How a break from social media gave me a breakthrough. The 4 things I learned.

“Can you get off your phone??” The question that inspired this blog post. My wife had recognized a pattern that I hadn’t, and to be honest, was pretty bummed. Subconsciously my phone became like an appendage to me, and at that moment, made me realize I was starting to prioritize it over more important things in my life. The top of that list, my family. Whether it was enjoying my morning cup of coffee after the gym, eating my lunch at a local spot, or over dinner when I came home, I inadvertently developed a bad habit that I had despised; spending my free time on my phone.

Don’t get me wrong, Social media is a powerful tool, even fundamental for business growth as a substantial marketing channel. Being in the eCommerce business, I understand its power as an organic way of marketing yourself or your product. It’s also a good way to keep in touch with family and friends and network with new connections. I found myself taking it beyond that. It wrangled me into a lopsided dysfunctional relationship. There’s “keeping up”, then there’s getting “caught up”. I was caught up.

Where it gets dicey is when it takes a turn and not only consumes your time, energy, but ultimately becomes addicting. My wife’s words resonated deeply with me. So much so, I responded with “fine, I’ll delete my social media!” What was initially an act of defense, became a source of inspiration. I was so motivated and inspired to ‘disconnect’ from the digital world, I deleted my apps immediately. Thus, my journey began. 2 months had gone by in a flurry. So much had transpired beyond my phone, it didn’t really hit me until the whirlwind of text messages began to leak in from general concern due to my social media absence. My favorites were “why are you ghosting” and “are you dead?” lol. The time flew by so fast, I decided to sit down and jot my thoughts from this experience and came away with 4 things I learned from my hiatus. Whether you’re in a similar position, or just curious how I benefited from a break, I can honestly say my break turned into a breakthrough. Here are my 4 takeaways:

  1. Connection. Disconnecting helped me with connecting. Being off social media provided a void in my day where I’d typically get on my phone and “catch up”. Naturally, I had to place that time elsewhere. Instead of investing my time in going through the endless insta-stories, morning posts, or facebook blurbs, I dedicated that time to being present in the moment. I dedicated a portion of my morning to deep, guided meditation and focused on resetting and renewing my mind each morning. This alone was a game changer for me. I noticed a change in my behavior. I was less anxious, more patient, and most importantly, more present. I spent countless hours taking my kids on fun adventures, watching the nuances of their giggles and how their faces crinkle when they belly laugh instead of focusing on getting a ‘boomerang’ or video to put up on my insta-story or making sure we were ‘checked-in’. I finished 5 books, had countless meaningful conversations over the dinner table, and confided into my 5-Minute journal day-in and day-out. I was more connected than ever before.

  2. Control. I had full control. With social media comes a subconscious influence we don’t ever really take into consideration. Whether it be an emotionally charged post from a friend or family member, or deflating news, the entire nucleus of the day can shift simply from browsing your news feed first thing in the morning. When my phone became a second priority, my device and apps had no control over my mood or emotions. I had full control. This also allowed me to run my day by controlling my mindset and not focusing on distractions or how I packaged my day on social media through pics and videos.

  3. Contribution. Time away from my phone naturally gave me time to focus on my values. I noticed more time reflecting and internalizing more on what my ‘purpose’ was in life. Prior to the decision to cut social media, I had already been struggling with how to contribute and serve more in my community, or the world altogether to be honest. One day I jotted what I thought the recipe to that was: Your Gift/Struggle + Others Needs = Your Journey. This led me to teaching business classes at Boise State University, doing Podcasts (and maybe…creating my own…), joining the Treasure Valley Down Syndrome Association, and finally being a Facilitator for the Boise Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. All of this transpired in the 2 months I decided to take a break. I took advantage of my extra time and focused on things I’ve been trying to achieve for years.

  4. Calling. With fulfilling my need for contribution naturally came an understanding of my calling. I feel like I unpacked my mystery, my purpose, what I had felt but didn’t really truly know until I focused my free time on discovering it. Most people know what their calling is early on as it happens naturally. Some are still searching. Or if you’re like me and have a general idea, but need more direction, I asked myself this question; “Why am I here?” You’ll never hear an answer back, however, you can prompt it. Say yes to odd opportunities. Don’t follow others dreams. Blend your talents if you are versatile. Ask others for help. Solve your internal problems and see what it tells you about yourself. And finally, throw your plans out of the window. Don’t let your mind guide you. Let your heart. Do he heartwork!

Life is busy. Our minds are busy. It is the reality we live in. From disconnecting and going “analog”, I was able to connect, control, contribute, and ultimately find my calling. I now live by the 4 C’s as part of my base line values. At the end of the day, it’s a tall order to fully disconnect, and for some, not possible due to their profession or personal situations in life. However, at whatever scale, I encourage a moment of peace and quiet, and to provide others, AND yourself, with the gift of being fully present and watching how that positively affects your life. I also think contribution and serving is the key to a unique and genuine joy that can’t be matched, and if you want to leave a legacy in this world, it is through others and your service to them. What started as a break, became my breakthrough, and I hope I’ve inspired the same for you. Question; is today a good day to get off your phone? Very well may be…