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The Busy Trap

Every year I find myself re-reading a blog post in The New York Times, called The Busy Trap. It is, hands down, my favourite blog post on the internet.

Ironically, I’m almost embarrassed to share it, in the same way I’m embarrassed to admit that I actively enjoy reading personal development books. I mean, who actually does that?

That L on my forehead stands for Legend, not Loser.

I like them so much because they challenge me. I’m far from being a perfect friend, partner, son, brother or grandson. I do (and don’t do) things, and often retrospectively think, “I could have handled that better.” I dislike the fact that I have trouble changing plans last minute, and can never seem to be anywhere on time. Arriving early? What does that even mean?

And as I get older, I find that these behaviours and habits become harder to shake. In my eyes, personal development isn’t a swear word, but rather is encouraging and inspiring. Because if I open my eyes to the way other people think, I have a chance of becoming a nicer person to be around. There are many parts of me I wouldn’t change, but some I want to. These types of books and blogs give me a chance of achieving this.

Among other things, The Busy Trap makes some very good points about how we are scared of idleness, complain about being busy, yet aren’t willing to do anything about either. Most noteworthy, in fact, it has become something we are proud of.

Choose Your Own Adventure.

The funny thing about our priorities, values and habits is that at the end of the day we have chosen all of them, and they couldn’t apply any more directly than to our most popular resolution: improving our fitness. Don’t have time? You’ve taken on too many obligations. Not eating as good as you apparently want? You’re not putting the right things into your shopping basket. Not exercising? You’re the one making the excuses.

I don’t say these things in immunity. I fall victim to all three examples, among many more. The point is this: To say we are too busy for <insert anything you hope to accomplish> is less about time, and more about where you’ve decided your priorities lie. Sometimes our priorities are based on our goals, sometimes by our obligations, sometimes by our laziness. Sometimes we forget that we can choose them, and in turn, they are chosen for us. That job you currently work at but don’t enjoy? That crappy TV show you’re currently watching? Choices.

Let’s Make A Pact.

That we will be open to change. We might not actually make any changes for some time, and we might not even notice the changes as we make them, but being open to change disqualifies our right to complain about any circumstances we find ourselves in. Any hole you’ve dug you can climb out of, and every pair of shackles has a key.

And any time you forget this simple point, Google The Busy Trap. The blog post will be waiting there for you, like it does for me every year, ready to remind you.