What if what you want most requires you to do what you want least?
This is the conundrum and the reality I find myself in these days.
With the onset of the pandemic, my backburner/if-I-have-time-in-2020 project, i.e. writing a book, became a front burner project. By early March, most of my planned for business opportunities dried up. I thought, “hmm, now what?”
First, I took time to reconnect to my mission and vision and values, as a company and as a person. I connected with colleagues and clients and leaned in and learned alongside them, mostly, how to do good work in a remote way. I reached out to my communities and offered support to those I could help and asked for support where I needed it.
I also decided to move that back burner project to the fore. Long story short, I found a publishing partner in Page Two Books in Vancouver and set about finishing my memoir and reflective guidebook.
Publishing a book is a beast, and I am a tadpole in this ecosystem. There are a million things to do, all the time: additions, revisions, decisions – oh my! And then comes the promotion. One of the primary necessities in publishing a book these days is to have an online presence and leverage it often.
What I want to do most is share the book, the concepts, the ideas, and talk about it with as many people as possible. Which leads to what I want to do least.
I actually don’t like being connected on social media so much. I am exhausted by it.
Self-promotion feels icky. As part of my healthy approach to social media, I still don’t have notifications on my phone nor my laptop. And yet, because I “have to” come up with regular, creative, on-brand posts to promote the book, I feel obligated, even forced, to do something I really don’t want to do, that’s not really my preferred medium. I need serious downtime from being online, and I currently feel out of balance.
I want to be someone who connects, creates and communicates with other human beings. To be clear, it’s not the people I don’t like connecting with. I find inspiring and fascinating stories and valuable information and beautiful art through these platforms! I want to connect with people, to have conversations with people, to collaborate with people. In fact, I’m hungry for it. But I’m a little bit allergic to the constant ‘check in and scroll’ process.
You know when you read/watch all the podcasts and TED talks and interviews and articles about managing your digital consumption, and how people share their habits and wink knowingly, like “yeah, as soon as I wake up in the morning I turn on my phone, and then I’m never without it?” That’s not me. When I go to bed, I my phone is on airplane mode and I often go an hour or more in the morning without turning it back on. I write and reflect, review and organize, get the day’s game plan in place, and only then turn my phone on to join the rest of the world.
Am I allowed to admit out loud that I don’t particularly like social media? That the endless scrolling and onslaught of ‘mental clutter’ feels overwhelming? That I can only handle small doses before succumbing to the intentionally engineered, addiction-like vortex of mindless consumption? What I do like is when I talk to the people I meet online. So, I check in once or twice a day for 10 minutes and that’s it. When I engage with colleagues and admit this aversion, I often feel like an anachronistic Luddite and that I’m throwing away opportunities to be a modern entrepreneur, musician, author, environmentalist, and social person. It seems I never know what’s going on anymore unless I’m plugged into social media and scrolling endlessly through a million events and posts and updates and links.
In Three Colors, Twelve Notes, I share lots of stories to encourage people to get curious, try new things, and also follow their instincts. I’ve got to walk my own talk here and follow what I know to be right for me. Find the balance of the incredible value of using social media to connect, create and communicate with people, ideas, and experiences, without overdoing it. To engage with modern, rapidly evolving tools and systems that connect the world, and also to stay present with the simple things that actually enrich my daily life.
Finally, I have found that on a daily basis, I need to defrag and reboot my own human system. I recently read the term ‘dopamine fasting’ to describe a 12-hour period when you don’t use anything that gives you that immediate, satisfactory hit of dopamine – online shopping, social media, online news, the insatiable digital snacking that ultimately never satisfies.
If I don’t click a ‘thumbs up’ on your comment immediately, or respond to an instant message, please don’t hold it against me. Sometimes I take a few needed days off. I do see and appreciate the support, and I love connecting, even if it’s at a slower pace. And feel free to email me at email@example.com any time! I know that it might seem analogous to using a rotary phone, but my email really has become a magic hub of all incoming communications, where all my social media messages are forwarded.
The irony, of course, is that I will be posting this on my web site and sharing through social media, and likely people will roll their eyes and say “Aha! You are using the thing you say you don’t want to use!” And therein lies the rub. See beginning of post!