Do you have a word that makes you roll your eyes? I do. We often give it in response to “how are you?” Can you guess? The word is busy. These 4 letters are often worn as a virtual badge of honor at work. And every time I hear it, I cringe. I cringe not because of the word itself, but because of what it’s become.
Let me explain.
It has become an auto-pilot word
You don’t even think about it, it just rolls off your tongue when someone asks you how you’re doing. It’s become a filler word. But have you really asked yourself how you’re doing? I’m well or I’m sick better describes how someone is doing.
It doesn’t really tell you anything
You can be busy but not productive. You can be busy but not focus on the right things. And you can be busy but not deliver high-quality results at work. So, what does it mean anyway? Check out this perspective from SLOWW
It creates a false sense of success
Too often the assumption is that if you’re busy at work, you must be successful and important. We should not measure success and importance by how busy a person is. Instead, it should be measured by the impact they make. And that impact can be on the life of a loved one. It doesn’t have to be world-changing. But it will change that loved one’s world.
It can create health imbalances
Especially before the shutdown, we were living hyper-accelerated lives, always rushing from one thing to the next. While we complained at times, we took pride in being busy. Somehow it became synonymous with achieving. Our over-scheduled lives led to more stress, exhaustion, burnout, and a variety of health concerns. While the word “busy” doesn’t create health imbalances
, the extent to which we took “keeping busy” can.
And last but not least, people often over-scheduled themselves to avoid dealing with their emotions. If you distract your mind with other things, you don’t have to think about your pain. The more your soul hurts, the more you work out your body. Sound familiar? This is not necessarily a bad thing—as long as you do the inner work too!
When the world stopped and we were forced to stay at home, our lives got turned upside down. People were grappling to find their footing in the new normal. The old paradigms no longer worked. The new situation forced us all to look inside.
Where do we go from here?
As we re-emerge, we have an opportunity to re-evaluate our old patterns. What did you learn during your time of self-reflection? What lessons do you want to take with you? What do you want to leave behind? How do you really feel? And what words will you choose to express how you’re feeling?
Don’t get me wrong. The word “busy” itself is not a cringeworthy word! What it came to represent is. Maybe it’s time to update our vocabulary and do away with “busy, busy” and “keeping busy” as our states of feeling.
So when you ask me how I’m doing, I’ll make every effort to give you something other than “busy”.
Image by Yan Krukov, Pexels