The Busy Business: A Good Problem to Have?

The Busy Business_ A Good Problem to Have?Every so often, a well–intentioned friend kindly inquires of me, “How’s business?”

To which I mistakenly reply, “Busy!”

And that typically leads to an encouraging response such as, “That’s a good problem to have!”

Does that conversation sound remotely familiar? If you are a busy mompreneur, you may recognize the dialog. It seems only natural to commend entrepreneurs on the successful busy-ness of their businesses. It’s as if there are two extremes – either your business is slowly starving you to death, or it’s bustling and hectic and causing you to practically destroy everything else in your life. And somehow, the latter is preferable. In fact, it’s a good problem to have.

But is it? Really?

Since when did “busy” become synonymous for “successful”? I would deny this a thousand times, but deep in my heart, it’s what I believe. I know it’s not good. I know it’s not the way I want to live. But I keep falling victim to the busy trap.

And it’s definitely a trap set by the enemy! As Alli Worthington’s granddaddy used to say, “If the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy!”

I have good news for you (and me)! Your self-worth isn’t based on your productivity! Just ask Mary and Martha. We all know who chose the good portion.

I try to remind myself of their story every time I become too busy at work or in the home.

I’ve written about the busy race before. But I’ve mostly focused on how we can set boundaries and prevent ourselves from being workaholics. But I think there’s a deeper issue at heart. There’s a fundamental problem that’s rooted in our thoughts and feelings about the way we work and live. I could blame it on the fact that I come from a long line of businessmen who worked way past retirement age. I could chalk it up to the fact that I have a strong work ethic. Or I could face reality – I’ve accepted “busy-ness” as my own personal definition of success. And I’ve got to change that definition!

So here are five steps I’m going to take as I get rid of this “good problem.” Join me in shifting the way we think and talk about our busy businesses!

  1. Stop telling everyone you are busy. I’ve got to stop using that word to describe my business and my life. It’s lazy and it’s a form of complaint. From now on, I’m going to answer the question of “How’s business?” by sharing an exciting or uplifting little story about my week. Can you pledge to do the same?
  1. If you really are too busy, let something go. I’m willing to bet we are all too busy, and we could all let something on our schedule go. This is easier said than done. And I have a nasty habit of filling up the void with a new activity within days. But, in the spirit of starting over, I’m going to revisit these 20 things we can say “no” to now.
  1. Stop trading hours for dollars. If you’re in a service-based business, you probably have an “hourly rate.” It’s awfully hard to separate “success” from “busy-ness” when the math tells us that the more we work, the more we earn. So maybe it’s time to start charging by the project and getting paid for your expertise rather than your time? Or maybe it’s time to simply say no to the money.
  1. Know that you are loved and needed and appreciated. My friend Grace always says, “If you’re too busy for God, you’re too busy.” It’s a reminder to me that God doesn’t want us to be busy. He wants us to be with him. And he loves us for who we are. Not for what we do.
  1. Start celebrating the stillness. I don’t remember the last time I thought “I’m bored.” Or the last time I woke up wondering what I was going to do that day. I’m not sure I can create a whole day of nothingness in my schedule, but I’m going to start celebrating the stillness. I’m going to take every opportunity I can to nap, read, have a long chat with a friend, drink a second cup of tea, etc. And I’m not going to feel lazy or guilty or unproductive. I’m going to feel successful! My prayer for you is that you do something you thought you were too busy to do.

Let’s work together to find another benchmark for success! So the next time someone asks us about our businesses, we can answer with good news – instead of a good problem.

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  • Maggie

    I pledge to take on number 1 above and stop telling people I’m busy and telling them some sort of good news instead. Thanks for that suggestion!

    • Ok, Maggie! I promise to call you out if I hear you tell someone you are busy – if you promise to call me out as well:-)