Being Present – One of my key personal goals
I spent much of 2015 launching a business in China, as a result I spent a lot of time there, and when I wasn’t there it felt like I was always on email, we chat, conference calls. One of the things I realized and people made me realize was that even when I was in person, I wasn’t present. I really started realizing this when I starting forgetting important moments that I was a part of – which told me that while I might have been there physically, my mind was somewhere else. Around the same time I realize this was becoming a problem, I also noticed an increase used of social media and other apps on my smart phone. It almost become a routine, a part of my life. I remember one time I was home with my son, after being gone for about a week, and after playing for about 20-30 minutes, I reached for my phone and mindlessly went on twitter. At that moment, I realized there is nothing in the world that was as important as being present at that moment with my son. I spent a lot of time researching this and spoke to a lot of my friends and colleagues and realized it was a pretty rampant problem. There is a ton of information out there, but ultimately it is about what is right for you, your lifestyle, and how you aspire to live.
Here are the changes I made which really worked for me. I feel more in control of my life and attention span, and genuinely feel happier. I didn’t do this all at once, but over a few months as I was monitoring my own behavior and analyzing the pros/cons and benefits.
1. Deleted my facebook account – I was spending a lot of time on Facebook during moments of idle time…taxi rides, airports, etc..I realized it was creating a lot of subconscious noise in my head about a lot of people who were really no longer in my life. If they were in my life, they would be in my life. I know it seems slightly drastic, my friends freaked out, but after a month it was fine. As a result, I only thought of the people who were in my life and I wanted to keep in touch with. I have done better with actively keeping in touch with people, and actually email/phone more, but it will always feel like a WIP. I certainly am missing out in keeping in touch with people and seeing certain updates and pictures, but overall it is been one of the better decisions I have made. If you don’t want to be as extreme as this, another thing a few of my friends have done is to delete the app off of their phone, so they can only access when they are on a computer
2. Deleted twitter off of my phone – I like twitter a lot, and get a lot of my news, info, articles, etc., but I was going on twitter a LOT, almost in a mindless way. I still go on twitter, but only when I am on my computer. I do miss it a bit, but I see how much more present I am in those idle moments, when I could be thinking or relaxing, instead of mindlessly going online to look at something I probably wasn’t even paying that much attention to in the first place
3. Keep my phone in my pocket during meals w/ people – This is a no-brainer, but difficult to execute. I see it around me all the time, and it is annoying. When I go to meals with people I would hope that we could spend the time together, and I realized I wasn’t doing that. My sister and wife brought this up a lot, first it was annoying to them, then they said it was flat out dis-respectful. I would give myself a B right now, but I am getting there. This is a really easy fix, just put your phone in your pocket and don’t look at it tip you are done. Nothing that important is going to happen in that one hour meal, and if you are making plans to eat with people, then eat with people.
4. Phone out of bedroom at night (this is a WIP) – This is something I am vey excited about, and working on. Unfortunately, phones have everything – music, alarms, books, etc…so I had to unwrap all of that out of my phone and take it back to the old school — alarm clock, magazines or kindle (funny that this is old school). I believe this and next point are the key, if you can close your day off without being on your phone and wake up without looking at your phone, you have won 80% of the battle, and can at least have some important time to yourself.
5. Don’t look at phone first thing in the morning (dependent on #4) – This is tough, but I am very much focusing on this. Starting the day without looking at social media, emails, etc…I usually like to go for a run, so to control what I look at is the key. I like to listen to podcasts when I run, and that is what I do, then when I am done and hydrating, I will look at emails. I am trying to get the point where my whole morning from work out to breakfast is without any kind of social media or email.
Thats it — this has helped me a lot, I feel better, lighter, and more in control. I feel pro-active, not re-active. Just like anything you are trying to give up, it is difficult…but the good thing is you can try a one thing at a time….
Would love to hear anything that you might do