When people ask: “How are you?” What do you say? If you’re like 98.68% of us, you say one of two things: “I’m fine” or “I’m sooo busy”.
Saying “fine” is a response that I’ve addressed before as unhelpful for us and for our community. I won’t go into it here but the big picture of “fine” is that you’re bullshitting yourself and those around you. Life coach Christine Hassler views FINE as an acronym meaning “Feelings Inside Needing Expression”. In this day and age, knowing depression is actually a suppression of our emotions, do us all a favor and choose a more authentic adjective: Amazing! Horrible! Excited! Mellow! The next time someone asks you, pause to check in with yourself and then answer truthfully.
And the “so busy” answer? Yep. That was me. I used to go around telling everyone (and myself!) how busy I was. About two years ago, I removed the word “busy” from my vocabulary and my life has thrived ever since. What I discovered was that saying I was “busy” was holding me back in life in two important ways. First, it kept me on the path of looking for external approval (instead of internal). When I said I’m so busy, I felt validated; justified. As if, in being busy, it showed that I had made the right choices in my life. Remove the fact that I was rushing around doing a bunch of stuff I didn’t want to do (or wasn’t particularly good at). I told myself that if I was busy then my life was obviously on the correct path, right? Second, it allowed me to hide from myself and my desires. If I was busy I didn’t have time to look too deeply at my life and how I was living it. If my days were so full from the moment I woke up to the minute I fell asleep, I didn’t have time to think of how I was feeling in those busy days. I didn’t have time to think about my failing marriage. I didn’t have time to look at how the stress I was under was showing up in my physical health. I didn’t have time to look at how I was cranky and reactive with my kids, etc… I could go on and on. The truth of the matter was that I was busy. My days were full. They were full because of my decisions. I was not a victim of my life but boy did I act like I was. This post is all about shining a light on what can be possible for you in your life. I promise you, I was in the dredges of busy yet now live a life that it much more intentional and calmer. Did I get rid of a kid or two? Did I quit my job? Did I stop doing the laundry or dishes? No, no and no. Through a series of daily practices and intentional choices I have crafted a life that is also possible for you.
So how do you do it? How can you start living less reactively? Calmer? Less like a raving bitch flying around with her hair on fire? Take these 3 steps and audit your life:
1) Vocabulary Audit: Starting today, remove the word busy from your vocabulary. Instead of saying “I’m so busy” to yourself and others, say “I have all the time I need to get done what has to get done”. This is the first step because it is the most crucial. You must pay attention to what you’re yourself. Listen to that voice in your head. If you’re routinely telling yourself that you’re too busy, your brain will look for evidence to prove that thought. It will come up with a long list of ways that you are too busy and will find ample excuses to fill your days. Once you shift what you’re telling yourself, your brain will look for evidence to support that. When I tell myself I have all the time to do what I need to do what I need to do, my brain looks for evidence to support that. Saying “I’m so busy” keeps us from living our lives. While you’re at it, change from saying “I have to” to “I choose to”. Watch how your mood shifts.
2) Time Audit: Get out a pen and write down every thing you do in your day for the next 3 days. Start with when you wake up and finish when you close your eyes. How are you spending your days? How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. I used to tell myself I didn’t have time to read. The truth was that I was choosing to spend my time doing other things (like scrolling Facebook or eating). In telling myself I was too busy, I was lying to myself. I was choosing to do other things with my time. We make time for what we prioritize. Once we do our vocabulary audit, writing down how we’re spending our day is illuminating as we learn how we are spending that day. This is the step people like to skip. Please don’t as it’s the most liberating gift you can give yourself. Why do people resist this? I can tell you why I did. Two reasons: An excuse and fear. My excuse was that it would take too much time. Serious LOL. It would take too much time to see where I was wasting time? Once I could laugh at my excuse, I discovered that I was actually a bit afraid. I was afraid to look closely at what I was doing or how I was spending my days. Because I viewed my busy-ness as a sign that I mattered or that I had made the correct decisions, I was afraid to learn otherwise. Maybe you too have fear that you’ll discover what you are doing with your days:
How much time you’re spending on your phone;
How much time you’re spending procrastinating with household chores or errands;
How much time you spend doing useless tasks that don’t move you toward your feeling state?
For change to occur, we must change things. One way to change is to change how we’re spending our days. In order to do that, we have to face our fear and….write it down anyways. How we spend our time is how we spend our lives. Track your time so you see where time is available. Be the compassionate observer of your life, instead of the critical judge. Instead of beating yourself up for all the errands you run in a week, look at why you’re choosing to do that and how you might do something differently. View tracking your time as a tool to see where you have time available. Once aware, you can certainly keep walking around with your “I’m too busy” story and to tell ourselves you don’ have time to do the things you actually want to do or…you can move on to step number three:
3) Joy Audit: Start infusing joy into your life. As adults, we take life very seriously. We tell ourselves we’re supposed to be busy and that we’re meant to live these heavy-feeling, over-scheduled lives. As if, there’s nothing fun about being an adult. We even tell kids and those younger than us: “enjoy this while it lasts” as if, growing older is synonymous with misery. I lived many of my years living this heavier life, weighed down by the responsibilities I thought I had. Consider this your wake up call. You’re not here to be miserable. In fact, I argue the exact opposite.
That which brings you joy is what you’re here to do.
I enjoy the things I enjoy because that’s what I’m here to do. That which brings me joy points a laser towards what my purpose in life is. I am not here on this earth to do something I don’t enjoy. I encourage you to pause at the end of your day and ask yourself these 3 simple questions: 1) What did I do today that I enjoyed? 2) What did I do today that I didn’t enjoy? 3) How can I do more of #1 and less of #2 in my future days?
All right warriors, how did your life audit go? How clean is your vocabulary? How do you manage your time? How much joy do you have in your days? These are 3 pieces of choosing to live a life you love. You and only you are in charge of how you feel in your days. When I realized that no one else is to blame for my current situation and no one was coming to save me, I initially felt fear. A lot of fear. But slowly, with support, I began to feel lighter, free-er and ultimately empowered. It if is meant to be, it is up to me. My life is the only one I have and I am the one who chooses how I spend my time. I have been down in that dark hole thinking my days were out of my control and can understand how you may be feeling right now. Please reach out to me. Not only can I help you, this is what I’m here to do. I’ve had my life experiences so that I can help others. Life happens for us, not to us. Choose today to perform an audit on your days. Let me know what you find.