We do this to ourselves

Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 4.31.48 PMI’m so busy!

When you ask someone how are they doing, how often do they respond with- “I am so busy?”

I bet you get that answer 9 out of 10 times. Now let me ask you, how many times do you offer that same reply when someone asks you that same question?

Lately, I have been too swamped to write this very blog even though it has been rattling around in my head for many months now. I am also behind in writing our company newsletter because I am trying my best to keep up with our tremendous growth. I am not complaining. As Sister Susan Arcaro once quipped to me, “We do this to ourselves.”

Sister Susan is my longtime spiritual director. I started seeing her over 10 years ago during my brief stint at the Archdiocese of Atlanta as head of the Office of Child and Youth Protection. That is a story for another day….

One day I came to our appointment flustered and late (which to be truthful- I am rarely late). She looked at me calmly and with that soft smile said, “You know, we do this to ourselves.” And lately, I hear her voice when someone asks me how I am and I am tempted to sigh and exclaim, “I am soooooooooooo busy!”

But here is the deal- saying that in response to a polite inquiry about how you are doing never makes you or the person who posed the question feel any better. I know when I respond with that phrase it only makes me feel even more overwhelmed. I am also quite sure it doesn’t offer anything positive to the friend or loved one who posed the question.

So for the last few weeks, I have been making the conscious decision NOT to respond that way when someone asks, “How are you?” Instead, I am giving the more positive response “I am fine, thank you” and really mean it. And other than the reasons I have already shared, here are three reasons why I am changing my response and hopefully my attitude.

1. I am blessed to say yes or no to the work I have. A lot of people don’t have that luxury. When I choose to take a contract, I literally “Do this to myself’.” Therefore I have the power and privilege to turn work down if it is too much for me or better yet, employee others and/or share the work with subcontractors. By working with others, I get to collaborate with some smart people who almost always teach me something I don’t know. Working as a consultant or small business owner can be lonely. Working with others to get the work done provides me with social support and a sense of community.

2. Being busy forces me to prioritize. It helps bring into focus the things I value the most. If my time is precious and life is short, I want to be choosy about how I spend my time. When you think about it, spending time is exactly what we do. I recently had a friend tell me that every time we say yes to something, we say no to something else. So we need to say yes to the opportunities we are truly called to and let the other things go.

3. I am more productive when I have deadlines and lots of things going on. Being busy helps me to get going early each day and not waste time on unimportant email, or read every listserv post that hits my inbox, or waste time on Facebook.

I have a friend who has suffered a lot of tragedies in his life. But no matter what is going on, if you ask him how he is doing, Bill always answers “Just right.” He is not being insincere- he truly means it.

So as we enter the busiest time of the year, I encourage you to think about your normal response to that simple greeting. How are you doing? I hope you too can learn to answer “Just right.”