Busyness and Angst: a Cure

Essayist and cartoonist Tim Kreider wrote the following in his New York Times opinion piece called the The ‘Busy’ Trap.

“Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day…I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.”

Whoa. Tim, that’s quite a downer. And I agree. Busyness can be a decoy that keeps us from even asking, “Am I happy? What is true? What is important? Does my work fulfill me? What is most compelling and meaningful to me?”

Luckily there is a cure for both the angst and busyness. Here it is:

  • Find your SweetSpot. Take the time to explore and acknowledge what is most important to you. Discover or recover your sense of purpose, belonging, meaning, and success.
  • Live it. Your SweetSpot is a set of criteria for meaning and success in your career and life. From it you can find or create one or more projects, roles, businesses, or jobs that will let you bring your SweetSpot to life.
  • Help others to do the same. This is probably an optional step. There is a need out there for it. And it’s something that will feel pretty great to do.
  • Act naturally. Use the Effectiveness System to get to a state of confidence in both the things you do and the things you choose to not do.

I think you will do very well to subscribe to the idea that life–including work–is meant to be joyful, fun, free, and meaningful. (Even if you think life is none of this, tell yourself a different lie.) And there is no real need to cloud things up with existential angst or busyness.


In your corner,


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