Imagine what it could feel like to disconnect. Not to be tied down by rapidly evolving technology and the social pressure to always be plugged in. To be more free to think creatively and spend time exploring yourself and your relationships, in real time rather than through the matrix.
What would you make more time for and how great would you feel?
I can still remember exactly when I understood the power of disconnection.
My Jr. year of college I worked for Brant Lake Camp for boys as a camp counselor and doubled down with it as my internship as well.
I worked with 12-14-year-old boys within the Fitness and Baseball sides of camp and probably got in the best shape of my life. I was excited about the opportunity to be in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains for the Summer, but encountered something on the first night I wasn’t quite expecting.
.........No cell phone service.......
And I don’t mean that service was kind of spotty, I mean it wasn’t happening.
Aside from weekends out with counselors in town it was radio silence. No texts, no phone calls, no emails; except those I could check from a 10 year old computer that often didn’t work.
The first few days were eye opening in how much I felt like I “needed” to have my phone and stay connected but after that….
I felt like I could finally breathe.
I was more present in the moment than I could ever remember and I had more time to get inside my own head. I spent more time reading and thinking and felt absolutely no need to check my pocket or emails the rest of summer. But it took getting past those first few days.
It might sound crazy, but even my 5:00am silent workouts were on an entirely new level. Time to listen to my thoughts and focus on how things felt, in that moment, nothing else.
I was able to talk with my girlfriend at the time and use the internet more when counselors made it out of camp on the weekends, but at that point I was just enjoying my forced disconnection. I didn’t have the feeling that I was “missing out.”
It’s funny how we generally only discover these kinds of things by brute force. I can’t imagine I would have eliminated those things for my life for any other reason.
It’s also funny how we still resort to our old ways even when we have revelations like this in our lives.
When I got back after that summer I swore I would make an effort to stay less connected and it did last for quite a while. I enjoyed the opportunity to leave my phone at home and jump on my bike outside, but the temptations and pressures of the connected world are STRONG.
Not long after returning, I found myself living to respond to emails and texts as fast as possible, scrolling through Facebook, and quickly spending less time reading and thinking. It’s slightly addictive and can easily consume your time and energy if you let it.
The difference was that now at least, I was aware.
I also started to make the connection as to why I came up with great ideas and had breakthroughs when I was traveling and working on bigger picture projects. Not only was I on a plane with no connection but in physically changing locations, I was mentally giving myself permission to disconnect.
(It only makes sense that I am writing this while on a plane back from Montreal)
Truth of it is, if you want to create a massive impact in the world and find success you can’t swim entirely against the current. Technology is actually a tool to create more freedom and time for what we love, but getting to that level and actually enjoying it requires a balance.
So how can you start to implement some of this and see the results?
Structure is the answer.
Want more freedom? Create more structure and "rules of engagement" for life and you will have it.
Just pick a day and time and turn you phone and email notifications off for at least an hour (feel free to do more). Schedule it out and stick to it. This is not earth shattering but many of the most successful people in the world talk about doing this exact thing.
If it’s good enough for them, I think it might have an impact on you and I as well.
You might feel guilty at first or, if you’re like me, maybe even a little bit of anxiety but just fight your urge to turn it back on. Hell, give it to someone else to hide it if you can’t be trusted!
Then spend some time with your loved ones. Go read or write. Go for a walk and give yourself permission to think and live outside the confines of emails and texts.
Many of us don’t allow ourselves the time or environment to get into our own head. Maybe we’re scared of what might come out (haha, that’s an entirely different rant) but if we want to get into a new space in our lives it all has to start from there.
I write all of this not as someone who has it all figured out, but as a reminder for myself as well what I need to structure and facilitate. We can’t rely on plane flights and camp to force us into disconnection and its benefits.
Not if we want it to happen regularly and impact our life in the way that it can. Commit to it and schedule it consistently, and let me know what happens.
I have a good feeling it could be a game changer in your life.
Joe is the Co-owner of G+O Fitness and the Axiom Fitness Academy. When he isn't at the HQ whipping people into shape and changing lives, you can probably find him with his fiance', Megan, reading or playing outdoors.
Joe is a lover of team huddles, IPic, craft beers, and all things peanut butter related. You can connect with him more at email@example.com