I wore the busy-ness badge of honour for many years, unconsciously believing it was a sign of success. Unconsciously believing it was the only way to be, if I wanted to do the work I wanted to do and live the life I wanted to live.
This unconscious belief is deeply entrenched in most of us, I think, certainly those who work, or have worked, in a corporate environment. Back to back meetings, long working hours, “more for less” mantras, blurred or non existent boundaries between work, rest and leisure. The list could go on.
And whilst I would acknowledge the part, as individuals, we play in our own sense of busyness, I also believe the working practices we’ve been ‘coerced’ into following should change.
So, what is busyness anyway?
Well, my definition is that it’s the state of being so busy that we are operating on auto-pilot. We become so blind and unconscious to what we’re doing and why, that our actions become habitual. There’s a deeply embedded culture of always on, always doing, always producing, driven by a relentless and incessant need to always be busy, or at least look busy. You can watch a 2 minute video here, on my musings of busyness.
There are many problems with busyness, not least of which is the impact on our health and wellbeing, but for this article, I want to focus on the impact it has on our ability to lead, ourselves and others.
It’s a fact that we all accept, that life is full. There is a lot we all want to do; for many our work is our passion, along with our family, hobbies, charitable work etc. Add to that, the technology that most of us have at our fingertips, means that we and ‘things’ are always readily accessible. Our demands and expectations are high.
As I see it, this in itself isn’t the problem. We can lead a rich life, full of a variety of things we hold important, but we don’t need to get stuck in busyness to achieve it all.
But, once we are stuck there, its effects can be severe – for ourselves and those around us.
It affects our ability to think well, to make sound decisions, to be creative and innovative.
It affects our motivation, our engagement, our energy.
We lose sight of the longer term vision we (used to) hold for ourselves, so focused on what’s right in front of us. Head down, not up.
It affects our relationships, our empathy, our connection to the world.
As I said, severe!
What I’ve discovered over the years on my own journey of busyness and subsequently recovering from it, is what I am now calling The Pathway to Natural Success.
In a nutshell, it’s a way of being that means that we can achieve the things that are really important to us, without having to exhaust or compromise ourselves along the way. We can become more conscious about what we do and why, living and leading from our best.
One part of the Pathway is aligning with the natural rhythms, the internal and the external, and I’d like to focus on the internal rhythms here. That is, your own natural rhythm.
There are many elements that make up your own natural rhythm, for example:
- personality traits
- sleep/wake cycle
- hormonal cycle
- sensitivity to the external rhythms (the seasons for example)
Once you know what your own unique rhythm is and find ways of working with it, you’re operating from your own flow, not that of some one or thing else’s.
From this place you are living and leading in integrity with your mind and body. You are able to get more done with less effort or push. You are living and leading from your best.
So, how to find your rhythm and what to do once you have?
It’s a matter of really getting to know yourself. Knowing when and where you are at your best, and what you need when you’re not (not to find ways to push through the feeling, but to give yourself what you need in that moment). What drains your energy, what inspires it? Who do you enjoy being around? When are you most creative? What sleep do you need?
A great starting place would be to get a journal or notebook and do some self reflecting over the course of say 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, pull out the themes and look for the opportunities to align with your natural rhythm where you can.
- how can you adapt your daily/weekly/monthly routines?
- how can you better manage your diary/schedule?
- where do you need to commit to some rituals or practices to keep your alignment with your rhythm, in particular your self-care needs?
- where can you influence change in your workplace setting?
- where can you establish some boundaries?
I know the workplace setting can be restrictive in terms of rhythm, it can feel like we have to follow its rhythm rather than our own. But, if you are in a position to influence change in the culture and practices, please do. As an individual, challenge your assumptions about what’s possible. Remember, at the start of this article, I said I (unconsciously) believed the busyness was the only way. I now know that wasn’t true, so what are you holding as true that actually may not be?
If you’d like to know more about working with The Pathway to Natural Success, either as an individual or within your team, let’s have a conversation. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org