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Stop Glorifying “Busy” and Sabotaging Your Goals

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When was the last time you spontaneously met a friend for coffee? If you’re anything like I used to be, you probably can’t remember when. You’re likely rushing from appointment to appointment, digital calendar and planner in hand… and you’re looking at least three months ahead if you want to squeeze a friend in. Am I right?

If I was to make a guess, I’d say you also probably aren’t working toward the goals and achievements that are highest on your bucket list, either. Somehow you haven’t found time between your job (your boss can’t do without you), your volunteer work (if you don’t do it, it probably won’t get done!) and everything else you’re supposed to be doing.

Being busy makes us feel important and needed. But by saying “yes” to everything, we are also actively sabotaging ourselves, our dreams, and our goals—damaging our mental and physical wellbeing and distracting ourselves from what we really, truly want. 

What is self-sabotage?

Self-sabotage manifests as any thought or behaviour that keeps you from achieving your goals and reaching your vision of success.

For many of us, being busy and focusing on checking off items from those to-do lists pumps up our feelings of self-worth while also distracting us from engaging in meaningful self-care practices. We block ourselves from achieving authentic success by committing to senseless, unfulfilling distractions, day in and day out. This often results in physical symptoms and exhaustion that don’t seem to have a direct cause. 

I used to be one of those people who were so booked up I had to schedule coffee dates three months out. I was always rushing from A to B to Z, crashing hard at night, and then doing it all over again the next day. I tried to be everything to everyone and I defined how good my day was by the number of tasks crossed off on my to-do list.

Although my bosses loved my proactive “get-stuff-done” attitude and I thought my behaviour made me super successful, eventually my body began to suffer. I experienced chronic migraines that derailed my life for days at a time. I was perpetually tired, and I was sick from nausea nearly every day. 

The final straw came when I was eating my third dinner in a row in my car. Surrounded by crushed-up napkins and nauseous with indigestion, I decided something really needed to change. Enough was enough.

“It is not enough to be busy. The question is: what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau

Ditching Your Self-Sabotaging Behavior

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that we are engaging in destructive patterns. This isn’t surprising, as often it’s our subconscious brain running the show. Although our conscious brain may identify a want or need, there is often a deep-seated subconscious barrier telling us, “This isn’t safe and I don’t like it. Retreat! Retreat!” 

But by becoming aware of this thought pattern and making a few fundamental shifts, we can break through this resistance and change our unproductive behaviour.

1. Schedule fewer events and stop rushing from one thing to the next

I know, I know, this is so obvious, but if you are an overscheduler like I used to be, you need to consciously figure out where you can leave gaps in your schedule. Actress Kate Walsh (of Grey’s Anatomy fame) refers to this as a “ventilated schedule” and I love that term. This practice is essential and yet it’s also not easy.

Make room for downtime in your calendar to recalibrate and reflect (Sundays work well for me), and then—most importantly—do not schedule anything during those times! If anyone asks you to do something or go somewhere, you can tell them that you have a prior commitment (which you do—to yourself!).

2. Only say “Yes” to things in alignment with your goals and values

Take one of those newly unscheduled gaps in your schedule and sit with yourself for a moment. What do you really, truly want out of your life? What goals do you want to accomplish? Are you taking on tasks because they are important to you, personally? Or are you taking on tasks because you want to make other people happy? With this new knowledge in mind, start saying no to the things that don’t push you along your chosen path.

When we say yes to everything that comes along, we are actually saying no to the things that we do want. We are dividing and diluting our energy instead of focusing it on our true goals. We can’t be our best selves and reach real, sustainable success. And being tired and overbooked ensures we are too busy to celebrate any successes we do achieve. You can help eliminate this problem for yourself by carefully considering where you want to invest your time and energy.

3. Recognize that being “busy” is a cultural problem, not your problem

Our society glorifies being so busy we can’t see straight. We celebrate endless checklists and exhaustion in the hope of being seen as productive and reliable employees, friends, volunteers, and parents. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and change starts with you.

Yes, people will push back on your new-found priorities, and you may even second guess yourself when faced with something that you’d normally say yes to. Trust me—unlearning our old habits takes time. I’ve been working on this for quite a while, and even I fail miserably sometimes! But I also know how to get myself back on track ASAP, and you can do that too.

From Self-Sabotaging to Self-Supporting

The truth is that we have to be our own biggest fans and supporters. Stepping back and slowing down is a life-changing exercise that will be your ticket to more fulfillment, happiness, and career success. And although you’ll still face plenty of roadblocks while working toward your chosen goals, you’ll feel more confident knowing that you’re not the one who put them there.

Alana Ruoso is a Success Coach for Designers and Creatives who know deep down that they can do better, but keep falling short of where they want to go. With humor and honesty, Alana shows them how to ditch the struggle, own their value, and move their career from vanilla success to spectacular triumph. In addition to 20 years of experience as a Graphic Designer, Art Director, and Brand Strategist, Alana is a Life & Executive Coach and is a Mentor with Young Women in Business and the Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD). To work with Alana, visit www.alanaruoso.com/coaching, or dig into her success tips over at www.alanaruoso.com/dig.

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Success Advice

20 Ways You Can Become a Powerful Communicator

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Emile Steenveld Speaker and Coach

Some people seem to naturally know how to effectively communicate in a group setting. They can express themselves clearly and listen attentively without dominating the conversation.

Being a powerful communicator is important for several reasons, including building and maintaining relationships, achieving goals, resolving conflicts, improving productivity, leading and influencing others, advancing in your career, expressing yourself more confidently and authentically, and improving your mental and emotional well-being. Effective communication is an essential life skill that can benefit you in all aspects of your life.

But, don’t worry if you don’t naturally possess this skill, as effective communication is something that can be developed with practice, planning and preparation.
 

1.  Listen actively: Practice active listening by giving your full attention to the speaker and responding to what they are saying.

 

2. Use “I” statements: Speak from your own perspective and avoid placing blame or making accusations.

 

3. Avoid assumptions: Don’t make assumptions about what the other person is thinking or feeling.

 

4. Be clear: Express your thoughts and feelings clearly and concisely by getting to the point and avoid using jargon or overly complex language.

 

5. Show empathy: Show that you understand and care about the other person’s feelings.

 

6. Offer valuable insights: When speaking in a group, provide a valuable takeaway or actionable item that people can walk away with.

 

7. Be an active listener: Listen attentively and respond accordingly, incorporating your points into the conversation.

 

8. Choose the right time: Pick the most opportune time to speak to ensure that you have the group’s attention and can deliver your message without interruption.

 

9. Be the unifying voice: Step in and unify the group’s thoughts to calm down the discussion and insert your point effectively.

 

10. Keep responses concise: Keep responses short and to the point to show respect for others’ time.

 

11. Avoid unnecessary comments: Avoid commenting on everything and only speak when you have something important to say.

 

12. Cut the fluff: Avoid being long-winded and get straight to the point.

 

13. Prepare ahead of time: Sort out your points and practice them before speaking in a group.

 

14. Smile and be positive: Smile and nod along as others speak, to build a positive relationship and be respected when it’s your turn to speak.

 

15. Take responsibility: Take responsibility for your own actions and feelings.

 

16. Ask questions: Ask questions to clarify any confusion or misunderstandings.

 

17. Avoid interrupting: Allow the other person to finish speaking without interruption.

 

18. Practice active listening: Repeat what the other person said to ensure you have understood correctly.

 

19. Use your body language too: Use nonverbal cues such as eye contact, facial expressions, and body language to convey your message and build rapport.

 

20. Be aware of the tone of your voice: it should be calm and assertive, not aggressive or passive.

 

By keeping these tips in mind, you can improve your communication skills and become a more powerful communicator, which can help you build better relationships, achieve your goals, and lead a more fulfilling life.

I you want to learn how to become more confident in life then you can join my weekly mentorship calls and 40+ online workshops at AweBliss.com so you can master your life with more success.

 
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Success Advice

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You’re the manager. You’re the supervisor. You’re the leader. But maybe your people don’t see it that way

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You’re the manager. You’re the supervisor. You’re the leader. But maybe your people don’t see it that way and perhaps that has created a divisive and adversarial working environment that makes it difficult for you to influence and inspire your team in a way that meets your vision. (more…)

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How to Think Like a CEO for Your Future Success

A blueprint for CEOs to draw a disciplined strategy

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Strategic thinking helps CEOs build successful businesses. It helps them establish everlasting enterprises. It is one of the key elements of decision-making. It is different from strategic leadership. It differentiates between leaders from managers.  (more…)

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How to Focus Your Mind on Your Goals in 2023 Constructively

In this world of distractions due to information overload, it has become a big challenge to focus our minds

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In this world of distractions due to information overload, it has become a big challenge to focus our minds on positive aspects and constructive activities. Sometimes we waste our precious time mentally and physically due to distractions arising out of technology. We must understand our priorities and learn how to focus on them religiously. (more…)

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