Being busy is all the rage, especially in London. If your social life isn’t crammed full of catch ups, trips away and parties and if your work isn’t filled with new opportunities and endless task lists, then you’re falling behind in life. Or at least, that’s what we tell ourselves. Yes, being busy makes us feel like we’re going somewhere; that we’re cruising in the fast lane. But think for a moment. Is your life filled with things that you actually like doing? Things that you would genuinely choose to do if this week was your last week on earth?
How to edit your life
It’s so easy to fill up our lives with things we aren’t that enthusiastic about but feel like we should do anyway. That social we get invited to by a friend of a friend that we sort of know. Those after work drinks that we’d rather skip. That catch up that you aren’t super excited about but feel like it’s long overdue. That extra job you took on because you just said yes in the moment despite not having time. Take a step back and have a good, long, honest look at everything going on in your life right now. Make a list. What things could you happily scratch out, and what things fill you with excitement? Scratch out anything that you’re not screaming YES to, and see how it feels. Watch what comes up. Is it guilt? Sadness? Relief? Tune into those feelings and then let them go. What you want to be left with, is a list of things that you are excited about doing; things that fill you with joy. If your list is looking a little bare after your edit, maybe it’s time to start working out what makes you happy, and doing more of those things.
Filling a void
Sometimes we can fill our lives with endless social or work related activities that make us feel like we’re keeping up with everyone else. But having so much going on in your life doesn’t leave much room to just be with yourself. To enjoy your own company, try new things you’ve always wanted to do, or just take a step back and check in with how you’re actually feeling. When you give yourself space to just be alone, it can often feel really weird, especially if you’re used to constantly being on the go or with lots of other people. Try taking a day every once in a while for yourself, and not filling it with things you’d normally be doing, or creating a to-do-list for yourself. Observe how you feel – this can be done through journaling, meditation, mindfulness, whatever form of observation and reflection you feel comfortable with. How do you feel? Are you happy with your life right now? What does it feel like to just do nothing, to just be in your own company? It’s not unusual for feelings like uneasiness, loneliness, fear or boredom to creep in here, so watch what comes up for you. Sometimes we can fill lives up with so much (including material things) because what we are filling is a void, a feeling of lack that we just don’t want to acknowledge. Use these downtime days as a way to connect back to you, practice self-care and observe if there’s an underlying reason to your constant busyness.
The dreaded burn out
Chances are, if you’re a busy person, you’ve already experienced burnout at least once in your life. Let me tell you, it’s not a pretty picture. Tiredness, overwhelm, fatigue, emotions running high…yes, the dreaded burn out likes to slowly creep up on us when we think we are absolutely nailing life. The trick is, to become more aware of the choices that you make before you choose them, and to check in with yourself on a regular basis so that you can notice if you are in danger of reaching burnout phase before it happens. This is why downtime days are absolutely crucial, otherwise you simply won’t have the time and space to notice how you’re feeling in yourself. Start to pencil in your downtime days and treat them as non-negotiables. Practice self-care, and find ways to self soothe that work for you, such as reading a book, taking a long bath, going on solo walks in nature, pottering about the house, taking a yoga class, meditation or making some delicious home cooked, nourishing food.
Learning to say no
This is a big one, and something I personally struggled with until I learned just how important it is. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t necessarily enjoy because we have a responsibility, for example things relating to family or our jobs, and by all means I believe that we should step up when we need to. But I’m not talking about these kinds of things. I’m talking about those times when we say yes to something that we know we shouldn’t have said yes to. That catch-up with a friend that always leaves us feeling negative and drained, but we feel we should go to. That trip we reluctantly said yes to even though it would cripple our bank balance and we’d much rather give it a miss. Or that invitation we aren’t really bothered about, but we say okay to even though we’d rather just go home and unwind. It’s these little things that add up to a great deal of unexciting activities going on in our lives that we feel “meh” about. Go back to part one, where we edited our lives, and work out what things you can happily check off. Then, it’s time to practice the art of saying no. This can feel incredibly guilt-ridden and awkward at first, especially if you’re a perpetual yes-person or people pleaser, but the more you practice saying no, in a kind but honest way, the more you align with your truth. And the more aligned you are with your truth, the more space you make for things that you actually want to do, things that actually fill your stomach with excitement, to come into your life.