Cultivate a Life of Vitality, Pleasure, Passion and Purpose

A Busy Life vs. a Full Life

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If you spend time in the presence of women (especially a group of women and especially at this time of year), you’re sure to hear a medley of “I’m so busy” comments. “There aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done!”; “I have so much to do!”; “I’m not ready for the holidays!”; “I’m swamped with work!”; “I don’t have a minute to breathe!”. They’re all variations of the same thing.

“I’m so busy” has become the mantra of most women. And while we often state is as a complaint, if we’re really honest with ourselves, we also wear it as a badge of honor. “I’m so busy” means, “I’m needed,” “I’m responsible,” “I’m liked/loved,” “I’m important,” and “I’m productive.” And most of all, when we feel the need to remind others of how busy we are, what we’re really trying to say to them is, “My life is full.”

Except that, often, it isn’t.

A busy life is NOT the same thing as a full life. Busyness and the sense of overwhelm and frustration that accompany it do not contribute positively to our life but, rather, detract from it in some pretty major ways.

Let me first define the term “busyness.” But rather than trying to quantify the amount of activity in a busy life, let’s instead define it based on how a busy life feels. Busyness makes us feel





distracted, and sometimes even


A full life, on the other hand, makes us feel

appreciated and appreciative



satisfied, and


We may have just as much to do, but the energy of a full life is very different from that of a busy one. And the difference between them boils down to three things:

How aligned are my actions and my values?

How present am I to what I’m doing?

How effective do I feel?

We can’t possibly feel “full” when we don’t feel aligned, present and effective. When we moving through a slew of activities, yet feel and unsatisfied, that’s busyness. When we feel obligated to complete tasks that we don’t really want to do, that’s busyness. When we feel as if we’re spinning our wheels, but not really getting anywhere or accomplishing much, that’s busyness. And when we feel resentful because we have agreed to do things that aren’t really aligned with what we WANT to do and how we WANT to feel, that’s busyness.

On the other hand, when we’re aligned, present and effective, we can take on the world (and feel great while doing it)! Our choices about how we spend our time are conscious and consistent with what we WANT to be doing. We’re focused on what we’re doing, so we can appreciate more about each experience. We feel excited about the things happening around us and optimistic about how things will turn out. And we feel gratified, knowing that our actions make a difference and that we are contributing something positive to a situation, a person and the world in general. THAT’S what it means to live a full life!

Now, keep in mind, there’s no black or white here. Your life isn’t one or the other…busy or full. It’s a continuum and, at different times, we may find ourselves in a different place. But when the scale of your life tips more toward busy than full, believe me, you know it! You’ll likely recognize the sense of struggle and resentment. You may feel as if you’re fighting to get it all done. Checking off the items on your “to do” list feels more like an uphill climb than a labor of love. That’s the general vibe in the “busy” zone.

When you feel this way (and ‘tis the season when many of us do!), I encourage you to ask yourself the three questions mentioned earlier to determine where the imbalance lies:

How aligned are my actions and my values?

How present am I to what I’m doing?

How effective do I feel?

Be brutally honest here. Only when you identify what’s creating the sense of busyness (being out of alignment with your values, not being present, or feeling ineffective), can you identify the actions you need to take to bring yourself back into balance. (Hint: those actions almost always involves honoring yourself more, making more conscious choices and creating stronger boundaries!)

Sometimes, we become so used to the state of busyness that we forget that there’s another, better way – one that doesn’t deplete us, but rather opens us up to more joy and fulfillment. And the choice is ours. We can become very intentional about how we live. We can honor ourselves. We can refuse to settle for a busy life and we can commit to building a full one!

During this “season of giving”, my wish is that you give yourself this gift!

Have a beautiful holiday and a “full” and blessed New Year,


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