When “busy” was cool

Flowers at the ParkI don’t remember exactly when it was, but somewhere in the early 2000’s stressing and being busy became cool. Basically, you were pretty much a nobody if you weren’t running around like crazy or worrying about something. After all, super important people had lots of super important things to handle and do, right?

I believe that everything in life revolves around stages. Basically, everything tends to sort of come and go. To illustrate what I’m saying, sit and think a little about your generation compared to your parents and your grandparents. If you pay close attention, you’ll see that one generation tends to be the complete opposite of the previous one, and the following one will mimic items from the first. For example, your grandparents may have put a lot of emphasis on being at home and spending time with family, while your parents focused primarily on work ethic and providing a stable income. You, in turn, probably focus on a lot of the same things your grandparents did. It’s such a fascinating topic to consider if you really think about it.

In thinking through some of these things, I realized that one mysterious day, life switched to busyness being the norm. You were basic if you didn’t have a calendar filled to the brim with things to do. With smart phones glued to our hips, we were constantly tuned in to social media, texts, and work email. This became the new normal and honestly, I think we didn’t even notice the switch.

For a while, my go-to answer when asked how things were was, “I’m just busy.” Especially as a business owner, I felt I had to be “busy” to communicate success. If I wasn’t busy, my business must be a total failure. Finally, I realized that I didn’t want to be busy or even seem busy. I wanted to be successful AND sane. I wanted to work hard and play hard. I wanted to do my job more efficiently, so that I had more free time. After all, “the purpose of business is to fund the perfect life.”

These days, I feel like we’re all finding a little more balance. If you read the internet, you see people “unplugging” by putting their phones away. You don’t see as many devices being used at the table in restaurants. You may not get an instant response to that email you sent a coworker. These slight changes are not only ok, they’re good. Personally, I’ve turned off all email and social media notifications on my phone and do not disturb has changed my life. I think the pendulum swung too far in the other direction and now we’re seeing it come back to a more balanced state.

I don’t have to link to articles about the negative effects of stress. If you haven’t read a million of them already, google it. They’re not in short supply. Our bodies are not designed to operate in constant chaos mode and that lifestyle doesn’t usually create happy endings. The rule of thumb is that you give time to the things that are important to you. Of course, we must work hard to reach our goals. However, I don’t think we should place the emphasis on being busy. Instead, let’s make a pact to work hard while also enjoying our lives. Let’s schedule our days so that we get our jobs done and still have time to spend with the people we love or explore new hobbies. Let’s focus on efficiency instead of being “busy.” We won’t get to the end of our lives and be thankful for how many extra hours we spent at the office. Instead, we’ll reminisce on the times we explored the world around us and laughed with friends and family. Make those dreams a reality. Let’s go back to a time when “busy” wasn’t cool. I’m already headed back there myself.  Yesterday was a great example. Want to join me?

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