Have you noticed how busy everyone seems to be these days? We are so busy doing, achieving, tweeting, following, emailing, texting, connecting, keeping up, making more PowerPoint slides and just working. We are busy telling people we are busy and feeling increasingly overwhelmed.
And yes, we live in a 24/7 world. But it was the light bulb that changed the game in terms of having light when we wanted. It was never social media tools and technology that made us busier. That is merely an illusion.
What Do You Choose?
Choices have always been available to us. Everyone has their own path. Some are just starting out, while others end all too soon. Whatever course you are on, the choices you make define who you are. We make hundreds of choices every day. Most of them innocent decisions like, "Should I "go to the gym or skip it today?" Others require a bit more thought, like, "Should I order the grilled cheese with fries," which I love, or be "good" and get the salad, "which I know is better for me but won't satisfy my grilled cheese craving?"
And then there are those really tough choices we make about the course of our lives. Choices. They're the ingredients of our lives; they shape us. The choices we make in how we invest our time can either stifle us or bring a whole new world of possibilities.
Do you think of them as choices? Have you ever noticed that so many people have advice for you about what you should do with your life, career and relationships? How does anyone know you? And yet, the self-help cookie cutter solutions sell and the number of books, articles, blogs and workshops are increasing to instruct you on what to do. Most people have a thirst for quick fixes, templates, Dummies Guides, and top five 'how to' steps. For those living in abundance, we are overwhelmed by the choices and often blame technology. It's never about the tool. The tool is not to blame for the choice you made to be online or read your email.
The secret is to customize the technologies that would work best for you and your situation. To simplify and make them part of your life instead of signing up for a technology detox program. If you are committed to eating healthy, for example, did you have the salad or the grilled cheese with fries?
Let Go of the Fear of Missing Out
With growing fear in the workplace, people are putting more hours into work and have a false sense they need to be available whenever the job requires. Mantras like work-life balance make many resentful when they work on the weekends and know they simply need to work the hours to keep their jobs. And the older generation is befuddled by the younger generation who looks at this work reality and thinks it's ridiculous. The 20- and 30-somethings see the world as life-work, where work is a means to an end. They are not all defined by what they want to do but how they want to live. And as one recently told me, "My generation is itching to work and make a difference in the world."
And it brings us back to an aging population of workers who is asking themselves: "is this it?" There must be more to life. Many are starting to realize that they have simply been numbing themselves with being busy. It's easier to be busy than to do the hard work and find out what it is they really want to be doing -- apart from working 24/7 and numbing themselves with more and more work. It's easy to have a big title and feel satisfied with the money that gets deposited in the bank account like clockwork every two weeks. But what about time to be there for themselves, their families, friends and community? Is there bucket list growing or is their satisfaction with living a full life today increasing?
It's easy to eat great food and drink fabulous wine and cocktails. It is easy to keep busy and feel so needed by our jobs that nothing else matters. A friend, who was blindsided by a layoff, told me that his company always expected him to put his work before his wife and kids (with the mantra of work-life balance in the background) and he would. He worked the long hours. He worked weekends. He gave his job his all. And then one day, he was told he was no longer needed at work. They had no choice but to lay him off. And while they expected his family to be understanding of what they demanded of him, when they cut their ties, they provided no support for his family. There was no one for them to talk to and help them through the transition.
The transition of not only being jobless but that he was numbing himself with being busy. And when his wife asked him whether it was worth it, it was the first time he stopped to think about the choices he made so he can make better ones. Today, he has his own company and has very clear boundaries with his clients so he can not only spend time with his family but also pursue his passion for music.
So why are we surprised that the younger generation, who saw their parents dedication to their job result in loss, prioritizes life over work? Why are they not choosing to numb themselves with being busy?
What can you do? Start paying attention to the choices you make and don't let anyone else dictate what is valuable to you. If you need to go for a walk and breath, just do it. You'll realize that you may be missing out on enjoying that one moment than worrying about what you may be missing out on. Take the time to live fully and find out why you were so busy numbing yourself. You will be amazed at what you find out!