You know how you snarl in disgust when people start talking about obesity being an epidemic?
No? Well, I do it.
It's not because I really have a problem with people that are overeating.
It's more about me having difficulty finding compassion for people that can't seem to overcome a problem that I believe has a simple solution.
Now, for most of us, our default reaction is to get apologetic as soon as we sense these emotions. I was working with someone the other day that had immense difficulty simply recognizing that he had these judgments (if you claim you don't have judgments of other people, I recommend checking your hands and ensuring you have opposable thumbs. If you do, then you also have judgments — you've just suppressed your awareness of them).
For me, I recognize that I have judgments, and that it's just my stuff showing up. There's lots of reasons that obese people struggle with their weight. Even though the solution is simple in theory (put the fork down), in practice, it is complex and challenging.
The other thing about these kind of judgments is that I don't just apply them outward — I apply them twice as much to myself. When I can't overcome something that I regard as a simple problem, I really bring down the hammer on my head. How hard is it really not to eat 6 (SIX!) cookies in a row? The answer is apparently harder than not going for a run. So the pattern for me is to eat six cookies and then go run it off. (See this post on maintenance vs. breakthroughs for more on that topic).
I'm not going to talk any more about obesity or judgments though. What I really want to talk about is the other modern epidemic: Busy-ness.
First, can you see that this is exactly the same kind of problem as obesity? Instead of putting the fork down, put your smartphone down. Stop saying yes to everything, and start saying no.
Just like healthy eating and regular exercise, the solutions are not complicated. No amount of time-management tools and smart-devices will solve the problem, just like no amount of new fad diets and bizarre ab crunching robots will change the fact that more calories consumed than calories burned equals weight gain.
This problem is everywhere. Everyone has goals they'd like to take on, but they're simply too busy. There's countless things they'd like to do, if not for how busy they are. "I'd love to meet up with you for coffee, but I'm too busy".
We relate to busy-ness as both the plague and the cure. I'm super busy and I have a million e-mails. I wish I could get back to people sooner. But since I can't, I'll just respond later and let someone know "Hey, I'm sorry for the delay, I'm really busy right now". They'll surely understand that, because I know they're also busy.
Most of us operate with an assumption that the problem lies external to ourselves. Maybe if we were working at a different job or in a different profession, things would be easier.
"Law is so demanding and hard. If I wasn't working as a lawyer, things would be so much easier". (See my recent personal blog post for more on that topic, here).
This is part of the problem. We believe the problem lies outside of ourselves, rather than owning it as our own. Yes, society is ever busier these days, and yes, there are more and more demands on your time. But no one is going to change that if you won't step up and create those boundaries. If you aren't willing to be a demand for holding your time as precious, no one else is going to relate to you any differently.
So what's it going to take to have you start to choose? How many hours of work is too much for you? What do you actually want to create in your life, versus what you feel you have to settle for?
Is this going to be the year that you break out of the busy-ness epidemic?
What are you getting out of staying busy? What would be the cost of taking ownership of your time? How do you put the responsibility for your time and busy-ness onto external factors?
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