Busy much? When I moved to Southern California from Canada almost twenty years ago, the first thing that struck me (after Christmas lights on palm trees) was the TIME people spent at work. Now admittedly, my previous role was OBM Project Director which was not a 9-5 and afforded me a degree of flexibility that likely ruined me as an employee. But it was so strange to me how so many people would wear their hours like a badge of honor. I felt like a guilty slacker leaving after ‘only’ eight hours, even if I didn’t have anything else to do. Fast forward a transition from consultant to director and I no longer had to pretend to have a full plate. In only ten years, I had drunk enough work-flavored Kool-aid to actually believe that I preferred working in small doses on vacation (and maternity leave, for that matter) because it gave me peace of mind that I wasn’t too far out of the loop.
And hopefully if you’re reading this, you’re calling BS on me, as I should have on myself, because this mentality is rooted in fear, fear, fear. Part of it is fear of being discovered to be replaceable, and part is that fear that is marking the emerging generation (Generation Z, because Millennials are SO last year,). It’s so prevalent it has a name FOMO (fear of missing out) and is a critical component of our social media addiction.
I’m reminded of the spokes on the traditional coaching Wheel of Life – family/friends, romance, physical health, spiritual life, career, personal growth, money (or some combination thereof). My experience in most workplaces today is that to be considered ‘worthy’ of promotion and further opportunities, one has to deny all the other spokes, or at least ensure your employer that they won’t become a ‘distraction’. We’ve bought into a culture where complete subservience to the work-spoke feels like the only way to ‘succeed’ – except the definition of success is to have enough money to be able to buy all the other spokes and you don’t find out it doesn’t work that way until it’s far too late.
For most of us, change happens when enough pain is reached and when I eventually found myself on the outside of the crooked wheel looking in, the journey from complete financial terror, to overwhelming relief was surprisingly short. The freedom to build a wheel that fits my life has been sweet indeed. Of course, it’s not without drawbacks, as I am now faced with what I can only think of as Buffet Plate Syndrome in which so many things look delicious that I’ve taken a bit of everything and now have an even fuller plate than before, only with things I’ve chosen.
This all came to a head because of a project I’ve been wanting to start for a while. One of my consulting colleagues is an absolute genius when it comes to Organizational Development – particularly as it relates to culture. When we were talking about our specialties one day it became quite clear to both of us that we need to write a book, as our strengths directly complement one another. He has all the research and theory, and writing comes easily to me (especially if I don’t have to research). This book will be so beneficial to leaders in helping them build the company that they want to build that I’m driven to write this book. And:
- Grace Group (my novel) is getting released June 17th
- I’m in the middle of finalizing my leadership and my OBM webinars for scalable training
- I’ve got an OBM project just ramping up
- I’m busy with some other great clients and projects
- It’s summer and in the summer I like to play and have adventures with my kids (See how I put that last, like I think it detracts from my credibility, even though it’s kind of most important, and what I build my schedule around for the most part).
Here’s the part where I’m supposed to insert a ‘CALL TO ACTION’. I guess I could ask you to pre-order Grace Group, or talk to me about webinar training or OBM consulting where I can help you create efficiencies and all that, but today I just feel compelled to challenge you (and myself) to look at your wheel, and your plate, and all your other metaphors and do a check in. Are you ‘appropriately’ balanced (as my coach always says), are you content with your prioritization, and have you bought into any beliefs that don’t serve you? The last can be the scariest but also the one that sets you free.
So to close, if you feel like you can’t fit it all in, join the billion-member club. But if the things that are taking your time and energy don’t feed your soul and are sucking life from other areas that are important, this might be the day to start looking at that and asking…can it be different?
Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm providing comprehensive organizational development solutions for companies who are growing and who truly value their people. With certified Executive Coaches, Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) practitioners, SPHR-certified HR professionals, and Organizational Development Specialists, Carrie’s team brings a unique perspective and a cross-functional approach to providing workplace solutions that work. Carrie can be reached for consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org