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The Thing About Busy

“Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.” — Tim Ferriss

We have a love/hate relationship with busy. We all want for more quiet time, but when we get it we quickly yearn for the energy of hustle and bustle. This is compounded by the story we tell ourselves that those who get ahead are the busiest and hardest-working among us. That might help make you a Partner at one of the “Big Three” consulting firms or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. But how often do we stop and ask ourselves why in the world we’d ever want that title? It’s a Faustian bargain—a deal with the Devil to have it all now in exchange for your soul.

Screw that.

Status doesn’t mean you’re successful at living. It just means you ground out more miles. Do we ever stop to ask what really gets ground in the process? Think about the last conversation you had with a “really busy” person. Was it meaningful or a transaction? Frazzled is a posture that doesn’t highlight one’s positive traits. To be calmly efficient is a choice; just as much of a choice as frazzled. But with better hair.

We can be successful in life without sacrificing 300,000 heartbeats a week for the profitability of whatever stock symbol we happen to align ourselves with. The thing about busy is it’s a story we tell ourselves as an excuse for not doing what we really want to do. It takes courage to stop hiding behind busy.

Instead we might choose contemplation and conversation and the deliberation of taking meaningful steps. We might seek experience accumulation and relationship building. We could delight in pregnant pauses. We can give ourselves permission to celebrate deep thinking and active listening and finding the right word without Googling it. We can rejoice in finishing what we once so boldly started but put aside because we’ve been so damned… busy.

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