The most annoying word in the world for me is the word ‘busy’. I used to wear ‘busy’ as a badge of honour, and erroneously think I was somehow on-purpose, productive, and admired, just because I said I was busy. In fact, I was none of those things. I was kidding myself. I believe the goal should be not to have a full life, but to have a fulfilling one.

You may be wondering what the difference is. Let me use an analogy I hope we can all relate to. That is food! Have you ever been to a buffet or smorgasbord type meal? The all-you-can-eat deal? Before getting there, the thought of eating all you want is an exciting one, isn’t it? As you peruse the offering, you get even more excited as you see the many options available to you and you know you can try all of them. Over the next period of time, you start small, keep going, and progressively work your way through the buffet. By the end of it, how are you feeling? Full? Over full? Stuffed? Regretting the decision to go to a buffet? Vowing never to do it again? All of the above? I have definitely been there, how about you?

On the other hand, have you ever been to a nice restaurant, enjoyed high quality meals, beautifully presented, and just enough that you are fulfilled but not full? Honestly, which did you enjoy most? I know the answer for me. We seem to think more food on the plate is an indication of a great meal. In fact, it is not about the quantity, but more about the quality, right? I hope that helped you get an idea of what I mean by full versus fulfilling.

For many years my life was full. It was over-eating at the buffet type of full. From the moment I opened my eyes at 5am until I put my head on the pillow at 10pm, it was nonstop. I felt I had to fill every moment with something I perceived as being productive, for me to be happy and successful in life. After many years of this kind of bingeing, I felt about my life exactly how I felt after a buffet gorging session. That is sick, exhausted, and regretting my choices. My full life led me to debt, helplessness, disillusionment, and regret.

It was in this moment of desperation, the penny finally dropped, and I realized it was not a full life I craved, it was a fulfilling one. I then had to think about what a fulfilling life meant for me, so I posed a question to myself. Not the normal question so many people ask which is, what am I going to do now? The question I asked myself was, how do I want to live? Wow, this question certainly unlocked some magic in my life! I started visualising a life where I felt strong and confident, a life where I was having a positive impact on others, a life where I woke every day excited for what was to come, and a life where I had time and money. I imagined a life which wasn’t full, instead it was fulfilling.

I fixed my eyes and my heart on this life, I started writing my first book, I looked for ways to impact lives, and create time and money, and I fashioned the fulfilling life I visualised, and have been loving it for almost 20 years as I write this. The difference between these two lives is that one was full, the other is fulfilling. One was overwhelming, exhausting, and frustrating, the other is meaningful, peaceful, and exciting. In one, I had no time for the most important things, in the other I get to spend my time doing the things most meaningful with the people I love and respect the most. Can you see the difference?

So, you may be asking how do I shift from a full life to a fulfilling one? I think the first step is to ask yourself the question, how do I want to live? And then, answer it in writing. I found that when I had clarity about how I wanted to live, ideas, opportunities, and people came to me to help me turn that vision into a reality. To help you with this, I recommend listening to my podcast this week with Sue Wong and Justin Robinson called A life chosen. In it we talk about their new book, soon to be released, called My Manifesto; A compassionate guide to reveal your best life. This is the first step to living a fulfilling life.

So, before you fill up your plate at the next buffet, think very carefully about how you will feel when the meal is over. In the same way, think very carefully before filling every moment of your life with things that will cause you to declare that you are ‘busy’. How will you feel about that full life in the next month, year, ten years, and beyond? Do you really want a full life, or would you prefer a fulfilling one? If the answer to that question is the latter, please get to work on it today. Reach out if you need any help.