I have always been the type of person to set myself a challenge. Travel to one new country for every year of my life, only take contents that fit into four suitcases when moving to a new country, save a minimum of 30% of my salary every month regardless of my income level, write a gratitude list and journal entry every day, show and reflect on my appreciation for my partner on a daily basis… these are just a few examples I have set myself over the past few years.
You may ask: Why set challenges for yourself – isn’t that just making life more difficult?
I do it because I fully believe that challenges are an essential part of life. I believe they are a fundamental part of growing as a human being and both in times of great happiness and despair, challenges have an uncanny ability to re-focus one’s attention on endeavours that can be truly personal, worthwhile and possibly life changing.
The most recent challenge I have set myself, is to cut myself off cold turkey from social media for a minimum of 66 days. No Facebook, no Facebook Messenger, no Snapchat, no Instagram etc. The only exception to this is my WhatsApp messenger (due to most of my normal phone traffic coming from there), for which I set myself the restriction to only use it for text communication and calls. No social media-esque status updates allowed to be posted or viewed.
You may ask: What caused you to embark on this latest challenge?
Quite honestly, I have been experiencing some pretty trying times in the last six months or so both professionally and personally, which have left my head reeling.
- The company I work for has conducted re-organisation at a level that has significantly affected both my own position and arguably that of 100,000+ more employees too.
- My four year leadership development program at the company is coming to an end, meaning I will now no longer be secured a path with increasing responsibilities, regular pay increases and top leadership visibility. Nor will I be necessitated to relocate every 18 months unless I really want to. This means, however, that I also need to start determining for myself how and where I wish to develop my career to in the future. Scary stuff when you’ve never done it before.
- Also, the most significant relationship I had experienced in a decade, crashed and burned suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving me both confused and heartbroken at a level I had never experienced before.
Put all these changes together (as they happened more or less at the same time), and add the realisation that I may need to learn how to start re-prioritising and actively designing my life instead of continuing to coast through it, and you may be able to imagine the level of hyper-activity going on in my mind.
I really needed a break from life as it was… something had to change to allow me to re-shape and re-focus my thought patterns into a more positive and productive direction.
You may ask: But why cut yourself off from social media in particular?
Well – while going through the changes mentioned above I came to realise that I was developing an actual dependency on the medium. And a pretty strong one at that.
Though I had used social media regularly before, it was never at quite such an intense level and as the changes around me felt like they were gaining momentum in my mind, I found myself constantly checking my feeds for updates, posting, liking and receiving likes at a higher level than ever before – and needing it.
Posts that were from certain people or surrounding certain topics made me feel off balance, I started actively looking through people’s posts and comparing my life to theirs (likely making up very untrue stories in my mind in the process) and all of a sudden I felt like I needed the validation of so many others just to keep my life together. Despite the changes, I also had many good things happening in my life and yet… nothing felt like enough anymore. My focus was no longer on me, it was on anything but the real me.
I truly believe that inner balance is the key to a beautiful, productive and enriching life, so when your feeling for something (or someone) becomes so strong that you truly feel you ‘need’ that something (or someone) as opposed to simply ‘wanting’ them in your life I think it’s time to make a change. Therefore, bye bye social media it was.
You may ask: Why is the challenge 66 days long?
Scientific studies show that it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a new habit and on average 66 days for a new habit to become automatic (i.e. for old habits to break).
This being the case I decided on a minimum of 66 days for this challenge to ensure that I had enough time to let go of the old habit (social media and current thought patterns/associations with it) and work on integrating new healthier habits (related to health, wealth and relationships) into my life along the way.
You may ask: What did/do you expect to come out of this challenge?
At the time of writing this page (Day 1 of the challenge) I can honestly say that I wish to re-balance myself and gain perspective on who I am as a person, without the distracting influences of social media.
I wish to re-gain control of my thoughts, to find some calm in the storm and to really focus on myself and my own development by introducing habits (personally chosen changes), which I believe will have the power to ultimately change my life.
I also wish to understand more about myself, my wants, needs and desires irrespective of what the images on social media are subconsciously messaging my life should look like.
Lastly, I would like to re-connect with life outside the internet and social media. Though I am relatively socially active offline already, I think this is also an opportunity to really change my approach to meeting and connecting with people – perhaps through re-activating e-mails, sending letters, making more calls and actually focusing on people when they are having a conversation with me instead of feeling the compulsion to get online at different parts of the conversation.
Wish me luck!
Posts in this Series
- 66 Days without Social Media Challenge – Introduction
- 66 Days Without Social Media Challenge – Day 1
- 66 Days Without Social Media Challenge – Day 2
- 66 Days Without Social Media Challenge – Day 3
- 66 Days Without Social Media Challenge – Day 4
- 66 Days Without Social Media Challenge – Day 5