Monday, August 16, 2010

Being "Busy" - A Status Symbol?


I imagine the title of this posting hit some of you like a ton of bricks - because you’re one of the guilty.

Let’s tell the truth, shall we? You get a rush from being “busy.” It makes you feels that you are playing an incredibly important role in the world. You are validated by having a calendar bursting with appointments, social functions, and family related activities. If your mobile phone stays quiet too long, you’ll jingle someone so that you can find more activities, events, and function to fill up your time.

Now do I know you so well? It’s because I am a recovering “busy-aholic.”

In my twenties, I loved zooming around until it literally made me sick. I traveled extensively for my job in those olden days and never gave myself any downtime. What free time I had, I packed it up with various board and community advisory committee meetings, club obligations, church events, et cetera, et nauseum.

I relished being “busy” no differently that the many status symbols I acquired over the years.

Then one day (while lying on the therapist couch actually) I had the epiphany that I was a busy-ness addict. The addiction was rooted in my own insecurities and a desire to prove that I was a worthwide person. As I dug deeper into the key drivers of my behavior, I realized years of being dismissed, overlooked, and disrespected in the two most important areas of my life (the workplace and my romantic relationship) had taken its toll. I was unhappy in both areas and I compensated for it by keeping “busy.” I believed if I stayed still and quiet too long the mask would crack, forcing me to deal with crumbed pieces of the lie I was living. Being “busy” was a sweet fear based diversion in which I sought solace.

It wasn’t long after this revelation that God removed both of those energy vampires from my life. With the stressful job and the drama king gone, it became easy to delicately remove myself from the scores of boards, committees, and stuff that kept me busy for busy-ness’ sake. I learned the art of staying no and sought more equity in all of my relationships.

Consequently, work-life balance for me became more simplistic and less of a struggle. I became more at peace – almost zen-like in my approach to life and living.

I still keep a very active lifestyle (as regular blog readers know) but I do not forsake taking care of myself while focusing on what matters most in my world.

Until recently, I only shared my story with a few select friends because; honestly many of us are on the hamster wheel cycle of running ourselves ragged. Some of it is for good reasons but a lot of it is not. “Society” tells us that we should keep “busy” because after all, important people are “busy” right? But “society” never discusses the possible negative ramifications being “busy” can have on our health and well-being.

This Forbes online article affirms that busy-ness addiction is real and strategies on how to address it. What we need to understand is that being “busy” as a personal branding statement is unhealthy. It’s time to recalibrate our thinking.