The Trouble of a Busy Life

It’s 9pm, and I am writing from my office. Somehow, and I am not sure how, there are only 12 days left of 2014. After putting in a 12+ hour day at the office, I wanted to stop and reflect, and think about where time has gone.
Nearly two months ago, I came across a piece titled, “The Disease of Being Busy“. It resonated with me a great deal, and I had been meaning to write about it. But, because I’ve been too busy, I’m just now getting around to it.

Truth be told, I am so sick of being busy. I am tired of answering every “how’ve you been” question from friends, whom I see on average once a month with, “oh you know, always busy.” Anyone who’s ever known me is well aware of my pattern of constantly filling time with dozens of activities. This article highlights that this lifestyle begins at a young age, and it most certainly did for me. My Tiger Mom signed me up for every activity imaginable, and I’ve been busy since age 3, with the exception of my two years in Cameroon, and everyday since, I dream of living that pace of life again.

The life of a young professional has lived up to its soul-sucking name of 9-5 (or more like 7-6), socializing, and bed. Or as they say in French, métro, boulot, dodo (metro, work, sleep). In an effort to defy the stereotype, I’ve thrown myself into meaningful activities over the past year. I started book clubs, took +Acumen courses, even helped started the Shanghai Chapter of +Acumen. I go to museums, attend talks, concerts, and more, in an attempt to enrich my soul. I joined running groups, yoga studios to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I socialize with wonderful friends from around the world, and then, there is dating.

Let’s remember there are only 24 hours to a day. And as a result, I am always, ALWAYS, busy. In the last few months, the level of busy has reached an out-of-control level. I no longer have time to write, to reflect, and to build quality relationships. My friends joked that they need a two-week in advance appointment to see me. I’m harder to book than a Manhattan restaurant. Days run into weeks, and months, and before you know, entire 365 days pass before you. Perhaps this is why people have mid-life crises. I can see how easily it would be to fall into this pattern of life, and then before you know it, 1, 3, 5, 10 years can pass.

Scary. A busy life does not equate to a fulfilled life.

And thus, as this year comes to an end, I want to put an end to the perpetual busy life that I lead. The article reminded me that I need to live a much more human life. I’ve thought for weeks on how to best achieve this, and surprisingly, it comes down to being selfish, something I’ve always been taught NOT to do.

Yet, to live a human, quality life is to be extremely selfish with those precious 24 hours that I possess. It requires a new level of self awareness: to know when I need to be alone, or whom I prefer to spend time with. I need to be selfish and learn to say no (also difficult). Yet, perhaps as a result, I can achieve a life filled with more quality rather than quantity of, well, everything.

As I reflect on this “problem”, I am fully aware of the ridiculousness of it all. It’s a privileged person problem. Yet to better serve this world, it’s also important to understand my own limitations. The question that I ponder over is no longer, “what should I do with my life”, but rather, “how should I live my life.” Food for thought for the remaining 12 days of 2014, and beyond.

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