control yourself: how to avoid needing a digital detox

I am a social media junkie and I love blogging, but I am also a bit of a hippie and I realize the power of shutting down and shutting off. A vacation where there ends up being no wi-fi, a day where you accidentally leave your cell phone uncharged and have 4% to make it through the day, and coffee shops without wi-fi are, in my opinion, gifts more so than ways to ruin a perfectly good, screen-filled day. I have noticed that there seems to be a lot of talk about the way our devices are hurting us. People, myself included, talk about how it can be stressful to be “always on” and how there are now very few jobs where you can simply work from 9 to 5 and leave things at an office. But I don’t think this is such a bad thing.

no interwebs

What I see happening is a lot of people blaming technology for issues of their own control. As I see it, I can turn off my cell phone and shut down my computer. Sure, employers might require us to perform certain duties with our cell phones, but for most of us we can set boundaries for ourselves and spend a lot less time than we do on our devices without failing to do what’s required of us.

internet water joke

Digital detoxes are all the rage, but I felt particularly grateful for technology today when I was able to coach someone who is all the way on the other side of the world. According to google maps, it would take me 23 hours and 25 minutes to fly to her, but thanks to Skype, we could bridge the 13 hour time gap and get down to coaching business. That’s pretty cool, right? Yesterday, I got to message back and forth with my best friend in the whole wide world who is currently on the other side of that world as well—Saudi Arabia is a little far for me to show up for girl talk in person. When I got snowed in yesterday, I could still work on my thesis because I have digital copies of most of my references. Today I got sucked into some chores around the house and was feeling unproductive when I realized that I was being very productive—I listened to a great podcast and ended up in a much better mood as a result. Technology is doing me well!

But there is the constant temptation of going on facebook while I should be writing, or the way that sometimes I can let in-person friendships slide because I’m spending extra time on the interwebs. And there’s Cupcake Mania. I see kidlets playing with iPads all the time and I wonder what they’re going to be like if they never play with other kids. So I do see the side where technology is a time suck and ruining our lives.

But I believe that we are in charge of our lives and we don’t have to be slaves to anything—let alone to something that can be such a positive force! So before you swear off technology and start acting like a wi-fi signal will give you cancer, I have a few tips for how to handle technology in a way that maximizes its benefits and keeps it from running your life.

  1. Simplify your stuff. Don’t download podcasts that you don’t want to listen to. Turn off the subscriptions to endless newsletters and coupons. Delete the people who rub you the wrong way on your social media. You are the gatekeeper of what makes its way onto your phone, your inbox, and into your life—make a point of filling your technology with the things that you actually use and that make your life better.
  2. Use airplane mode. Or anything that limits the temptation for you but keeps you as reachable as you need to be. I can turn my phone on airplane mode and be fairly certain the world will not fall down—I don’t have a child, a dog, or a chinchilla depending on me so most things can wait an hour while I do productive things. There are settings that block disturbances and ones that only let certain people reach you. Use them! The simple requirement of turning off the airplane mode—and demonstrating that you have 0 self control—should be enough to keep you off of Boom Beach for long enough to do something worthwhile.
  3. Share what’s worth sharing. Some people criticize the way that others use facebook and other social media to highlight the good things and hide the not so good things. I think social media can be a great place to discuss the issues that are important to us, but I feel better when I use it for the most part to stay positive. When I think about what I want to put out into the world, two things come to mind: authenticity and positivity. I want to be an encourager, so I try my best to stay out of pointless debates on twitter and to share things that lift me up in the hopes of being a little bright spot on someone’s newsfeed.
  4. Beware of the nerd safari. Do you ever find yourself reading link after link or watching video after video and simply getting lost in things you don’t remember even being interested in? This is perhaps a good way to expose yourself to new things, but with all the information in the world available online and with all the pointless things that seem to be floating around, choose what you consume wisely. I try to check in with myself and see if what I’m reading or listening to would be worth paying for (here’s hoping you stick around for the rest of my post!).
  5. Keep your guilty pleasures as pleasures. We can get into a trap of overdoing just about anything and I think technology falls into the same category as food or alcohol or TV-watching or just about anything that is okay in moderation but that can ruin us if we overdo it. I love Cupcake Mania, and I appreciate the built-in self control that comes with only getting 5 lives in it at a time. If I played it all the time, I would be losing too much time to it for it to be a pleasure. Giving myself a break to play a pointless game once a day or so is sort of like letting yourself have dessert—it’s a treat that way. But just like eating cake for breakfast lunch and dinner would sort of make it lose its luster, so would matching up coloured cupcakes if I did it all the time.

Think of controlling your technology use as a great opportunity to develop and hone your self-control. Think of the sense of control you’ll have over your life if you are the one who runs the technology instead of letting it run you. I can guarantee that a digital detox—is a short-term solution. Technology is a fact of life and we are far better off to get to work building long-term habits that help us make it a positive part of our day-to-day existence. Good luck!

Self control? This guy's got lots of it!

Self control? This guy’s got lots of it!

Do you feel bogged down by technology?
How do you manage your tech?
Have you ever done a digital detox?

 

 

on the right foot: questions and appreciation

a life lesson, a coaching gem, some insight from my own experiences, a question to get you thinking–what better day than monday for a positive post?

So, I have myself a stress fracture.

Whomp whomp.

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The doctor’s orders are as follows: Take 4 to 6 weeks off of anything weight bearing. If it hurts to walk, I’m supposed to use crutches. I might be in denial, but I think it’s starting to get better. When I don’t have pain, ease back into activity (starting with 30 seconds of running alternating with 4.5 minutes of walking for 30 minutes total). Eat a healthy diet to promote healing. Don’t throw a shit fit.

I added that last part, but it’s mostly a joke. I threw myself a one evening pity party (in the form of crying for a bit, blogging, reading magazines, and ignoring my cell phone) and then decided that it was time to call in my appreciator, which I introduced in a post last month.

Coaching yourself can sometimes be a lost cause, but I did come up with some questions to help me move from the “my life is over” perspective into a more empowering place. Naturally, I included my word vomit insight.

What’s the gift in this situation? or What’s possible as a result of this situation?

I’m going back to school in approximately a week, which means that the more time I have to get my shit together organized, the better. On that note, not being able to work out as much as I’d like to (I can’t fathom swimming as often as I’ve been going to CrossFit, doing yoga, running, and biking, etc.) means I’ll need to find other ways to use my energy and other ways to fill myself up (exercise is my happy time). On my list of options? Journaling, reading, baking, cooking, writing letters and cards to friends, making a vision board, learning to knit (attempt #4) and playing my violin.

Another gift is a break from training that will give me the time to reassess where I’m at. This summer was a whirlwind in terms of what I was training for and how I was exercising—from CrossFit to soccer to yoga to running to kind of training for triathlon to going on my Outward Bound trip—and to be honest I’m a bit overwhelmed with what I should be doing and more importantly, what I want to do. This is sort of like a chance to start over. I very well might come back and instead of trying to maintain 20 different activities just be able to add in the ones that I really want to.

Getting hurt and being out of the gym also provided me with the insight that I wrote about last week in terms of looking at my self esteem in a different way–and that’s a pretty big deal!

The timing’s also something I’m grateful for—thank goodness this didn’t happen before my trip to North Carolina, which would probably have meant I couldn’t go.

What’s the lesson in this situation?

I’m learning that my body can only take so much and that overdoing it will eventually wear me down. I have managed to stay pretty lucky in regards to injuries even when I was exercising compulsively, but this is a big reminder to take care of myself. Along with making sure that I’m training in a healthy and sustainable way, this is a really good time to make sure I’m giving my body the nutrition it needs.

Who can I become as a result of this situation?

I’m becoming a cranky bitch for the next 6 weeks smarter athlete. I’m becoming more patient. I’m developing an appreciation for the ability of my body to heal. I’m becoming a stronger person mentally and emotionally. I’m becoming more dedicated to taking care of myself.

This is the kind of work that helps me get through things that bum me out and is the fastest way for me to start to get over it and see the bigger picture. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, 4 to 6 weeks is not a big deal, even if I am bummed that I can’t do Tough Mudder. In reality, this is a little thing–stress fractures suck but they heal on their own.

this too shall pass

I saw a woman in a wheelchair not too long after I left the doctor–instant perspective. I spent the weekend with friends who I haven’t seen as much of as I’d like to this summer because a friend of mine received health news last week that reminded me that we can’t take our health for granted and that life isn’t always fair and health doesn’t always make sense.

And if self coaching myself with some powerful questions doesn’t work, I’ve always got music that kind of goes with the theme.

Have you ever had a stress fracture?
How do you deal with things that bum you out?

think about it: perspectives on self esteem

On my plane ride home last week, I picked up the latest issue of Scientific American Mind (yes, I am this nerdy). In it was one article (you can read part of it online) entitled “Self Esteem Can Be an Ego Trap,” which got me thinking. The gist of the article is, as the summary says:

  • “Having high self-esteem has a few modest benefits, but it can produce problems and is mostly irrelevant for success.
  • The pursuit of self-esteem through a focus on greatness makes us emotionally vulnerable to life’s disappointments—and can even lower our chances of success.”

Fair enough. Something that I’ve done a lot of thinking, reading, and writing about is self esteem and how to improve it. The first limiting the belief where I had a “holy shit, no wonder things are like this” moment was one around not being good enough–a red flag that my self esteem needed some work. For the last while, I’ve told myself that self esteem comes from being successful at things that challenge us. I can remember deciding that I needed to start proving to myself that I can achieve things in order to build up my self esteem.

I’m starting to reconsider that perspective.

Red flag: proving.

Truth: Self worth is inherent. You deserve to feel good about yourself whether you get out of bed and put pants on in the morning or not. This is an idea I keep coming back to and one that I remind myself and others of regularly. 

If you read my post on Monday, you might remember that I’ve been trying to rest and figure out a foot injury since the beginning of the month. Turns out it’s a stress fracture. If you know me at all, you know that sitting still isn’t my forte and that I like to do lots of things that involve sweating and using my foot. Naturally, not being able to do them is a big ol’ bummer.

But beyond just being disappointed that I can’t run or do yoga or CrossFit or whatever the way I’d like to, I’ve also noticed something bigger going on with my emotions in the midst of all this: I’m feeling worthless (or at least not optimally worthy). It looks like this: not thinking that I “deserve” to eat dessert since I’m not working out, not feeling like I’ve accomplished enough in a day and thinking that since I can’t work out, I should be way more productive, not bothering to take care of myself in other ways (putting off things like painting my chipped nails or folding my laundry, etc.). It feels like this: crappy. And that old perspective on self esteem is what was driving the whole mess.

Realizing that I’d like to feel good about myself regardless of whether or not I’m succeeding or failing is kind of a big deal. Great success requires being brave enough to take on challenges. What comes with taking on challenges is failure. When we’re striving for a new level, we’re stretching ourselves. If we’re not failing, we’re not trying hard enough. If I want to be excellent, there’s no room for letting my failures (or successes) dictate how I feel about myself at the core.

Like the article says, self esteem based on success is fragile. I’d also argue that if your self esteem is situational, it can be fleeting. I wrote about how we can get caught up in if only thinking and chase one thing after the next after the next to no end in that post on Monday–and the same thing applies here. From one thing to the next, when will it be enough?

The article has its own suggestions about what a better option for building self esteem might be, namely compassion: “Compassion, along with a less self-centered perspective, can motivate us to achieve while helping us weather bad news, learn from our mistakes and fortify our friendships.” While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with focusing on yourself or putting yourself first, I think this suggestion is just a nicer way to tell people to get over themselves, which sounds like a good first step. The article also points to using values instead of failure and success as a way to measure our worth. I agree wholeheartedly and think that the best way to look at this all is to consider the question, in true coactive coaching style, “who am I being?”

If we are in touch with our values and what we stand for in the world, we have a way of measuring how we’re doing–and good way to build up our self esteem. Sure, we might still see ourselves in negative light, but if we’re disappointed with ourselves for failing to honour a value, that’s the kind of feedback that we need in order to course correct and become a more fully expressed version of our most authentic self.

yup yup

I’m aware that this might be “out there” for some people. We tend to focus on the doing (the “active” in “coactive”) but in this situation, a little shift back to the being (“co”) is worth a shot.  Being asked who you’re being in the world can be different. Thinking about who you want to be in the world can be revolutionary.

What do you base self esteem on?
Who do you want to be in the world?

on the right foot: shit storms and silver linings

a life lesson, a coaching gem, a question to get you thinking–what better day than monday for a positive post?

Today, I’m going to share a coaching tool that I picked up that’s been helping me in my personal life a whole lot lately as well as a big insight that’s come up for me recently.

In coaching, we call upon clients to access their “Appreciator”:

“The Appreciator is your inner authority that appreciates everything, the dark and the light, the wins and the losses, and the failures and successes, all without judgment. Everyone has access to their personal Appreciator, but accessing it is a choice.”

If it sounds like a cute way to remind people to look for silver linings, you’re right. Drawing out and calling upon the appreciator is a conscious choice to take an empowering perspective on whatever situation you’re in and can thus be powerful stuff.

silver lining 1

Last week was a bit of a shit storm for me. With lots going on (packing up and making the trek to my cousin’s wedding over the weekend, getting my things together for my trip to North Carolina tomorrow, and trying to keep up all the training and writing and normal things I do plus my coaching, working at GFC, and finishing my article for Canadian Cycling Magazine), a couple of poopy things happened that were kind of the icing on a knock me on my arse cake. I won’t go into details (you can guess how personal they must be if I’m not willing to put them out there) but from having a bag filled with almost $200 of brand new gear for my trip go missing (stolen?) within an hour of buying it to some family stuff, my week was filled with things that stressed me out.

Luckily, in the midst of the shit storm that was last week, I found myself drawing on my appreciator. Doing so started out as a “how can I make this less shitty?” attempt (which led to jokes and a bit of ease) and then led to a pretty big realization.

As much as I wanted to beat myself up for buying ice cream or for wanting to eat all the chocolate in my apartment (and I will admit that I did turn to food a bit for comfort), I recognized in the process that I was entirely capable of taking care of myself—even in a really overwhelming situation. I was choosing to use food as comfort just like I could choose to use my journal, talking to a friend, or blogging—things that I then started opting for instead.

When I was journaling, I wrote down, “The world is conspiring against me.” I made jokes about how if I had a kitten, it would probably die. Not funny and certainly not empowering.

Bringing in more of my appreciator, something big dawned on me. Rather than thinking that the world was out to get me, I could choose a positive perspective. What if the world is “conspiring” in a different way?

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 10.58.50 PM

Sure, conspiring typically connotes a bad outcome. But that it’s “typical” suggests that there’s an another alternative, albeit a weird option! What came into my mind was the notion that the world could just as easily be conspiring to serve me in a big way. I changed “The world is conspiring against me,” to “The world is conspiring to serve my greatest good,” and got on with things.

I looked at the beauty in being slammed with a bunch of stressful things all at once and not crumbling.

I’ve spent a lot of time working on beliefs about success being scary. The number of ways I’ve held back and haven’t let myself be as wildly successful as I know I’m capable of in an attempt to keep myself safe makes me sad. Realizing, though, that it was this idea that being at the top is scary and my fear of getting there and falling that was holding me back—not self-sabotage or my lack of ability—gave me hope. All I needed to do was shift those beliefs, right?

barrier

When it comes to changing our beliefs, it’s safe to say that it can be easier said than done. But what I had on my hands last week was an opportunity.

I’d “fallen” and survived. I wasn’t crushed.

If I can fail without considering myself without considering myself a failure, if I can stumble without stopping, and if I am entirely capable of picking myself and getting on with things after getting knocked down, the prospect of success (and the risk it carries) is less terrifying.

That was a lot of words to sum this up:

  1.  Shit storms happen. Finding our appreciators and consciously choosing to focus on the silver lining can open up all kinds of power.
  2.  The evidence that we need to shift our beliefs can show up on it’s own if we choose to recognize it as such.
  3.  I found me some balls to go after success a little more boldly from here on out.

What’s a silver lining your appreciator’s found lately?
Can you think of any beliefs you’ve successfully switched? What was it like?
What are your beliefs/thoughts around success? How are they informing your life?

Terrific Tuesday

I think my titles for my blog posts have gotten progressively more terrible as time has gone on…but if anything, a vague title suckers you into looking at my photos, drooling, and moving on reading right?

Today was in fact terrific!

I was up early for a full day of work but made time for a big ol’ hearty breakfast. I had eggs, kale, a sausage, and an apple with plenty of the gingerbread coffee I picked up in the states last week–festive!20121120-210025.jpg

Like I said, I spent my day at lululemon today. We were busy–I think now that Santa is in the mall, people have stepped up to their Christmas shopping game. I packed myself a lunch which I half devoured before my shift (apparently hearty wasn’t hearty enough in terms of breakfast) and which I enjoyed thoroughly at lunchtime!20121120-210030.jpg

After work, I hustled to bootcamp. I spiced it up and sweat with the gals today–we did some tabata intervals (sprinting, squatting, doing pushups and situps) and finished with a special treat: a burpee ladder. You’re welcome, girls! My arms hurt.

Somewhere in the mix I also ate myself an apple LARA bar to put my hangry on hold. When I got home from bootcamp I had a shower and found some time to listen to the latest Life By Design podcast, which was all about the reasons why LBD is so awesome. I suggested socks or community in response to the question not too long ago on facebook and both were mentioned in the podcast. 🙂

Speaking of community, tonight was the 101 night with Gainsborough. For the past few months I’ve been enjoying dinner with some awesome people and bringing some of my friends who are interested in what I’m so excited about or who I think would really connect well with LBD along with me.

Tonight was as awesome as ever–perhaps more! I was in extremely good (and good looking!) company and Dr. K nailed the why behind the what of LBD. Who’s coming next month? I also loved my steak fajitas. 🙂

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Just a handful of the pretty gals who were there tonight — MIA are a few other beauts!

I get butterflies when I hear this stuff–every time. I also get excited when I see other people recognizing that there’s something great going on.

The biggest thing that I felt so fired up by, connected to, and inspired by today was talking about finding your purpose and doing it. Dr. K mentioned that it might be hard to do what you want instead of what’s safe or what you think you should and hit the nail on the head for me.

I’m not sure if I’ve shared this before, but repeated cheese is still good cheese if the time is right:

…indecision is my middle name.

Two weeks ago I was gung ho to apply to journalism school, but I’m going to share some thinking and some realizations I’ve made:

  • Going to Columbia, to me, represented doing something remarkable. I remember the praise I got when I was accepted last year–with good reason! It’s no small accomplishment to get accepted to a big name school that’s highly competitive…so props to me.
  • I feel more confident, capable, and self-sufficient than ever. I think going to grad school was a way of proving that I am in fact independent and that I could live in the big city and thrive.
  • I know that I deserve to do what I love.

All signs point, from there, towards J school. But…

  • I already am remarkable and getting a fancy degree in something I admittedly am already doing what I want to do with–freelancing, writing on my blog, and pitching stories about what I want to write about–isn’t really serving my end purpose. I’m not saying that I’m a perfect journalist. I know I have more to learn. But I also know that I’ve learned the most by writing and pitching stories and being mentored by my editors and fellow writers. I also know that I’m remarkable in other ways.
  • I don’t have to prove it to anyone that I can take care of myself in an extreme, removed location. Yes, NYC is sexy and appealing, but it can be sexy and appealing for a weekend every now and again…
  • I know not only that I deserve to do what I love but that it doesn’t matter if what I love isn’t necessarily conventional.

So, the applications are off. If you were proud of me for going after my dreams, be proud of me for recognizing that my dreams are changing.

And I have a big scary announcement that I’m really excited about sharing.

I’m going to be a life coach.

Not “I think I want to maybe go to school for a life coach and see what happens.”

I am going to be a life coach.

First step: deciding what I want to do with myself. As I’ve spent more time working on my purpose, delving deep into my journal, and thinking about what really gets me going, it’s become apparent that coaching, mentoring, and leading top the list of the “what” that I want to do. The how will be life coaching, the why and the core purpose is what needs some refining. I think it has something to do with believing that at our core, we’re supposed to be happy, healthy, and whole.

That little idea fits perfectly with a program–The Coaches Training Institute–that keeps popping up in my life:

  • my gal pal and inspiration Alysha is working on her certification right now

  • two profs at Western talk about/use co-active coaching and introduced it to us in our classes–I also ran into these folks on a flight home from Calgary so got a little more personal info on why CTI is the best choice
  • two of my favourite life coaches–Andrea Owen over at Your Kick Ass Life and Christie Inge–actually met through the program

Most importantly though, the idea fits with what I believe. Tidbits:

“Through Co-Active training, CTI is creating a transformative change in the way people relate to and work with each other. The work inspires people to feel engaged in and passionate about their life and work, see the good, get curious, create interactions unlike any other, become visionary, feel more alive, connect deeply to others, give real meaning to their lives, think much bigger, become great leaders and make a difference.”

and

“CTI coaching holds that people are naturally creative, resourceful and whole — completely capable of finding their own answers to whatever challenges they face. The job of a Co-Active Coach is to ask powerful questions, listen and empower to elicit the skills and creativity a client already possesses, rather than instruct or advise.”

So…I’m starting this process in February.

There are obviously fears that have come up–“I’m too young.” “I’m not ready.” “Being self employed is scary.”–but one of my strongest points is being able to look at fear and either reframe it or take it as a signal. So to “I’m too young” I say “HOW COOL IS IT THAT I’M DOING THIS WHEN I’M 23!?” and to “I’m not ready.” I say “Carpe the you know what out of this diem.” or maybe give myself a reminder that holding myself back doesn’t serve me. To the self employment fears, I have to admit that they’re legitimate. But I’m responsible for taking care of myself–and self employment just makes that more urgent. I’m on it. Remember that article I wrote on just that topic? What a good starting point and reminder that I can learn what it all looks like in due time.

The more important things for me to spend my time and energy thinking about are how I’m going to use it, where it is going to take me, and how I can make it happen.

Did I mention today was TERRIFIC?!

And now for some cheese–it only seems fitting!

 

Night!