We feel most alone when we are busy. Running. Rolling through stop signs because we don’t have three seconds to pause. Tailgating the car in front of you. Telling white lies to explain away our inability to be punctual.
Last April I remember being caught up in such a time. I was sitting in a coffee shop in Seattle. I remember the girl across from me had a large white coffee cup that carried one of the most irritating statements an A-Type personality could read. It said, "You have as many hours in a day as Beyonce." And as ridiculous as this might sound, the reality was difficult to swallow.
How is it that some people are able to achieve far greater progress, success, and freedom than others with the same amount of time?
This question had been on my mind for several years. Let me tell you why: I've been an entrepreneur for 13 years. Launched my first company at 18, second at 21, third at 23, and the website you're on is number eight. I was married at 24, bought our first house at 25, published a book at 26, millionaire at 27, bought our second house at 27, father at 28, had 50 employees at 28, the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine at 29, National Bestselling Author at 30, and bought our first farm a few months before I turn 31.
The point is this: I know busy. But more than that, I know how to escape it.
Success hasn't always been my story. In those early years of self-employment (18-25), I lost thousands of hours of wasted time. I lost my heart, my friendships, my enjoyment, and my focus.
Because busy is an addiction. It's a mirage. It tells people that more effort equals more progress. And that's simply not true.
It wasn't until the summer of 2011 when an older gentlemen pulled me aside and asked me to explain the four highlights of the previous year. I couldn't do it. It was a blur. I was so busy making a living I couldn't remember my own life. I missed the first year of my marriage, the death of a friend, and the needs of my very own brother. It was at this point I realized busy could be dangerous.
As I matured in this new awareness, I began understanding the difference between success, progress, and busy.
I had a light-bulb moment. Successful people develop a system for moving ideas through to completion. Onto the plate, work the idea, and then off the plate. It looks something like this:
On the contrary, busy people are very effective at getting ideas onto the plate and even working the idea. But they lack a reliable system for getting them off.
And just like our eyes can be too big for our stomachs, an addiction to busy can leave your life with a plate of ideas you'll never be able to finish. It looks something like this:
Success requires a great deal of ingredients. From strong relationships and a well-organized life to fanatical focus and a commitment to a set of non-negotiables. When these areas fall, your race toward success goes with it. And more often than not, busy is the barrier to our success. On that note, here are three warning signs you're too busy to succeed.
1. Always Taking Plan B
The word compromise is used in two different senses, one typically positive and the other typically negative. The good sense of compromise is finding common ground with another person, as in reaching an agreement about a difficult course of action affecting both of you. The bad sense is being untrue to your core values and beliefs, as in selling out to achieve some short-term goal.
Busyness often forces us to make negative compromises in areas we'd rather not. Areas that are essential to the success recipe. Maybe it's missing time with your kids. Maybe it's being on your computer after 6 pm. Maybe it's not eating healthy or exercising. Maybe it's not going to bed at a decent hour.
Whatever it is, busyness often forces us to take Plan-B. And a Plan-B routine typically ends as a Plan-B life.
Question: Does your schedule often force you to make negative compromises? If so, what are you going to do to change that?
2. You're Relationships End Up In The Kiddy Pool
In the crunch of priorities, where do your relationships fall? The deep end or the kiddy pool? For most busy, driven individuals with countless demands on their lives, keeping up with friends often gets pushed to the side.
But you can’t treat relationships like a hobby you’ll take up when you have more time. Family and friends must remain a priority as they are an integral part of rest, joy, and growth. Three crucial components of successful living.
We must be intentional about forming and building solid relationships. Rushed “catch-up” chats and text messages don’t count. Like any other area of growth, relationships require an investment of real time and energy.
There's nothing exciting about being wealthy, known, and alone.
Question: Are you too busy to catch up with people? Are you investing into friends and family? Or are you just checking in when it's convenient for you?
3. Your Socks Don't Go There
Organization is a requirement of success. And "busy" is "organized" arch-nemesis.
Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute published the results of a study they conducted that proved physical clutter negatively affects your ability to focus and process information.
Clutter competes for your attention in the same way a toddler might stand next to you annoyingly repeating, “candy, candy, candy, candy, I want candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy, candy …” Even though you might be able to focus partially, you’re highly aware that a screaming toddler is also vying for your attention. The disorganization eventually wears down your mental resources, and you’re more likely to become frustrated. Another trait not helpful for success.
If your goal is to focus, finish, and process information with power, you must operate at a pace that allows the daily clearing of clutter from your home and work environment.
People often believe messy is normal. It's not. It's a sign of a person too busy to be responsible.
Question: Is your car, office, and home well organized or on a reliable cleaning schedule? Or are things always piling up?
Because success is counterintuitive. More work doesn't mean more results. We can spin our wheels and add to our plates until we turn blue in the face, but we must realize...
There are no shortcuts, only smartcuts to success.
Are you too busy? What signs do you see? How do you feel when you're busy? Let me know in the comments below.
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