The average American spends a whopping 10 hours and 39 minutes a day looking at some kind of screen (source)… whether that’s TV, laptop, tablet or mobile.
Social media alone eats up 30% of that time…
We’re so connected all the time that it’s almost become an addiction, and running out of battery has become a “freak out” moment, as if a vital oxygen supply has been cut.
And in a way, it has — the lifeline to the most endless source of entertainment, distraction in human history.
Believe me, I’m not an exception.
As an online entrepreneur, I’m on my computer by 8am every morning, sometimes earlier…
Most of the time, I love it. I truly do.
It’s an incredible gift to have the freedom to do what I love every single day, while changing the world from my living room or wherever else I want to be… right now, I’m writing this from the beautiful Gracia neighborhood of Barcelona.
But, as they say, “everything in moderation.”
That’s why, on May 17, I decided to conduct a little experiment. I decided to completely disconnect from everything for 6 full days.
In preparation, the night before, I actually shut down my laptop for the first time in living memory, and had Murray turn off all of the notifications on my phone. No email, no Slack, no Voxer, no text messages, no voicemails, no calendar notifications and no Facebook…
I knew that the next morning, habit would try its hardest to kick in, and I knew I had to be prepared.
So what happened?
I had a bunch of realizations that I’d like to share with you.
First, without the artificial pressure of the outside world pushing me, I finally had the space to process a little.
I realized that every cell in my body craved some downtime to process and integrate everything that’s happened in the last 6 years since we started our business.
While who I am is very much the same after 6 years, my life looks radically different:
- I’m married to my best friend and business partner.
- Together we run a multi-million dollar business with a team of 20.
- I’m a teacher and mentor to thousands of students around the world. I have a client list of people who inspire me that I used to learn from.
- And I genuinely believe that anything is possible.
It’s been a wild ride. It definitely hasn’t been easy, but it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done in my life, and my experience with playing a bigger game and taking a stand for other people’s greatness, is that I’m exposed to the extremes of what’s possible in the range of human experience.
On the one hand, I get to spend the majority of my time feeling completely alive, aligned and in my genius zone. And on the other hand, sometimes I’m faced with the shadow cast by the edge of my comfort zone. As well as the judgment, misunderstanding and blame that sometimes comes with the commitment I’ve made to truth, honesty and self-expression.
I recently learned that there’s a difference between being nice and being kind. Being nice is telling people what they want to hear. While genuine kindness is about taking a stand for someone’s greatness and being willing to tell them what no one else will say.
Most of the time, my commitment to honesty and kindness pays off… as I tend to challenge assumptions in my work and empower people to be more, do more, feel more and receive more in their lives and business.
Just a couple days ago I gave a talk at Mindvalley U. and someone walked up to me at the end and said, “You’ve changed my life.” It’s simple moments like these that make all the hard work worthwhile… And it’s moments like these that give me strength to handle the moments of judgment, misunderstanding and blame.
Second, keep expanding…
What I’ve realized after training thousands of students is that some people experience contraction after a big expansion. If you’re not used to being and feeling so much, it’s easy to shut down, blame or complain when you’re stretched beyond what you’ve learned how to receive.
While most people can work through those feelings. Some do not.
After all, it takes time to expand your capacity to receive love, abundance and happiness. To choose fortune and ease, over misfortune and struggle.
And this expansion isn’t always a comfortable process.
So along the way, I’ve learned that I can be responsible to people, but I can’t be responsible for them.
But sometimes it still hurts when I face judgment, misunderstanding or blame.
Third, I allowed myself time to grieve the mistakes…
Sometimes I need time to grieve the mistakes I’ve made. The students who weren’t able to receive the gifts I’ve given. And the relationships and parts of my identity that no longer serve the next level of growth.
I also need to time to rest and rejuvenate. To give myself the time and space to create the next level of thinking and being. Afterall, creativity happens when the brain has time to relax, reflect and talk to itself. And my best new work comes after periods of rest.
So that’s what 6-days away from all my devices gave me the time and space to do, along with time to sleep, eat and be merry of course
I’m just embarrassed it took me so long to take this time for myself.
My big conclusion from this time away?
I need to unplug more often. My success and my business depends as much on the moments I spend offline as the moments I spend online.
So how often is enough?
That’s up to you, of course… as for me, I’m going to start with unplugging:
• one day a week
• one weekend a month
• and two full weeks a year
During those times, I plan to make a clear choice: is this an online day or an offline day?
Then respect that choice… so I can give myself time to process and integrate everything that’s happened and make the space to keep expanding and growing beyond the limits I imagine
So let me ask you: when do you unplug?
Let me know in the comments.