know that at times I feel that way. When I first started at Hinshaw, I did not have much work to do and it took a good nine months before I was fully integrated into the firm. Those nine months were painful! I would hear all about the cool things my friends were doing and how busy they were and I felt lazy and unimportant in comparison. To compensate for my lack of fulfillment at work, I ended up filling my weekends and nights with extracurricular activities so that I could achieve that same busyness lifestyle and in reality all I was doing was wearing myself out. I should have been taking advantage of the slower pace at work to adjust to a new job and new city and to get to know my co-workers, instead I was too focused on being “busy” that I burned out. I quickly had to scale back my weekend trips out of town and force myself to relax a little bit.
I would bet that if we all just stopped for a second, we would realize that being “busy” isn’t bringing us joy or making us happy. I know this is certainly true for me. I am currently working my way through Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown to combat this exact problem. Essentialism is exactly what it sounds like; focusing on only those things that are essential to you and letting everything else go. By doing this, you are able to focus on those things that bring you joy and happiness and are essential to your well being and discard those things that get in the way of more meaningful activities. The important thing is that everyone’s view of what is essential is unique and it takes time and self reflection to figure it out.
I am not saying that everyone has to read a book or embark on a journey of being less busy, however, I am advocating that you evaluate your own “busyness” and if you find (like I have) that your life is filled with activities that do not bring you joy or happiness, 2017 is the perfect time for you to let it go, fill your life with those things that bring you joy, and see how your life is transformed.
And the next time someone asks you how you are, instead of automatically replying with “ugh…busy”, wouldn’t it be great if you had something meaningful to say? I encourage you to try it and let me know how it goes!