Why having a schedule that's 'so busy' is just to protect your ego

Don’t lie. I know you’ve heard it before:

“Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. My schedule has been jammed packed lately!”

Maybe it was from your best friend or maybe it was from one of your high maintenance clients. Maybe it was you.

This is something Brene Brown has called “wearing exhaustion as a status symbol”. Everybody derives meaning for their life from different sources. For so many of us in America, that source is not our work itself but rather how much we feel we are working. If we work more than our neighbor, we feel better about ourselves.

Finding status for yourself is inherently an ego serving activity, and when we hear that word “ego” we pretty much immediately assume we’re doing something bad. Yet, as much as assuming a certain status serves your ego, it is also, in some way, what Guy Winch calls emotional hygiene.

I’m under the opinion that finding status for ourselves is a crucial step in forging meaning for our lives. Establishing a personal perspective of your own status in the world is not meaning in and of itself, but it is a foundation off of which you can shape the meaning you apply to your life.

Exhaustion doesn't have to be your status

Exhaustion doesn't have to be your status

While we may be practicing emotional hygiene when we associate our behavior and moods with a certain status, it doesn’t necessarily mean we are practicing good emotional hygiene. What follows being so busy and having that exhausted status is a line of reasoning justifying why you’ve worked hard enough today.

Stop me if this thought pattern sounds familiar: “I’ve been at work all day, I’m tired, I’m not going to put up with anyone else’s sh** for the rest of the evening. I’m just going to order take out and watch something on Netflix.”

This may be a fine evening to you. This may be all that you want out of your day to day routine: to work a hard day at a job you like (enough, anyway) then come home and kick your feet up.

Or it may be that you really have a project that you want to get started on, but every day you come home and you feel so drained. You let days, weeks, months, years pass you by without getting started on that project because you work hard.

I’m here to tell you that it whichever camp you fall into is fine. It is 100% okay to have a job that you work hard at, come home in the evening, and relax. It is also 100% okay to have a deeper passion that you want to pursue, have a job that pays the bills, come home in the evening, and take some time for yourself to relax.

What isn’t 100% okay is to lie to yourself about why you do what you do.

If you are in the first camp of people that just wants to come home and relax, then why not just do that? Why do we feel we need to justify our time to relax with how hard we worked for it beforehand? You know you spent all day at work. If you want to come home and do whatever relaxing activity you want to do, why not allow yourself the space to do that without feeling like you have to prove yourself through the “exhausted” justification?

Similarly, if you are in the second camp of people, why not just tell yourself a more you-centered truth? Instead of justifying with “I’m exhausted from working all day. I just want to watch some TV and let my mind chill!” try this on for size: “I have a passion I really want to work on, but today was a little too tiring for me to give my best self to it. I am going to cut myself some slack tonight but will work for 30 minutes on my idea tomorrow evening.”

Here’s the thing: if you have a passion you want to pursue, but it keeps getting put off because of how exhausted you feel, you are gaining the status and identity of “the exhausted, overworked American” and losing footing on the status and identity of “the person who pursues her passion.”

Whether we are aware of it or not, everything we do adds, in some way, to the image we have of ourselves. The reason I wanted to write this post is because we deal with a lot of scheduling issues here at TimeTap. Many people will say that their schedule is just crazy which I partially believe but I also take with a grain of salt.

“Crazy” can be so subjective. One person’s “crazy” schedule may be simple to someone else. I think our culture drives all of us to take on this busy status and invites us to feel right in claiming exhaustion at the end of the day.

Here’s my question, though: if your schedule has you feeling routinely exhausted, isn’t it time for a change? Do you really want to continue to feel exhausted or would you rather claim a new status for yourself?

If this post rings true for you, then the first step is to bring more awareness to all those times you’ve called yourself exhausted and worn it as a badge of honor or justification. If you find yourself in this as a day to day routine, ask yourself if you really want this to be your status, part of the foundation for which you forge meaning out of your life. If you don’t, then start introducing subtle shifts in the justifications you give yourself so you can begin the process of finding a new status.

And if you need even more help creating a schedule for your day to day appointment setting that feels less tiresome and exhausting, try setting up a free TimeTap web scheduler: