Until a few days ago I never questioned the relationship between glamour and busyness. To be honest, I didn’t even know it existed… yet apparently they have a great romance!
I found out about this love affair recently, during a Coaching workshop I facilitated to women ages 15 to 54. We were talking about work-life balance, reducing stress and finding ways not to feel overwhelmed with “endless TO DO lists.”
DOES IT RING A BELL?
The conversation went something like, "For a long time when people asked me, 'How are you?' I just answered, 'Tired.'” "I know, there is not enough time for everything.” "I get you. I'm always exhausted. My brain no longer works." “I'm always the last priority.” “Eating healthy? I don’t even have time for lunch!”
We were going through these thoughts when a girl who had been silent said: "Well...I actually love being busy. It’s sexy, glamorous ... Others perceive me as ultra 'pro', as a woman who is on top of everything. Today to stand out you have to be perceived that way. I can’t afford to rest or relax. And I keep my family—my children—as busy as possible… they better get used to it."
The room became silent. A minute later the balance shifted towards the idea of “Busy = Sexy & Glamorous.” Apparently in today’s world being “fine” means being “busy.” The busier we look, the better. It’s the glorification of not having enough time. We applaud multi-tasking. We go around parading that we can’t take vacations, or wearing our lack of sleep as a badge of honor. We “fake complain” about having to eat lunch in front of the computer while working…or sending e-mails, placing calls and writing grocery lists while driving.
We don't stop for even one second and think about who we are becoming and what we are feeling instead of what we are doing. Since when doing chores has become a priority over being a person?
There is no doubt we live in a world with a plethora of challenges, things to do and information. We want to do it all in order to have it all. And in the process we actually lose ourselves: more and more studies are showing that continuous stress is a major risk factor for disease and life-threatening conditions.
From that perspective, I believe it may be a good idea to stop and rethink the values we are attaching to exhaustion, lack of time to dream, play (yes, even adults) and create. Are these really glamorous and sexy or is it just the way they’re selling it to us?
IDEAS TO NAVIGATE A BUSY WORLD
During the workshop we brainstormed and came up with strategies to slow down and shift towards a new attitude. One that may prompt you to answer "I'm fine, thank you" when people asks you haw are you doing instead of "I'm busy."
Stop glorifying being busy. It’s okay not to be busy all the time. It's okay to make space for leisure and fun. It’s okay to balance things out. It's okay to recharge your batteries, sleep, disconnect from time to time, take a vacation and do things that keep us from "occupation". It’s not sexy or glamorous to exhaust yourself from stress. It’s not glorious to suffer burnout from driving your body and mind to utter exhaustion. And, yes. It’s okay to recognize we are healthy, grateful, happy and able to say: “I'm fine, thanks" without feeling guilty for not being on the verge of collapse.
You have options. The first step to a less busy life is the conscious decision to lead a simpler life. We determine more of our agenda than we think. Each decision counts. We can simplify by seeking alternatives.
Make space and create breaks. When you're working on your schedule—no matter if you do it monthly, weekly or daily—include spaces to disconnect, relax, and recharge your batteries. Give value to these "breaks.” Do it intentionally. Consciously. If you work in an office, consider taking a 5-min. break at least every 90 mins. Enjoy your lunch without staring at the computer or your smart phone… it’s meant to be a break!
Review your priorities. What is important in your life? How are you contributing to the world around you, personally and professionally? What will your legacy be? What will you miss most the last day of your life: a sunset next to the one you love or running around "doing things?" Pause. Ask yourself the questions that count.
All those things. In our workshop we saw that a great part of our busyness comes from the things we own. For example, very large houses need to be cleaned, repaired and tidied constantly. Consider making your life easier. Perhaps when you have less to clean, arrange, organize and maintain you can finally find more time for yourself and your family, minimizing the time you spend in the material things that surround you.
No is a complete sentence. I don’t remember where I read this sentence, but learning to say “NO” is the first step towards a more balanced life. There is no obligation to accept all the invitations we receive. No need to go to every event in town. We don’t have to take on other people’s responsibilities or do things because everybody else is doing it. Review your priorities. Say no to what is not a priority and make space for what is important in your life.
Leave work… at work. Don’t bring work from the office into your home. Your personal life is valuable. Engage in leisure activities or just disconnect from your job. Nourish your spirit and free your mind—it does matter. That space can give you more energy, new ideas and new perspectives to face those hours in the office.
Take vacations. In the United States there is no legislation on paid holidays, and if you are an entrepreneur and you work on your own, you’ll hardly think of leaving your business "solo". Still, make an effort to stop and take a vacation. Invest in experiences rather than things. It will make your career more sustainable and profitable in the long term.
Who’s the boss? Take breaks from computers and screens. Unplug yourself every day at least for a while. Turn off the phone. Do not check social networks. Use that time to do something creative, something you enjoy, watch a sunset, play with your pet, talk to your family at dinner, meditate, go to a yoga class or simply walk around. Ask yourself: are you controlling your mobile phone or is your mobile controlling your life?
Find peace in silence ... Reconnect ... Learn to be with yourself in harmony ... Make room for what is important ... And when it comes to “time is money,” remember: money can buy you things, but it won’t buy you any more time to live. Value the time you have been given in this life.
Niky Pauli s a certified Life Coach by the International Coaching Community, a Leadership Life Coach by the Sura Center and is trained as a Reiki practitioner. She's the founder of NikyCoach, which combines traditional Life Coaching tools with meditation and energetic healing modalities.
Photo credit: Painting by Tamara de Lempicka, Polish Art Deco painter and "the first woman artist to be a glamour star."