Are You Addicted to Permanent Busyness?

Why We Sometimes Confuse Adrenaline With Purpose

Permanent busyness is not intelligent. In fact, it is my experience that permanent busyness is often a major block to success in work, relationships, and life. The Busy Generation has to learn that it is not enough to be busy. A busy life is not necessarily a life well lived. A busy work schedule is not evidence of any great accomplishment. Being busy neither guarantees success nor equates to success. Henry David Thoreau, the American philosopher, who has inspired so many leaders and thinkers, once wrote: It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants.

The question is: What are we busy about? Permanent busyness might start with the best of intentions, but along the way we disconnect from what is truly important, sacred, and real. We lose the power to discriminate. We are so busy, so overbooked, and so obsessed with our schedules that we are no longer open and available to the essential truth and beauty of our lives. We are lost, but we are usually too busy to notice. As the popular saying goes: “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”

The Busy Generation may achieve “optical success”-in other words, the look of success-but we do not necessarily feel successful. We may achieve a lot, but we are often too busy to enjoy it. We’re too busy paying off the mortgage to enjoy any quality time at home. We have lovers to whom we’re too tired to make love. We have children who seem to grow up too fast. We have “really great friends” whom we hardly ever see. We don’t take vacations; we prefer long weekends. We are too busy to be happy.

Permanent busyness is usually counterfeit success. The “buzz” and the “rush” feel great for a time, but the adrenaline soon runs out. We become exhausted and are forced to get through the day on a diet of caffeine, stimulants, aggression, and other “uppers.” We stay busy-at all costs. The “wow” of permanent busyness does not stand up well to closer inspection. We are busy about nothing in particular. We have confused adrenaline with purpose. Our permanent busyness is a facade, and when the busyness finally stops, the house falls down.

Excerpted from my book, Authentic Success.

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