A few months ago, someone I know on Facebook posted a sign that said, “Busy is the new happy!”
Luckily, I was given a copy of Alli Worthington’s Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace & Purpose in a World of Crazy to review, and I kicked off my year with it. Within a few days, my book was finished and had enough Post Its projecting from it that it looked like a paper porcupine. (The picture on the left was taken while working in the car during lacrosse practice, after dropping off the other kid at a play rehearsal.)
The message is this: a busy life is different from a full life. A busy life is frazzles and harried. A full life is when your time is occupied by the things that matter most to you.
I related to much of what Alli wrote: saying yes to things out of guilt; being a people pleaser; getting caught up in urgency; and even grumbling about fun nights out with friends because they were hard to cram into my schedule.
Saying no without guilt takes some practice. I know, I’ve been trying.
Alli shares strategies for for how to break the overcommitted, harried, crazy-making cycle, and I’ve found one of those ideas working for me. I’ve started to think about future Kim. I used to do this here and there in the form of self-awareness about the future. It’s easy to agree to commitments far into the future because I’m always optimistic that I would have tons of free time in the future. Of course, that is never the case.
The decision-making framework recommended is based on Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10 analysis. How would you feel about this decision in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years? It reminds me of that pretty motivational image on Pinterest that says, “A year from now you’ll wish you started today.” Taking the easy way out may help in the moment, but not long term. Agreeing to that additional work commitment seems easy in the moment – I’m not letting anyone down – but when it comes time to do the work and everything else in my life is additionally taxed, I fully regret that initial decision of yes.
Beyond realizing six months from now may not be a laid back life I hope for, I started thinking about more near term stuff. Checking Facebook will delay dinner, which, like dominoes falling, will knock back everything else that follows. While I want to check Facebook, 30 minutes from now Kim will be much less stressed if I don’t. It doesn’t always work, yet it mostly does, but maybe because there is a voice in my head screaming, “MOVE AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER!” It takes practice and I don’t always succeed.
Busy is not the new happy. Life is still full and often busy, but saying no to the noise and yes to the things that matter most makes the fullness less frantic. It’s an evolution, but it’s moving in the right direction.