Have you ever used some version of “I’m SO busy” as an excuse?
Let me confess up front, I have.
But just recently, I realized “I’m SO busy” is only partially true.
Yes, the reality is, my life is FULL. I’m sure your life is too.
In an ideal world, our lives are FULL of things we value in life. That’s certainly true for me. I thoroughly enjoy spending time with my rockstar husband, my adorable 19-month-old twin babies, my beloved coaching clients, quality time with friends and family, redoing my website (SO excited about this!), writing about inner peace, making a difference in the world, veggie smoothies, taking time for yoga, massages, sleep, reading, learning and growing, watching “Parenthood” (my new fav TV show), date nights, time at the beach, sunsets, connecting via social media, putting my babies to bed every night, and enjoying yummy food and wine. Ahhhhhh!
It’s also no secret I really value inner peace. That means, I also clearly and carefully put boundaries in place so there is breathing room between the activities I value most, so I can create and live my best life possible while maximizing inner peace.
Of course, there is only so much time in a day. 24 beautiful hours can quickly fill up when you’re passionate about life and honoring your values.
Other people also have ideas for how you should spend your time.
One of my clients has a super large circle of friends and family. As she was striving to create more balance and space for herself, she noticed the ongoing slew of invitations to birthday parties, showers, weddings and random social gatherings. Every minute of her evenings and weekends were accounted for, leaving her zero time for herself. Ugh!
Another dear friend has two busy teenage daughters involved in LOTS of outside school activities. She also has a hard time saying no, so found herself on a dozen different volunteer committees! When we added it all up, it totaled 30+ hours a week of volunteering and most weren’t fulfilling. She was running on fumes. Super ugh!
Professionally, demands from others are even trickier. Naturally, you want to allocate time to clients, potential partners, vendors, employees, bosses, and associates. But, sometimes their needs and desires aren’t in alignment with your ultimate business vision, short-term objectives or schedule of the week. Email is a big way others ask for your attention.
No wonder so many feel they don’t have control over their lives and inner peace is an elusive concept.
I’m not dissing on the value of friends and family, activities for kids, volunteering, serving clients, bosses and employees or responding to email.
However, if other people are dictating the vast majority of your day, you’re living into their best life, not your best life.
So, now you’re thinking “I’m SO busy” could never be an excuse — it’s simply — reality. Right?
I used to think that too.
But, let’s look at this more objectively.
When a friend says, “Things have been crazy lately” or “We’re super busy!” — what is it communicating?
Do you automatically assume they are enjoying life to the fullest and simply honoring their values? Do you assume they’re present to each moment, enjoying a nice balance between doing and being? Do you assume they’re highly productive, yet also enjoying a calm inner core?
That wouldn’t be my assumption.
Or do you think to yourself, “Wow, they must be running around like a chicken with their head cut off.” Or maybe you feel bad for them for seemingly living so out of control. Maybe you assume they are stressed, overwhelmed and miserable, which may or may not be true.
In either scenario, you may still wish your colleague had more time for you, but you may have more respect for one set of assumptions over the other.
Is the phrase “I’m SO busy” really an excuse?
I started noticing how habitual the “I’m SO busy” phrase was in my life. Simultaneously, I noticed my life has space for the things at the tippy-top of my priority list, the things I value most in any given moment.
It doesn’t mean I don’t want to respond favorably to every joint venture partnership or interview request. An unanswered email or phone call doesn’t mean I don’t care. And, it doesn’t mean I’m overwhelmed 24/7. Though I have my moments.
For me, “I’m SO busy” was a polite way of saying, “All my time is allocated right now or for the next week or month.”
Of course, life is dynamic, and we constantly get to adjust our priorities to make room for what IS truly important — a call to a family member or friend, supporting a colleague or a new creative project.
The busier our lives get, the more we have to prioritize, set boundaries and let go of guilt for making conscious choices for ourselves. That’s not always easy, but the ecstasy of a calm inner core is worth it.
Are you using “I’m too busy” as an excuse?
Answer these 5 questions to determine if you’re using “I’m too busy” as a backward way to set boundaries — or if you really are TOO busy for your own good. Be honest.
1. Do you have elbow room? Do you guard and protect time to breathe, read, write, meditate, set goals, know yourself, journal, reflect, organize, enjoy downtime or just plain relax into your beingness? Having elbow room helps you keep your connection to your Higher Self strong and actively keep inner peace alive.
2. Are you clear about your priorities? What’s most important to you in life? Health. Relationships. Quality time with children. Inner Peace. Friendships. Growth. Connecting. Adventure. Getting out of the house each day. Well being. Intimacy. Breathing room. Connecting. Achievement. Order. Fun. Spirituality. Creativity. Hobbies. Or ??? When you know what’s most important to you in life and make them your priority, it’s easier to create and live into your best life.
3. Do you say “no” when you need to? Ah, yes… beloved boundaries. If you’re a people pleaser, this is a toughy. But, as you know yourself and your capacity, it becomes clearer and clearer what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to. Use your inner peace compass and a guide. Honor the “no.” Saying “yes,” when you know it’s going to throw off your equilibrium, is like having that extra dessert or cocktail when you know you’re already at your limit. The consequences aren’t worth it. I’m certainly not perfect at this, but I try to avoid the “overwhelm hangover” if I can. I value my inner peace.
4. Are you thoroughly enjoying everything you say “yes” to? You know you’re living into and honoring your values when you’re enjoying each unfolding activity in your life. Good for you! You love your work and workouts. You love time with loved ones and with yourself. You love being productive and relaxing. You simply love what you choose each moment. If there is something you aren’t fully enjoying, do it less or put it on the “no” list — at least for now.
5. Can you let go of the guilt for having a great life? Maybe this is the toughest question of all. The vast majority of the population aren’t living into their highest potential of fulfillment and inner peace. Even people who live amazing lives have different values from yours. That doesn’t mean you should feel guilty for living an extraordinary life. Own the life you’ve created for yourself. Priorities shift and change, and that’s okay. Give yourself full permission to continually design and live into your best life.
If you answered “YES” to one or more of the questions above — congratulations! That says a lot about who you are. If you’re also habitually saying “I’m TOO busy” — you may be using that phrase as an excuse. What can you say instead?
If you answered “NO” to one or more of the questions above, you have an opportunity to uplevel your inner peace and fulfillment quotient. Maybe now is the time to create more elbow room, to prioritize, to practice saying “no” to things you aren’t thoroughly enjoying and let go of guilt for having a fabulous life. If you want help with this via one-on-one coaching, feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org
How did you do? I’d love for you to take a moment and share your thoughts, answers, comments, and questions in the comments below. I look forward to connecting with you there!
Here’s to living your best life!