“I am too busy to attend professional development lunches.”
This statement can easily be viewed as a badge of honor. Someone might say this to the person who is attending the meeting as a put-down, as a demonstration that the busy person is more important.
Or to herself, the person who continually does not attend.
“I am too busy [important] to make time for something that might be better for me in the long run, but that is not urgent now.”
The flip side is “I am in control of my schedule for today. I have accomplished what I need to accomplish for the day by noon, and I have blocked out time to work on an important project in the afternoon. I will attend the professional development lunch because this is what I do. I do it because I know that in the long run it makes me a better person both professionally and personally. I know that this deeper growth will lead to a better future.”
Most people value the former and not the latter. Including my own internal monologue.
Perhaps we should choose the latter instead. It may require that we tell ourselves the latter everyday until we actually believe it. It will probably make us happier, more rounded, and better people.