The word busy has gotten a bad rap over the years. It typically is associated with burn out, frustration and going crazy. However, I am here to save the word and put a different spin on it. Honestly I’m not attached to the word but I think the mindset that is created when we feel anxious about being busy can be harmful and so I want to change it up a bit.
The word busy has a few different definitions. The one that best fits where we’re going today is being “fully occupied in a particular activity.” So the first question is this: Is it bad to be fully occupied in a particular activity? I think we can all agree that being fully occupied with certain activities is good. I mean, think about all the guys out there that need to learn to be fully occupied in a conversation with their wives. Did I just break some sort of man code for throwing my fellow guys under the bus? Sorry.
My point is that being full occupied in the activity you are presently doing is a great thing. However, when we think of the word busy we really tend to think of being overwhelmed and running in many different directions at one time. Ironically running in many different directions at one time is kind of the opposite of being busy. What we really mean when we say we are busy is that we are busy doing a certain activity or activities and that because of that we cannot do some other activity.
When we talk about being busy we talk about it as if something else is controlling our life. We act as though life circumstances or other people somehow have determined that we must spend a certain amount of time on a certain activity and this therefore means that we only have the leftover time for anything that we might choose. Last time I checked YOU and only YOU, decide how you will spend your time!
Now, I realize that some of you are thinking, “Bob, come on do you know what my job is like or do you realize I have 3 kids.” My question to you is this: Did anyone force you to have the job you have or have the 3 kids you have? Beyond that, you could decide right now that you are not going to go to work tomorrow and you are not going to take your kids to their sports practice tomorrow. I’m not saying this would be the wisest way to adjust your life but you do have that choice.
You have a choice about how you will spend every minute of your life. My guess is that you have not taken ownership of that and you have allowed people and life circumstances to shape your present situation. It’s time to stop allowing that to happen and to begin to take control of your life. It’s time for you to direct it and decide what direction it will go and how you will spend your time. I understand that it may not be easy and it may take some time because of where you are at present but I can promise that it is well worth the effort. You are working your butt off right now doing things you don’t want to be doing so why not use that same effort to create a life where you are doing the things that you want to be doing when you want to do them!
As I began this post I started with the idea that balance is not about being less busy but about choosing our busyness. Balance is about spending time doing the things that are most important to us, that we are passionate about and that bring fulfillment to our life. I typically ask my clients to look at 6 areas of their life to think about the balance they may want: career, finances, spirituality, relationships, physical health, fun/hobbies. My goal is to help them think about what a “10” would be in each of these areas and then to build a path to achieve that.
Achieving balance in life is about being busy doing the things that we genuinely want to be doing. I am very busy but I have good balance, not perfect, but good. When I’m with my family I am fully occupied with that activity and I love it. When I am with a coaching client, I am fully occupied with them and it is amazingly fulfilling. When I am out watching a movie with my wife on our date night, I am fully occupied in that activity and treasure the rest and relaxation I get to experience. When I am working on marketing for my company, I am fully occupied in that activity and I enjoy the creativity I get to use. The point is that I am very busy but I am not overwhelmed because I love what I do.
So I think that we can conclude that the thing that gets in the way of balance is not being busy. It seems to be a lack of focus, a lack of vision and lack of taking control of our life. You have far more control than you realize. We unfortunately never grow up learning this. We grow up thinking we need to go through the motions of getting a good paying job, so that we can have the right house and take care of our family. What that really means is play it safe, get a job in the most stable industries and if you’re lucky maybe you’ll get a chance to go after what you really want. Forget that!
I’m going to encourage you to do a few things to help you get started. It’s your choice if you do them.
- Take a look at the 6 areas of your life that I mentioned above. Assess where you are in each area right now. Be honest!
- Now think about what a 10 would be in each of those areas. Be honest! If you are being honest some of things you think about should be a little scary.
- Create your vision using those 10’s as a guide. Write out what your life would be like if all those were 10’s. Write it as if you have already done it!
- Ask yourself what area is most important for you to focus on first. Once you’ve done that, create 1-3 goals related to that area that will help you move in the direction of the 10. Understand that the goals do not need to get you all the way there but just get you moving in the right direction.
- Be persistent, follow your passion and remember that you are in control of your time!
Follow these steps above and you will be well on your way to being busy doing the things that you want to be doing and experience a well-balanced and fulfilling life. If you have any questions or want some guidance in this process contact me and I will be on touch.
To your success,
Bob Elster, CPC