Hey there, friend.
Fun little icebreaker question for you:
Have you ever taken a hard look at your habits (and felt like barfing)?
I’ll go first.
I used to scroll through Facebook and Instagram at every possible opportunity. In line at the store? Scrolling. Queueing at the bank? Scrolling. Waiting for my fast food order? Scrolling.
I filled every quiet moment with animal GIFs, "business pornography", self-help articles, and travel updates from my neighbor’s ex-girlfriend’s uncle. You know how it goes.
My thumb and my social apps were in a codependent relationship. Hands up if this is you too. OK, I see a bajillion hands.
To be honest, I didn’t really want to give up my scrolling habits. In fact, I was pretty damn content with my 24/7 social media addiction.
Why would anyone want to quit? It feels good. We watch the next round of Instagram stories, get that little squirt of dopamine, and can’t help going back for more.
That’s why they call it an addiction, after all.
I couldn’t handle even a moment of boredom, so I distracted myself with little scrolling snack breaks—that way, I didn’t have to meet my own thoughts head-on.
But a few years ago, I finally got the kick in the pants that I needed.
And that kick in the pants came from a massive meltdown + my long list of unaccomplished desires:
- write a book
- launch my e-course
- build a tribe of creative entrepreneurs
- launch my coaching practice
- create high-vibe retreats
- meet epic humans (and build epic partnerships)
- gain mastery of my craft
- launch a photography, website and copywriting boutique
- have more quality "me" time and take better care of myself
- to work on passion projects that light me up, even if they don't pay
My list stared me straight in the face and I finally realized that constant distractions were keeping me from investing in the deep work these purpose-driven goals require.
I was so busy squandering my limited mental resources on immediately gratifying distractions (hellooo endless baby panda videos!!!!)...that I wasn’t staying focused on the things that really mattered. Things I said mattered to me.
And it wasn’t just social media that was getting in the way. When I took an honest look at my social calendar, client projects, back-to-back meetings, events, dinners, "can I pick your brains, Dan?" coffee sessions, and weekend activities, I realised my life was completely booked-out.
And then there's the clutter. Both the mental and physical kind. My headspace was cluttered with information-overload and real-life-space was cluttered with clothes I've grown out of (those G-Star cargo pants have got to go!), unfinished books, and gadgets that I barely used. My days were fragmented, noisy, and full of distractions and beckoning lures. There's too much of everything. Yet it didn't feel like the end of this stockpiling was anywhere near in sight. When we have a wardrobe full of too many clothes we don't wear, what do we do? .... we go out and buy some more! Cray cray or not?
In this crazy, fast-paced world we live in, there is an avalanche of noise and baits everywhere we turn. Each moment of our day we have people, commitments, to-do-lists and inboxes demanding something from us. It’s like we live in a constant state of excitement with an adrenaline drip permanently attached to us with the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing flying at us. We get sucked into a stimulation vortex.
But my carrot-loving heart was aching for something deeper. Deeper than vanity likes, launch party FOMO, and comparison-itis.
I decided to stop my frantic habit of filling up my time and life with incessant mindless “snacking.”
I’d fallen into the trap of binging on media, impulse purchases, and a gazillion different subscriptions. And it was time for something to change. It's been a gradual process to wean myself off from mindless consumption in all areas of my life. These days, I practice the mantra of "Enough Is Plenty."
Thence, I've decided to make 2018 my “Year of Depth.”
A year of focusing on value-based content creation, instead of spray-and-pray marketing tactics. A year of drilling down for value and enrichment, instead of fanning out for #allthethings. A year of appreciating everyday ordinary beauty, instead of constantly buying more.
Instead of making a giant bucket list and trying to do more, more, more...I was going to do LESS so I can go DEEPER.
Yeah, sure, I want to travel the world and work from the beach/hipster cafe and sip fancy-pants gin-and-tonics (with cucumber slices ) while riding a rainbow unicorn.
But more than that, I’m craving heart-to-heart conversations with people who are going to light the world on fire. I’m seeking connections and collaborations that bring love, delight, and value to my audience. I’m hell-bent on creating work that matters (and work that I can be proud of).
And this new direction has been a heart-opening experience for me!
Because, with this deeper level of intentionality, I’m blocking off time every day for deep, creative, expansive work. I’m saying NO to invitations that aren’t in alignment with my passion (NO has quickly become my default answer these days). I now have more time, space, and freedom than ever before.
Well, I’m gonna let you in on a secret: it only sounds crazy because we’ve been sold a limited, restrictive, one-way path to success for our entire lives.
Growing up, I saw burnout as a badge of honor. I believed that I could rest (or breathe, celebrate, or focus on my heart-centered priorities, etc.)...after putting in the time. After grinding out twelve-hour days, making it to the next level, and earning exactly one million brownie points. Sleep? What's that? That's for losers. I can sleep all I want when I die.
We don’t feel good if we aren’t busy. We feel like a failure if we’re not running on empty. We’re a tiny bit scared to sit with the quietness of our thoughts. So you say yes to work parties, and overtime, and weekend activities, and the endless noise of notifications…
...even if those things are keeping you from what you really, truly want.
Do you know that our conscious brain (10% of our overall thinking capacity) needs to access our subconscious brain (which governs 90% of our cerebral activity) in order to be creative and to make well-informed decisions? The ‘magic’ happens when we have fewer distractions, we’re feeling relaxed, being more ourselves and, therefore, more open to possibility and inspiration.
If you’re ready to start your own “Year of Depth” and begin to curate a life of purpose, I encourage you to start small.
Here are 7 simple ideas to warm you up and start clearing your life's deck.
- Declutter your wallet/bag (and get a boost in your financial fengshui!).
- Sort through your email inbox, and unsubscribe from everything that doesn’t make you want to do a happy dance. Try Unroll.me for an unsubscribing spree that will allow you to reclaim inbox sanity.
- Clear off your night stand.
- Set aside 20 minutes for quiet thinking time daily. No phones. No distractions. Just you and your thoughts. When was the last time you sat down and thought about your day?
- Detox from your social media feeds, unfollow accounts that dim your brightness, and turn off your phone’s siren-song-notifications.
- Do a smart phone apps purge. Remove apps you haven't used for the past 3 months. Pro tip: Put down your phone and get back to your life with an app like Moment. It shows your phone usage each day – how many minutes you spend on each app and you can also set daily limits on yourself and be notified when you bust that.
- Commit to 8 hours of dreamy sleep, every night.
- These small steps will make room in your life for bigger steps. All that clearing work will make space for the deep work you want to lean into. And, once you’ve created some magical margin in your life, you’ll be ready to take baby bunny leaps towards what you really want.
So, this is my rally cry this year. To go deeper instead of wider. Deeper instead of faster. Deeper instead of busier.
When we give ourselves fewer places to dig, we go deeper, and what we uncover is more rare and valuable than the usual stuff near the surface.
To living deeper,
“Best thing since Tiong Bahru Chwee Kueh!”
- Dan's Grandma
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