Ever get tired of hearing other people respond to your polite “How are you?” with a groan of “Arghh, I’m sooo busy!” ?
It’s become almost automatic, I’m not sure we even notice we’re doing it.
I genuinely cringe now when I hear it. Because I’m thinking:
Are you? Are you, really? And if you are, what are you doing about it?
I guess I shouldn’t be so judgy, but I can’t help myself.
You see, that used to be me.
In some ways I felt like it gave me a status symbol. If I say I’m busy, they’ll think I’m really important. And if they think I’m really important, they’ll also know I’m super smart. And if they know all that then maybe, just maybe I’m ‘in’. You know – I’ll belong. Be liked. Be part of the cool kids’ group.
All that ‘stuff’ that we have buried since childhood about wanting to fit in and play with all the cool kids at school somehow manages to hitch a ride with us all the way through to adulthood.
And whether we realise it or not, we’re still running with exactly the same behaviours – except that our adult ‘tantrums’ now happen more internally. And externally, we put on a much more professional front.
Which leads us to say things like “I’m soooo busy” (instead of “Why won’t you plaaayyyy with me?!” ?) to a colleague while we hold our breath waiting to see if we’ll be accepted.
Does this resonate much? You’re not so strange. Some of this response is built into our human wiring.
If you’re feeling like ‘busy’ is your go-to it’s also likely you’re holding yourself back from actually living your life right now and at the very least could be having a whole lot more fun.
So, what to do about it? How do you abandon busy for good? Here’s four steps to get started:
- Forget BUSY. Completely. Ditch the word entirely from your vocabulary. Challenge yourself to come up with any other word to fill the void and simply stop using it entirely.
- Get specific. What exactly do you mean when you want to say “I’m busy”? For so many of us we’ve never paused long enough to understand these automatic responses. Knowing why we’re heading for that answer in the first place can give lots of clues as to what you’re really holding back on in your life. Deep down, if you were honest with yourself what is it you’re want others to know when you respond in that way?
- Identify your gain. When you know why your auto-response kicks in, you can also start to identify what it is you get from choosing to keep busy. Because even if you actually are really busy—i.e. your schedule is so overwhelmingly full you’re not sure you can handle a single extra task—you’re still ‘getting’ something from it. Maybe you get to feel in control. Or a little safer. Or it means you get to ignore that thing on your list you keep procrastinating.
- Clean slate. When you know what’s been holding you back from changing your response, you can start to create how you really want things to be. If you don’t want to feel BUSY anymore, then how do you want to feel? What would you replace ‘busy’ with?
This is where we can sometimes get stuck and revert back to our old autopilot ways. Our brains have a negative bias to keep us safe. Which translates to us being pretty good at articulating what we don’t want in our lives versus what we do. Ditching busy for good requires you to create the pathways in your brain to also know it’s safe for the new stuff to happen. Literally take the time to articulate (verbally, written, draw some pictures, just get it out of your head) how you want things to be. How would you most love to (honestly and authentically) respond when someone asks you how you are? And if you weren’t so busy anymore how would you like your life to look, feel and sound instead?
Personally, I’ve realised I like leading a full, vibrant and energising life. I like filling my schedule with satisfying work, catch ups and social adventures. And, I also love to fill it with space. If that’s what busy equals, then wonderful. As long as you’re the one defining it for you.
Ready to make a change, just need the steps to do so? Join us at one of our regular in person workshops (see here for dates) or book in for a complimentary ‘get unstuck’ coaching call right here. We’ll uncover what’s holding you back so you can get moving quickly.