I have a new pet peeve. Quite frankly, it’s a pet peeve because I started to annoy myself. Ready for it? I am sick and tired of defining myself, how I am and how work is with the word busy.
How are you? Busy. How’s work? Busy. How have things been? Busy. What’s new? Just busy with work. OMG I can’t. No more.
“Busy” is so uninteresting. It’s dismissive. It’s self-important. I’m 100000% over it.
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I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked me, “How are you?” and I’ve replied “Busy!” or how many times my sister asked “What have you been up to?” and I respond, “Just busy working!”
First and foremost, that response prevents connection. It keeps people at arms length. It’s turning down an opportunity to invite someone into my life, into my mind and into my heart. I’m certain that one reason I’ve struggled to develop friendships is because when people extend that olive branch with something as basic as “How are you?” I’ve responded with the dismissive, surface level, uninteresting word: busy.
If there’s nothing more interesting in my life, I have to change. I either have to change what I’m doing or I have to change my perspective on it. I don’t want my days, weeks and years to simply be described as, “busy”.
Brendon Burchard posted on Instagram the other day, “I don’t celebrate busy, I celebrate freedom.”
I love that. It’s a choice. I can choose to create busy days, I can choose to complain about busy, or I can celebrate the fact that I’m free to change both my perspective and my priorities.
Don’t misunderstand…defying busy doesn’t mean working less and shirking priorities. At least, that’s not what it means for me. I’ll still work just as much. But I’m changing my story about busy. I’m changing my perspective. And, I need to create moments in my day that aren’t about work. I need to engage with people on a deeper level than just “busy” and “work”.
I had dinner with my friend Sarah the other night – I’ve mentioned her before – she made me the custom “travel light” sign for my house.
I asked her to call me out if I respond to “how are you?” or “how’s work?” with “busy“. I don’t want to be busy. I don’t want that perspective. I want to be amazing. I want to create amazing moments every day. I want to be a more interesting person than the person I am when all I say is “busy“.
I can use today as an example. I could absolutely tell the story of “busy”. There’s a lot of work to be done and I’ll be doing it. But it’s not the most interesting thing about me and my packed calendar isn’t who I am. There are very different perspectives I could take on this day if you were to say, “Elizabeth, how’s your day going?”
Perspective 1: It’s great. I slept well last night. I get to connect with a ton of people today – business is booming!! I even made time for a 20 minute breakfast date with my boyfriend. After the gym I’m going to try to grill out on the deck because it’s supposed to be a gorgeous day.
Perspective 2: I’m so slammed. I’m super busy. My car is busted and I’m trying to figure that out. I have two video conferences and a live webinar squeezed in between. I’ve got a ton of work to get done before those start. As soon as the last video is done I’ve got to jet to the gym. It’s a crazy day today! So busy!
Here are a few of the fundamental issues I personally have with using the “busy” line in my head or in conversations with others:
It gives people the impression that they’re imposing on me – that they are in the way and I don’t have time for them. Nope. I don’t want anyone in my life to feel that way. I want them to feel like they are a priority, because they are.
It prevents connection & relationship building. If I convince myself I’m too busy, I’m not prioritizing connection. When people invite me into connection by asking how I am and I respond “busy”, I’ve stonewalled them. I’ve kept it on the surface and I’ve denied a deeper connection. I’m so done with that.
It makes me feel like my work is a burden. It’s not. It’s a gift. It’s an opportunity. I love what I do. If I didn’t, I could choose to do something else. No one forces me to do this work. I’m just as free as everyone else to change my career path. Years ago I’d have killed to be in the position I’m in today. “Busy” doesn’t reflect that.
It makes each day feel like Groundhog Day. When I’m focused on how busy I am, I’m not intentional about creating moments of joy, even tiny ones, in my days. Since deciding that I don’t want “busy” to define me, I’ve started looking for small ways to make each day amazing. Instead of cancelling plans because I’m “busy”, I keep them and make them the priority. I go for short runs and walks. I pull out my guitar and play. Looking for ways to make an otherwise “average” day amazing is a game changer.
“Busy” isn’t interesting. From my perspective, it’s below average. Everyone talks about how busy they are. How boring. I don’t want my life to be boring. I want to be better than busy.
How do you feel about the word “busy”? It it something you could consider using less often?