What If Instead of “Busy” This Is Holding You Back

by Alli Polin on March 17, 2016

holding you back

I was catching up with a friend over coffee when suddenly he got quiet and stared into his cup. Whatever was on his mind, he didn’t want to come right out and say it; instead, he decided to beat around the bush.

“What do you do all day?”

“Who works with you?”

Gee, a lot of interest in my business.

Not knowing where he was going, I stayed high level.

“I’m a coach, and I help people have a full life and achieve professional success. They aren’t mutually exclusive.”

Then, I turned the tables. I didn’t want to talk about my work – something was going on with him despite his coyness.

“What do you do all day?”

“Who works with you?”

That’s when it came out.

The feeling of being lost.



“I’m busy, though. Don’t really have time to add anything else to my plate.”

Who was he reassuring? Me?

“But there are some things I want to do and just can’t find the time. It’s hard you know. “

Funny to add that. I didn’t ask; didn’t accuse.

“Why do you think I’m not getting to it. Busy right?” 

Was he asking me?

Like I could possibly know his motivations?

What would fulfill him?

What would make his heart sing when it has been silent for so long?

What was missing and why it mattered?

He was asking me because he wanted to be excused for not trying.

Too hard.

No time.

Too busy.

No funds.

All excuses.

I couldn’t hold back. One question and he was the only person who could answer it – if he was willing to be truthful with himself.

“What if instead of busy, it’s fear?”


Fear you’ll try and fail.

That it will be too much.

Too hard.

You’ll put yourself out there and stagnate.

Or worse.

“It could be that.”

Action is more than what you do, it’s what you don’t do too.

You don’t try; you can’t fail.

You buy into excuses; you justify your life as-is.

He was quiet.

“I want more.”

“So do I,” I echoed.

I offered to help, support, encourage.

“That would be great. When I have the time, I’ll let you know.”

Do you think he’ll call? I don’t.

What conversation are you having with yourself? Is it keeping you where you are or taking you to where you most want to be? More importantly, who you most want to be.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Rhodes March 17, 2016 at 8:01 am


A fantastic look in the mirror. By that I mean I see myself in this conversation. I don’t talk about it much because I also see it as a series of excuses yet I still don’t choose to change it. Thank you again for a thought provoking post.


Alli Polin March 17, 2016 at 8:11 am


Thank you for putting that out there here. I think that most people experience that at one point or another and all of them don’t want to admit the driver behind the excuses. I’ve been there – probably still am too in many ways. Part of being human is having the awareness and courageously stepping forward despite the resistance. Not easy.




Joy Guthrie March 17, 2016 at 8:38 am

The structure of your post is very powerful. The short abrupt sentences make the message extremely clear. Thank you, Alli, for another important message.


Alli Polin March 17, 2016 at 10:50 pm

Thanks. It was how it flowed and needed to be shared. Your feedback means a lot to me. Thank you, Joy!

~ Alli


Chery Gegelman March 18, 2016 at 8:44 am

Thank you for sharing Alli, I think it is interesting that even we we have faced our fears and intentionally left our comfort zones and battled fear, we can still be webbed by it.


Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ March 18, 2016 at 9:58 am

Wonderful post Alli. So many people say I don’t have time. And yet what is inside that drives choices. You prime the pump of introspection and self-awareness with this post.



Julian Sirian March 19, 2016 at 8:28 am

Clever post, and I also agree that in most cases, fear does hold us back from helping us get to where we want to go.

Thanks for posting


Cynthia Bazin March 20, 2016 at 8:16 am

Very cool post Ali. An excellent question for all of us to ask…. about the things we are asking. Are they bringing us positively forward in life or just creating noise? Sharing with my community. Appreciate you my friend!


Gary Gruber March 21, 2016 at 11:57 am

Thanks for another penetrating post. What I continue to be surprised by is people being so screwed up on their understanding and use of time. We all have exactly the same amount and it’s all about choices and the decisions we make about how we use this time, whether this moment or the next several. Those who try to measure success or time by how busy they are or how full their schedule and calendars are may be missing that which is most important, their own sense of themselves and what they care about most. May be time to review priorities and do some re-ordering, IMHO.


Alli Polin March 21, 2016 at 7:28 pm

Thanks for this, Gary. Yes. Busy is not a measure of success, it’s a reflection on time management. I aspire to create a full life and have a robust career – busy just brings stress, overwhelm and more often than not, excuses.

~ Alli


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