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16 Jul 2016
You have a case of the envies.
You grow envious about entrepreneurs and business trailblazers—those people who’ve stepped outside their day-to-day duties to live their greatest aspirations. You watch with interest as friends take risks to achieve their wildest (and not so wild) dreams. You even take note, brow furrowed and jaw clenched in frustration, of news stories about people who create, who inspire, who leave behind the status quo to realise their ambitions, no matter how big or how small they may seem.
And despite the green-with-envy air with which you consider these success stories, you think to yourself, I can’t do that! I don’t have time for that!
So I ask you, Why not you? Why not now?
The inspiration for this piece came from a recent survey of my beautiful, smart, talented, capable clients and readers. Within the results of the survey, I was shocked to find the top excuse that readers said gets in the way of their happiness is this: I am too busy and don’t have the time to take action on my goal/s (maybe I’ll do it later).
This is heartbreaking! Goals give us motivation, and they help us develop a roadmap to our own happiness. Big goals guide small goals, which provide us with small moments of achievement and victory each and every day. So denying yourself the time to work toward your goals means you are denying yourself many, many moments of bliss.
Goals are not something we should ignore or reject. Especially not for a schedule filled with frantic, joyless errands, meetings and running around.
At this point, you may be rolling your eyes. Delaying your own goal-centric projects is a part of life, you say. That’s just what it means to be an adult, right?
Wrong. Your life goals are not a proverbial carrot dangling just out of reach—and you are not too busy, too preoccupied to grab a hold.
You are more than your to-do list
You deserve the truth, and I’m happy to give it to you: “I’m too busy” is an excuse. You are not too busy to take action on your goals. You have the power, the skill, the confidence to work toward them. And you deserve the opportunity to give it a go. Now is the best—and only—time to take action. Because “later” will never come, and your schedule will never magically clear.
As we’ve discussed, when you say, “I’ll do it later,” you actually mean “I’m too scared to take a chance” or “I don’t think I can.” It’s honest-to-goodness negative thinking.
Your thoughts influence your feelings, and your feelings influence your behaviours. It’s a cyclical relationship. And then each of us throws 65,000 thoughts into this cycle a day. When you have all of these conscious and subconscious thoughts about not having enough time, you begin behaving like you have no time. You become convinced you are too busy to take on anything new.
With this mindset, you will never take hops, skips or jumps toward achieving your goals.
Wish upon a star, then reach for it.
So being too busy is a perception, one that you can and should overcome.
When you think of the word “busy,” what do you think? Stressed? Tired? Frantically running from one thing to the next without time to soak it up or soak it in? Working through a list of items because of your fear of missing out or your need to please others?
If you answered yes to any or all of these, then you are busy for the sake of being busy. You fill your days with stuff that doesn’t make you happy, that doesn’t fill your heart or satisfy your soul, that doesn’t help you take steps toward a greater sense of purpose.
How much happier would you be if all your hustling and bustling was for something that gives you joy or satisfaction?
People observe that I am busy regularly. Friends and family members often witness me going from one appointment to the next. My mum worries about my seemingly packed schedule, and my friends think I’m too busy because they see my happenings on social media. I have one girlfriend, Marissa, with whom I organise catch-ups a few weeks out. When we see each other, every time she says something like, “You have been really busy lately… Are you OK?” For me, organising catch-ups a few weeks out means I might have a few things on my schedule. But the items on my schedule might not be events or meetings or catch-ups. The hot dates filling my diary are often actions that support the goals and dreams I am chipping away at.
My life is deliberately full
I also have a really good idea of how much rest I need and what “fills my cup” to re-energise. So my schedule looks packed, but it’s packed full of things that matter to me.
You can have busyness that matters too. It begins with changing your mindset.
Let’s reframe this unhelpful, negative thinking, shall we? Remember that what you focus on grows, so instead of thinking, “I’m too busy to reach my goals,” try one of these:
Pick one and say it a few times. Notice how it feels. The first couple of times, you’ll probably think, Can anyone hear me saying this? Once you check and the coast is clear, take three deep breaths and give it another go. Notice how these thoughts feel in your body. Does it make any difference?
Science shows the benefits of introducing more helpful thoughts over time (They don’t have to be overwhelmingly positive. Even neutral thoughts are more helpful than negative ones). If you have a gratitude habit, such the Top Five, you know the power of positive thinking. It’s time you think more positively about taking action toward your goals.
You’ll notice that none of my suggestions include sentiments like, “I dedicate every spare second I have to my goals.” There are no limits or suggestions for the amount of time you’ll spend. That’s different for everyone.
You can visit this blog for a whole heap of clear-your-calendar worthy tips and tools for taking action toward your goals—and taking it now.
Visualization has been a tool for top athletes and Olympians for decades. Take a gold-medal approach and sit back, relax and watch yourself succeeding. Whether it’s a presentation you need to nail or a meeting with a potential new client, take some time to envision the ideal scenario, creating a mental plan for winning.
Often you don’t actually know what you want out of life (you know other people’s expectations, but you are not connected to your own wants). Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map is one of my favorite tools for helping you figure out your true desires. It’s about ensuring that your ambitions take into account how you want to feel. As she says in her book, “Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have. Generating those feelings is the most powerfully creative thing you can do with your life.”
When you are busy with work, family, friends and a mountain-size to-do list, it can mean sacrificing your own ambitions. By using the Pomodoro Technique, you can find small amounts of time to take big actions. Set a timer for 25 minutes, and start researching, writing or applying. No interruptions, no distractions, just concentrate on one task. After 25 minutes, take a break. You’ll either have finished the task or you’ll be so engrossed in your work that you’ll reset the timer and keep going.
It’s easy to spend your life wishing and waiting for that overseas trip or that big career break… or even just holding out for the weekend. These Top Five Movement question cards help you figure out what actually makes you happy now (‘Cause sometimes we can be clueless). They help you hone in on the good in your life to ensure that your goals take into account all the amazingness that already exists.
With a bit of positive thinking and a whole lot of procrastination-slaying power, these productivity planners help you eliminate distraction as well as prioritize and focus on what really matters. It’s time to start checking things off your list!
Write your goals down. Too simple? Not fancy enough? In one study, 3 percent of Harvard MBAs made 10 times as much money as the other 97 percent combined. What’s the one thing they had in common? They set clear, written goals for the future and then made plans to accomplish them.
Lastly, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to sign up for my regular so-useful-you’ll-thank-me emails. I am all over the best and brightest developments in the world of positivity and self development. So let me do the sorting for you and bring you only the most effective tools and tips to help you live longer, be healthier, happier, more confident, less lonely, more relaxed, more creative, help you bounce back from hard times quicker, experience improved emotional balance and even sleep better.
With loads of gratitude,