The Truth Behind Busy

20/01/2016 11:39 GMT | Updated 19/01/2017 10:12 GMT

The Institute of Leadership and Management conducted a study in 2014 that showed working overtime is firmly embedded in the UK working culture. An incredible 76% of people routinely work late in the office or at home, 48% regularly work through their lunch-break and over one third (38%) work weekends.

It seems I'm not alone in growing up to believe in hard work. However, it seems that hard work is not necessarily connected to the quality of the output, but rather the hours that you work. Right now as you sit here reading this, there's an army of busy people furiously charging through to do lists, meetings, days, weeks and years of their lives. I have met so many people who believe that sacrificing life now will ensure a better future. Let me let you in on a secret, exhausting yourself now only means you are missing out on your current happiness.

The truth is that "busy-ness" does not lead to a happier, healthier or more successful life. In fact if anything, it prevents you from truly living. Busy can mask your own fear, insecurities and you can use it as an excuse for almost anything. Busy has become a hiding place.

I say this as someone who has suffered burn out and experienced first hand how damaging "busy" can be. I have since, very happily, jumped off the busy treadmill and watched my health, relationships and happiness grow.

If you want to jump off the treadmill and join me, you need to do these three things;

1. You have to define your version of success

As an entrepreneur there are thousands of courses teaching you how to run a 6 figure business, what is a 6 figure business really? That could be a £100,000 or a £999,999 business and there's actually a big difference in that. The question you need to ask yourself is, do you really want that anyway or are you being told that's what you should be aiming for?

In the workplace, a title and pay grade might be one persons' definition of success, whilst for another it might be doing great work they're proud of.

Be really clear about what YOUR version and measure of success is.

2. You have to be ruthless about how and where you spend your time

When you lie on your deathbed I'm certain you want to look back at a full and happy life, surrounded by loved ones with memories of the time you spent together. Time is the one commodity we spend and never get back.

As a senior leader in a large corporation and someone with a very busy social life, I could very easily get pulled into "busy". One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to apply the two question rule;

1. "Am I truly adding value by being here?"

2. "Is this the very best use of my time?"

If I answered no to either question I knew I had to step back and re-evaluate.

3. You must be clear about where you're going and why

The reality is goals are often set without thinking about why they're wanted or what will happen when they're achieved. Examine your goals and ask yourself the real reason why you want them, what's the motivation behind them? I often refer to the fisherman parable as I think it's a beautiful way to summarise that often the things we want in life are closer than we realise or perceive them to be.

Don't get so busy making a living you forget to make a life.