• Michael Barnett is chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.

I'm like any addict. When I know where my next fix is coming from and there is no risk of supply running out, I'm relaxed and in control - not agitated, not stressed, not jumpy and not on edge.

But when I'm not sure, I become all those things and worse as I wind up tight as a spring.

As that uncertainty peaks, and with agitation and mood swings to match, those around me can't help but note the change in me. They offer to help but they have no idea of what needs fixing and what help looks like. That's because as addicts we don't share or even admit the problem, but immerse ourselves in finding those fixes that satisfy our need.


And then our worst fear happens. Our supply stops. We have no fix. There is no happy place to confidently strut and smile and love and be loved. Reality check.

Our addiction is speed. The speed of the corporate lives we lead, the adrenalin rushes we get as we move from meeting to managed meeting - a meeting with a problem requiring a solution, a meeting with praise, with criticism, with those admiring and seeking our influence and leadership. It all happens in 15-minute bites and it happens every day, every week of the year and at speed. C'mon, be honest, I'm not the only one.

Our supply is fed by our gatekeeper, the maker of appointments, the person who lets the people in to see me, or puts me on a podium to see others, who tells others how busy I am but maintains a perpetual flow of scheduled, stimulating, structured activities to keep me busy doing and affirming that I am alive, always on.

Measuring my life out in coffee spoons is not for me - nor you, I suspect. For every day of the year we live this life at a pace that others observe in awe. And then in late December someone calls out - "stop!" There are no meetings, no seminars, no cocktail parties, no team briefings, no acolytes visiting the altar.

How long did it take you to turn off these holidays? What damage did you inflict on the family or friends as you went cold turkey, your time yours alone to fill with real people and real life - your life?

Did you learn to breathe again, to look at who you really are, not what you are as defined by your job, status and sense of importance?

Did you go commando and switch off the phone? And take the time to look around and realise that just being you is good, so is being with people who matter to you, sharing, listening, talking and laughing is good - and being where your feet are is very very good.

So this year I am going to fight my addiction - it might take more than 12 steps - but now that I have recognised the signs and the impact of my behaviours as a jobbing junkie, I am going to change the things I can, find fresh value I can add and live a whole, balanced life beyond my appointment diary.