It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?
Henry David Thoreau
1817 – 1862
We all have plans and dreams for a better, more fulfilling life. Yet study after study shows that only a small percent of people actually achieve their dreams. A good question is: why?
Recently, I was working with a young man who was struggling to get on his feet. He had written out his goals, had powerful reasons why he wanted to achieve these goals and knew the actions he needed to take to get the life he wanted. But after weeks of trying, he still hadn’t made much progress.
So we took some time to try to understand what was holding him back. As we examined his average day, it became apparent to me that he was much too busy. He was spending lots of time doing lots of different things. I suspected that most of what he was doing was not very important in the greater scheme of things.
We did some exercises to identify which activities were important, which ones were urgent and which ones were filling (or killing) time. As it turned out, most of the things he was doing throughout the day were filling time.
He wasn’t comfortable unless he was very busy, so he created things that needed to be done. He was always working on something — yet at the end of the day, he had rarely accomplished any tasks to move him closer to the life he wanted.
This behavior is fairly easy for an outside observer to spot but extremely difficult to self-diagnose. The solution is to slow down and get comfortable with being still, with contemplating what we really want and examining whether our actions are aligned with our goals. Many of our activities are avoidance activities: we do things to fill up the time and thus avoid having to do more difficult tasks.
It wasn’t easy, but once the young man finally accepted that he needed to do less overall but more of the important things, his life took a dramatic turn for the better.
Are you running yourself ragged? Try eliminating some activities from your life and spend more time and energy on the really important tasks. Eliminate the busy-work from your life and you’ll enjoy life much more.
Beware the barrenness of a busy life.
469 B.C. – 399 B.C.
Copyright © 2017 John Chancellor