Permission to get off the highway / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I think the world is getting busier. You can see it in the way people greet each other. Americans usually ask, “How are you doing?” It’s a formality by the way; most people really don’t care how you’re doing. They just ask because it’s the accepted social norm. The accepted social response, which used to be "fine," is now “busy.”

I think about this a lot, and try to figure out if this shift is a bad thing…

I equate being busy with high levels of stress, which I don’t like. Yesterday, I described it to my success coach, Daniel Olson, as feeling like a car running in the red. You just know it’s bad.

Daniel proceeded to create an exercise for me that completely altered my thinking. Picking up on my car metaphor, he asked what kind of car I was seeing. It was an old clunker. He asked, if I was a car what kind of car I would be? I laughed because that’s an MBA interview question. After thinking for a moment, I decided I would be a Mercedes because it’s classic, dependable, and can haul ass if you want it to.

My perception of busy-ness immediately transformed with this new visualization. Instead of seeing a clunker running in the red, I saw a gorgeous Mercedes flying down the Autobahn. The stress morphed into fun!

We carried on by talking about how you have to take care of cars with high quality gas and routine maintenance. For me, that’s real food, yoga, meditation, and bike riding.

And, we decided that sometimes you have to pull off the highway, take the slow route, and enjoy the view. Some people do this with 10 min breaks every hour, or a couple of longer breaks throughout the work day. A couple of longer breaks felt right for me.

Here I was this morning, hauling ass on the Autobahn. I was putting out proposals, reviewing training modules, and responding to client requests. After 3 intense hours, I gave myself permission to pull off the highway. I left my office and enjoyed about 10 minutes of yoga and a stroll around my neighborhood. I returned feeling like a new person, ready to hit the fast lane again.

If you were to ask me how I’m doing today, I would reply, “Great!” 

Author: Grayson Leverenz

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

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