Chasing your own tail
It’s so easy to get caught up in the activity trap. Doing more and more every day. Sometimes making progress (but not as much as you would expect after all that effort) and sometimes getting nowhere.
Many will try and cope by introducing more activity – the gym, the pub, meditation, yoga, running. And sometimes these activities seem to make them feel better. At least sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with any of these activities if you truly enjoy them, but if you don’t and you’re doing them then purely as a coping mechanism, then the chances are you won’t stick at them. They’ll be just another item on your to do list and they’ll be making the activity trap even worse.
My mentor many years ago was someone who seemed to achieve an enormous amount with very little effort and very little stress. It always fascinated me how this was possible when others around him were running faster and faster on their hamster wheels, becoming less and less productive and eventually burning themselves out.
If you are caught in the activity trap, then rest assured there is an answer, but first you have to:
- See the activity trap as a problem that you really want to fix – if you are truly happy with your situation, then what’s the point in changing it, right?
- See your situation as something that you could change – if you see your situation as just the way you are, the way your company/industry/market is and will never change, then you won’t be open to a solution. You won’t commit, because in your view, deep down, there is no point.
- See yourself as the real source of your busyness. OK, this is where I may lose you, but the key source of your busyness, is not the situation you are in, but the state/quality of your thinking. I’ll explain.
How busy you feel and how much you are actually doing are not inextricably linked. I know people who do very little but are stressed out about how busy they are. I also know people who are doing a great deal and do not see themselves as being over-busy. You see busy-ness is more a state of mind than it is a state of activity. And the amount of truly productive work we do is based on our state of mind:
- With a clear, calm mind we achieve a lot and feel energised
- With a busy, cluttered mind we achieve little but feel exhausted
Now, if you have a clear, calm mind and cannot get through the work expected of you (despite having pushed back) within the hours you are willing to commit, then you’re probably in the wrong job or working for the wrong people, in which case the answer is obvious.
But for most people, the solution does not involve changing anything on the outside, but looking within to the source of the problem – busy thinking. And contrary to popular belief, our thinking changes instantly, once we see the truth that we are the creator of our own state of mind.
Think of a dog chasing it’s tail. Running round and round furiously. Putting more and more effort in. Getting more and more frustrated. Now if we could communicate with the dog, we could say ‘You’ll never catch it. It’s your tail. It’s attached to the other end’. The dog may then burst out laughing when it sees the truth. It may carry on for fun, but it won’t get frustrated any more.
Alternatively, it might ask us what we suggest it does in order to cope. Maybe meditation. Yoga. Going to the gym. Drugs. Alchohol.
Interested? Ask me about Coaching for a Clear Mind on 07768 596026