How To Get Un-Busy and Make Room for a New Kind of Success!

I used to think that being successful meant I had to be incredibly busy, always moving at the speed of light. When I looked around, it seemed to me that all the successful people were rushing around at a frantic pace, ignoring other areas of their lives.

I followed their example and got busy, incredibly busy. I’d wake up at 4:30 to get to the gym by 5 a.m. From there I’d rush to the office, rush to my desk, rush through my emails, phone calls and work day tasks, often skipping lunch altogether. I was on autopilot, driven by some unknown force that kept me busy and feeling relevant. Sound familiar?

In his article, “The ‘Busy’ Trap” in the New York Times, Tim Krieger writes, “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy…”

This perpetual ‘busy-ness’ seems to have gained control everywhere, even to the point of threatening to take over all of our personal lives as well. All this busy-ness was what was keeping my life trivial and empty rather than productive and full. My rushing around and multi-tasking wasn’t serving me or my clients.

Kreider addresses our own contribution to the current ‘buzz’ around being busy:

“The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it.” He continues, “it has become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: ‘Busy!’ ‘So busy.’ ‘Crazy busy.’ It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: ‘That’s a good problem to have,’ or ‘Better than the opposite.’”

All that busy-ness was driving me toward an illusion of success and it was causing a perpetual stress that ultimately led to burnout! I realized I needed to re-evaluate some of my core beliefs along with my own definition of success. No longer could I define success solely by how far I advanced in my career and how much money I was earning. Instead, I had to determine if I was making a difference in the world. If I’m harried and unhappy, how can I serve others? I had to include family, friends, health and joy in my definition of success. Tony Robbins says, “Success is doing what you want, where you want, when you want, with whom you want and as much as you want.” These days, I make choices that are in alignment with my new, more well rounded definition of success.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

If you are ready to get ‘un-busy,’ here are some tips that can help you get started.

  • How do you feel? If you have all the money you need, but you’re unhappy, bored, spend too much time in front of Reality TV or have no time for yourself, your friends or your family, are you truly successful? I say NO! Stop the madness! Slow down and check in with yourself throughout the day. Are you happy? If not, it might be time for you to re-write your definition of success.
  • What drives your choices? Are you on autopilot saying yes when you should be saying no? If your moving at the speed of light, you probably don’t know why you do half of what you do, you just do it.
  • Try this. List everything that you do in a day from when you wake up in the morning to when you go to sleep at night. Determine your motives for your actions. If there’s anything on this list that’s a time-sucker and doesn’t bring you joy — stop doing it!
  • Remodel Your Future. Re-build your life with things you love. Whether it’s reading a book for pure enjoyment, taking a dance class or learning a foreign language, have some fun! Trust me, when you come back to the office you’ll be happier and more efficient.

As the world speeds up it becomes harder to slow down. It takes determination to become ‘un-busy.’ In a way, it’s like a spiritual practice but well worth the effort!

Picture Courtesy of Unsplash; Link Hoang

I’ve taken this practice to heart and have uncluttered my life. I created space. Space for family and friends and my passions, like reading and writing. I’m just about half way through my first book — a memoir! My clients tend to call me before I have to call them. Maybe it’s because I’m so relaxed and happy and our exchanges are more fun. Or it could be because they know I have time for them. I’m not too busy to truly get to know them and we build authentic relationships.

Nowadays, when people ask me how I am, my answer isn’t “Oh so busy!”

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Carolyn Ziel Writer, Founder, Essential Search, Inc.

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by Carolyn Ziel

Originally published at on October 27, 2012.

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  • Carolyn Ziel

    writer, coach, teacher, guide. I will help you find your voice, discover you’re innate creativity & live an empowered, impassioned life.