Bob presents helpful ideas in the supervisors meeting. He asks questions hoping to prompt discussion and assigns tasks. He feels like things are getting done. The meeting ends. Bob knows what needs done and who he talked with, but no plan is made for followup, no dates are set for how long projects will take, and no deadlines are produced to ensure work is completed. Everyone is busy so things must be okay.
Suzy is a soccer mom. She wakes up at dawn and starts a mad rush to get the kids to school, do housework, run errands, volunteer at organizations, and prepare for a busy evening running the kids around to activities. She lives a reactionary life. Rushing to put out fires and solve momentary problems. She does this for eighteen years and then much of that activity stops. Where is Suzy then?
Jane has goals, but has been sucked up into the work and mom thing. She leaves meetings where things are discussed and no one tracks anything. She answers texts from her kids for requests for money and reminding her of the long list of things she has to do when she gets home. She is a busy mom heading no where fast. She just reacts and gets through. What does this look like in twenty years? Perhaps a midlife crisis.
The problem with activity is that it convinces us that we are accomplishing something when in fact we are just busy. If we aren’t acting in a way that accomplishes a goal then our actions are not helping us get anywhere.
Do you know busy people? I do. They are busy living an unanalyzed life. Their busyness gives them joy though they have no clue why. These people often boast about their busyness. It’s a sure sign they have no clue where they are going.
Do you know accomplished people? I do. They are as active as the busy people, but their actions are purposeful. They have analyzed their life, made goals, and are acting to accomplish them. They live intentionally. They weed out what doesn’t need to be there so they have the time to work on things that matter.
There is no one way to fix this, but here are some things to consider. As you do your view of life will grow and develop and through that you can figure out how to get on track living the life you want to live.
1. Analyze your life. I set aside time on Saturday and Sunday mornings to sit in my library and read, meditate, and write. I constantly evaluate what I am doing and why. I live a very focused life. I don’t do anything unless it somehow fits into what I want to accomplish. Which probably means I need to have some fun.
2. Analyze and set goals. Never stop looking at where you are and where you want to be, but realize that it can be a moving target depending on what life throws you. Set goals. Buoys floating on the horizon.
- What do you want to accomplish in 5, 10 or 20 years?
- What do you want retirement to look like?
- What can you do this year to help you get to where you want to be in 5 years?
- What do you need to stop doing and start doing?
- Are the right people in your life to provide you the support that you need?
3. Live intentionally. I don’t do anything without first seeing how it fits into what I want to accomplish. I don’t join a club, go to an event, volunteer at an organization, or do anything unless I am sure it fits into the goals I have for my life. Saying goodbye to things and saying no can be difficult at first, but once you get started doing this you will feel so free.
4. Act purposefully. Take action to get you to point b. This is the part some people never get too. This is the only way to move ahead. Example:
Down size house: We are remodeling and preparing to get the house ready to sell this year. We need time and finances and are acting accordingly so that we have both. Cutting out unneeded activities, second job, selling things, etc.
Your goal: Eliminate busyness, make a mental or physical list of what actions need to be taken, start acting, record your progress, review regularly, and repeat the process.
5. Review. Keep reviewing how things are going. About a million obstacles will probably block progress. Overcome them and move on. In December we were sucked up into the car repair industry tornado and can’t seem to get out. A higher power must think I like the check engine light because it keeps coming on. We are tackling this obstacle, but it’s getting us off track from paying for a remodel. So we are reviewing where we are to ensure we get back on track.
What jolts most people out of their busyness coma? Life tragedy, loss of job, sickness, death, or other major life event. Just the process of aging is enough to jolt you out of your deepest coma. Let’s not wait until life jolts us out of our living an unanalyzed life. Let’s jolt ourselves out and get about doing what is important.