What I Learned the Week I Unplugged

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About two weeks ago, I took a different direction in my professional life and resigned from the job I’d dedicated my entire adult career (10+ years) to. It was an extremely tough decision, but one I felt I needed to make in order to stay vigilant in pursuing my dreams and goals.

Although this is another subject for another time (or post), what resulted from this action was really eye opening and life altering.  I turned in my computer and phone and suddenly lost touch with the world, or did I?

I was trapped and didn’t know it.

My day revolved around these two devices.  Phone calls, tweets, texts, Facebook messages, emails, emails, and more worthless emails filled my day from the early morning hours until hitting the pillow at night.  I didn’t realize how disastrous this was until I literally couldn’t do it anymore.  I needed to dry out from technology.

It was exactly the therapy I needed.  I was addicted.

Maybe I’m still addicted, but I can see it more clearly now.  Ironically enough, I was reading a book a week or two ago discussing the topic of boredom.  The author described in great detail how people today (mainly younger adults and children) have no concept of boredom because they just plug into another device just when the B-word sets in.  This rampant activity causes our brains to operate on overdrive 95% of the time and provides little to no rest.  We need rest.

It doesn’t shock me one bit to see the #1 growing diagnosis among strung out teens and young adults is anxiety.  We can’t let go of technology until we’re forced to for FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

Well I missed out.  I missed out on 10 days of…

NOTHING.  I didn’t miss a damn thing, and I’m a better person for it.  If people needed to get a hold of me, they texted my wife.  How cool is that?  They actually couldn’t get a hold of me.  Sad news is, I’m back now with a phone and a computer, but I’ve got to tell you what I’ve learned in the process.

  1. I’m not that important.  Yes, I technically don’t have a job at this very moment, so I don’t have those responsibilities, but life went on for everyone else.
  2. Silence is beautiful.  I was trying to remember the last time I just sat and thought.  It’s been too long.  Can you tell me the last time you spent 30 minutes in silence just thinking?
  3. I was neglecting myself.  I was able to catch up on reading I wanted to tackle, blog posts I wanted to write, and knocking down jump shots in the gym (basketball was always my sanctuary growing up).
  4. Anxiety was running my life.  Not from a clinical standpoint, but I was always on alert for the next thing: text, email, phone call, etc. that needed to be responded to.  Ready, ready, ready, and…exhausted.
  5. I’m in control.  The last couple weeks I’ve had entire days to myself.  I made the decisions on what to read, when to exercise, and yes, when I wanted to take a nap (although my wife says I should’ve done more of this). It’s always been my schedule.  I just let others dictate it.
  6. Scheduled downtime.  Now that I’m a recovering information junkie, I’m learning to schedule my downtime.  I’m working on not jumping right into technology in the morning and taking breaks throughout the day to recharge (albeit briefly), so I can be the best version of myself.

ACTION ITEM: I was so excited to share this with the tribe.  I really hope you can take a few days, maybe even a week away from everything.  Some say, that’s why God made Mexico, but I’d like to see you do it while at home and take the challenge head on.  I bet you will find a little more of yourself in the process.

Lastly, it would provide me a great deal of pleasure if you would comment on your experiences below.  This is only my opinion, and I’m sure there are tremendous amounts of knowledge to be shared from the community of readers out there.

Thank you,
Zac

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9 thoughts on “What I Learned the Week I Unplugged

  1. Can’t wait to see where your new path is going to lead you! With your talents and abilities success is assured.

  2. I find myself doing the exact same thing….waiting for the next email, text or call. It is addicting. I find myself always checking my email and it consumes so much of my day. Every once in a while I forget to grab my phone going out the door and I realize how much more peaceful it is without it. My brain is always on overdrive and the only way to make it rest is to read a book or watch tv. Unfortunately, I get most of my critical thinking done at night when I should be sleeping. It’s quiet and my phone is on silent while I’m laying in bed. By the way, congrats on the resignation! I took that leap back in March and resigned to start my own business. It took a lot of guts to do it but I know in the long run the journey will pay off. It is stressful at times but you have to keep moving forward and learning along the way and not look back. If you are willing to put the work in and do things you never thought you could do everything will work out in the end and you will be successful. By the way, I am looking for some key people to get up and running. If you are interested in hearing what I am doing and think it may be a good fit shoot me an email and we will talk some more! Keep the posts coming!

    -Gerald

    • Thank you for the contribution Gerald! I don’t think your struggle is unique to just you. Have you tried meditation before hitting the pillow at night? If not, I highly recommend it as its done wonders for my restless mind and sleep pattern. It helps me calm a racing mind and relax so I can recharge the way we’re meant to recharge at night.

      Secondly, I really appreciate the words of inspiration. Great feedback from someone who’s been there. Fortunately, I’ve got an opportunity lined up to begin on January 12th. In the meantime keep at it and keep in touch!

  3. Congratulations Zac. I had learned that the uber-connected lifestyle is a killer. I am in the process of downsizing and going off-grid. I just recently remembered one of the first things I learned in business … work harder on yourself than you do on your job. I look forward to hearing more as you progress on the journey.

  4. Great insight Zac, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m curious to what books you’ve caught up on that you’d recommend?

    • Thanks Joe. There have been a couple. One is called, “Essentialism. I’ve got an upcoming post about that one. Another is “MONEY: Mastering the Game” by Tony Robbins. I also dug up a couple I’ve already read because I think they are just some great reminders. They are: The Last Lecture & Quiet Strength (by Tony Dungy). Anything you think I need to read?

      • Thanks for the suggestions, I’m on a bit of a losing streak in choosing good books lately. Our old friend Charlie Roszko recommended “The Price of Silence” about the Duke lacrosse scandal, but I’ve not read it yet.

        • I’m with ya man. I’m really considering diving into a few of the tried and true “classics” because I either: never read them in high school, or I wasn’t paying enough attention at the time to understand why they were great. We’ll see.

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