By Yvonne Tally (2018 – New World Library)
Book Review by Joe Casey
Why is balance so elusive? Some of the busiest people I know are retired. Working or retired, doesn’t it seem like we’re all really busy all the time? It’s become a status symbol in our society. But why are we so busy today?
Yvonne Tally explains that it doesn’t happen overnight. It starts with good intentions. We get things done and that’s rewarded. We have professional success – and we’re given more to do. (More is good, right?) We start a family. We get involved in our community. All of these good things start stacking up until we feel like we’re in a real-life version of Jenga. So we carefully figure out how to juggle to make it all work. We learn to multitask to keep the tower stable.
We embrace technology, at a Ninja-level, to make us more productive, more efficient and to be able to get even more done. Technology’s great, but it comes with downsides. For one, it’s addicting. It always whispering to you – a big distraction throughout the day. It can subtly shift from a useful tool to yet another thing to manage. (Have you counted how many apps you have on your phone? How many do you regularly use? I only notice when I run out of storage and then discover how many apps I have – and wonder how did they get there?).
Interestingly, people in retirement often exclaim that they’re “Busier than ever!” when people inquire how retirement is going. That’s why Breaking Up with Busy is relevant to retirement. It’s easy to fall right back into the busy trap in retirement as there’s no shortage of things other people will gladly bring you into if you’re not mindful about it. Suddenly, you realize that your time is not really your own. Other people’s priorities can get a hold on you. The main point is that getting too caught up with Busy can keep us from our own true priorities. We learn that a busy life comes at a cost -and the price can be quite high, often affecting our most valued relationships.
Breaking Up with Busy is a book full of savvy tools, solutions, and practices. A few that stood out to me are:
- Mind Your Mindset – Think of when you’re at your busiest. How would you describe your mindset? Yvonne Tally walks through the powerful role that our beliefs and our mindsets steer our thoughts and behaviors. She offers a pathway to stepping back to evaluate it and tools to help reset it. (Have you noticed how many technical support troubleshooting issues get resolved by unplugging and resetting our devices? Same with us.)
- Learn What to Say No To – and How to Do It Well – The importance of saying No is easy to understand, yet tough to do in practice. This book offers excellent tips on how to develop your best way to say No. One set of suggestions I found especially useful is learning the Healthy Yes – how to say Yes more slowly and No more quickly.
- Create Space for What’s Truly Important – When we’re stuck in busy, it ‘s hard to see daylight. We’re going from one thing to the next, only to restart the same steeplechase the next day. Saying No skillfully opens up space to say Yes to more important, meaningful things.
- Open Up Connections – Being busy can keep us from deeper connections. Not only a deeper connection with others but a re-connection with ourselves – and what’s truly most important to us.
Let’s face it – busy has a hold on us. As the old Neil Sedaka song noted, breaking up is hard to do. It helps to have a good plan. Tally’s book doesn’t offer quick-fix solutions. She recommends starting slowly with small actionable steps. An especially valuable part of this book is its’s final section – a list of 52 practical actions you can take at your own pace – one week at a time if you choose.
While this book is written for Overscheduled Women, I believe it’s relevant for men and women in various stages of life – from working parents to someone planning for retirement or someone looking to shift their retirement to a more meaningful one. If you feel that you’re busier than you’d like to be, this book offering inspiring and useful strategies and tips to regain the balance you need and the more human pace of life you crave, this book is for you.
Yvonne Tally joined our podcast recently to share her story and how to restore balance in your life.
Isn’t it time to Break Up with Busy?
– Joe Casey
Joe Casey is an executive coach, who also helps people think through and create their Second Acts, at retirementwisdom.com