I received a message from a contact a couple days ago, which caused me to stop and think how often and easily entrepreneurs, and most people for that matter, fall into the trap of “being busy”.
This person left a message telling me how much they wanted to connect yet they described their experience by using words like “slammed,” and phrases like “I’m so frickin’ busy.” They then went on to justify why they felt “overwhelmed” and then supported their position with a long list of all of the work they had to do and how many emails they had to respond to.
I was curious as to why they felt compelled to go to such great lengths to share all of this with me.
I’ve also noticed that I hear this far more often from entrepreneurs and small business owners and interested as to why more from them and not as much from my corporate business clients, who have just as much, if not more on their plate.
Yes, it is true that entrepreneurs are required to wear many different hats and they don’t always have the same infrastructure or level of support that someone in a larger business might enjoy.
And yet it seems like, as entrepreneurs, we often tell others how busy we in order are to justify our worth to ourselves, and those around us. Do we say it because it causes us to feel more important or is it an attempt to prove our self worth?
Regardless, here’s the danger. The word, or label, you put on your experience often tends to become your experience. The more dramatic or graphic the word, the stronger or more enhanced your emotional response becomes.
This has been referred to as transformational grammar or transformational vocabulary and studies show that if you change the word or label you use to represent your experience, you change the corresponding emotional feeling you experience.
Lets assume you are a very busy person and you want to let others know that now is not a good time to add anything to your to-do list. You can still accomplish this and do it without causing your brain to take on the added negative stress and emotional response that it equates to labels you might use like busy, overwhelm or stressed.
To reduce the intensity of your emotional response to these words, imagine if you were to replace them with words that were less intense and elicited a more positive response than that of the more negative association or description.
What if . . . instead of using the words like busy, overwhelmed or stressed, you replaced them with a word that has a softer or a more positive association or feeling like the word ‘popular?’
Instead of saying, “I’m too busy,” which your brain attempts to prove is true and creates a corresponding negative feeling for you, what if you were to say, “I’d love to contribute and I’m a smidge popular right now, can this wait?”
Can you feel the difference? By communicating that you are popular you are still letting others around you know that you may not have the bandwidth to add more responsibilities right now without causing you to feel worse.
The difference is that your brain will likely have a more positive association to being popular than it would to being overwhelmed. The corresponding feeling you experience is less likely to trigger more even anxiety and stress than you already have. Have some fun with this ad give it a try.
There is another important point to understand:
You almost always have time for things that you feel are important enough. You might say you are too busy because you don’t feel that a request being made of you is as important as what you need or want to do, or what you’re doing already.
If someone asks for help or assistance you often have to decide if you really want to do it or not. You also evaluate if you have other things to do that you feel are a higher priority for you to accomplish instead.
You are constantly making these choices based on the value or weighing the importance or how relevant it is to you and your current needs or wants.
As an entrepreneur it’s very important to eliminate spending time on the pressing and urgent activities that you could be doing and focus on doing what holds the most importance. Never mistake getting caught up in activities, or being busy, for actually producing desired results and outcomes.
For greater success you must focus on your highest priority or highest income producing activities. This also demonstrates the importance and power of delegation or outsourcing. Find someone to focus and the lower income producing tasks that could be taking you away from focusing on your higher income producing projects.
You always have time for something that is very important to you. Your priorities will change when you change how you represent how important they are to you.
If you or a loved one were to get in an accident, all of a sudden that important business meeting or Facebook post quickly drops in value, priority and importance. You are the only one in charge of determining what is and isn’t important to you and therefor what you focus your time and effort on.
I remember about 15 years ago when my wife and I were to leave on an annual 10-day houseboat trip on beautiful Lake Powell with a few other close friends. I had a lot on my plate at the time so I called my friends just two days before we were supposed to leave and told them I was too busy to get away and needed to cancel to focus on my business.
What’s interesting is that the Universe decided to teach me an important lesson.
Two days later, while visiting one of our investment properties, I completely severed my Achilles tendon. It required surgery the next day to reattach the tendon so I ended up in a cast and I was completely out of commission and away from my work for the next two weeks.
My wife Dallyce shared a quote with me a while back that she clipped out of a magazine. The quote was “Be the person you were to lazy to be yesterday.”
Now it may be true for some but most solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t really have the luxury of being lazy.
One thing I have noticed however is we definitely have the tendency to fall into the trap of being too busy.
So I took the liberty to change the quote to be more fitting and I also task you to take this to heart as you gage the importance of your time, efforts and decisions in the future. Here is your challenge:
“Become the person you were too busy to be yesterday!”