Remember the days when you’d go to a restaurant and while you waited to meet your friend, you’d order a drink, look around and watch other people? Then you’d feel weirdly uncomfortable and awkward because you were alone — yes — without your smartphone, and therefore, had to sit idle. As I reminisce on these pre-phone days, I recall looking around and watching other couples in conversation, studying the meals on the tables, scanning the apparel and shoes on those around me, or even the decor of the restaurant, all while giving the server a polite smile and say, “I’m just waiting for a friend.” At that time, every minute I checked my watch felt eternal because I was alone. Rather than swiping, liking and scrolling on my coveted phone, I was forced to deal with myself. Crazy right? Eventually, I’d accept the discomfort of sitting idle and having to just think, daydream, and as we see it today, “do nothing.”
Rather than swiping, liking and scrolling on my coveted phone, I was forced to deal with myself
I also remember when I used to wait for the train from New Jersey to Manhattan and while I waited, I watched people, tossed out “good morning!” to strangers and talked to the familiar faces that were “regular” commuters who like me, waited for the same train on a daily basis. When the crowds subsided, I would fidget with my outfit or lip gloss and just kept checking my watch for 7:14am to come around. At some point, I’d eventually let my mind wander while I admired the sunrise or studied other commuters.
In today’s world of smartphones and hyper-connectivity, (read: when you text your friend before a date with a “be there in 2 minutes” or “parking the car,”), there is no time for awkward silence, nor daydreaming. In fact, I embrace the extra few minutes to fire out one more email, check instagram or squeeze in a quick phone call. Like most people, I find the need to be productive EVERY MINUTE of the day. The same situation applies for when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting for the barista to prepare my latte and heck, even if I sit in the car at a red light too long, I feel productive taking a quick scan at an email or text.
This article was originally published on thriveglobal.com
My phone has become my security blanket, my partner, my accessory, my prop, and my “I can’t live without you!” I surveyed some of my friends and we all agreed that whenever we have any “dead” time or have to sit idle, we are instantly commandeered by our little rectangular blue-light companion that comforts us and gives us something to do when we need something to do, or makes us at least look like we have something to do. That’s kind of messed up, right? And is this good or bad?
It’s discernibly good because we are “getting things done,” however, when I reflect on this, I consider it to be not so good. Why? Because it was during those quiet times of observing and mind wandering, when I did a lot of thinking, when I paid more attention to details and when I use to memorize things I saw or heard such as songs or billboards on the subway, and even people’s names! I would walk down the Manhattan streets and look at birds, make eye contact with people, notice new storefront windows and creatively think about what I wanted to accomplish. Today we see people walk down those same streets, hijacked by their cell phones, and typically head down and headphones in. But what about that awkward silence at the restaurant? Have we forgotten how to feel awkward and just deal with ourselves?
My phone has become my security blanket, my partner, my accessory, my prop, and my “I can’t live without you!”
In 1670, French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote in his Pensées, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Psychologist Timothy Wilson backs this up in 11 studies proving that people did not enjoy spending even short periods of time in a room, with nothing to do but think and daydream. The participants preferred listening to music, being on their smartphones and even giving themselves mild electric shocks, as opposed to being left to think.
When I remember those non-iPhone days, I recall things that I never even pay attention to anymore and I feel grateful for having lived a smartphone-less childhood, well into my early 20s. I spent more time thinking inwards, visualizing goals, smiling about past moments and meditating. Sadly, the digital distractions, apps, emails and alerts on my phone now replace this time.
So here’s the challenge — try it; make a date with someone, arrive early and Just. Sit. Idle. Might you feel awkward, uncomfortable, inefficient or fidgety? Absolutely. But within that awkwardness, you may discover the magic of kicking up a conversation with the bartender, or even better, daydreaming and allowing your mind to wander. Studies show that during this brain’s idle stage of thinking is in fact, anything but idle. The brain uses this quiet mode of processing for “self-awareness and reflection, recalling personal memories, imagining the future, feeling emotions about the psychological impact of social situations on other people, and constructing moral judgments.”
Empowered with this knowledge, I will certainly rethink the incessant social check-ins, unnecessary “I’m sitting at the bar” texts, and obsession to be “always busy,” to once again, accomplish true mindfulness and a stronger sense of self. In other words, I may just have to deal with myself, but this time, I’ll enjoy it.
Personally, I am over the top excited that we are on the cusp of turning the page on not only a new year but also on a new 10-year window of opportunities and possibilities!
You may be thinking, whoa…I am just embracing the fall season…yikes… it is tough to think about a new decade!
Yet it is this groundwork, this forward thought that you put in place TODAY that will propel you and lead you into greatness in 2020 and beyond. Designing a new decade rests in your ability to vision, in your willingness to be curious, in your awareness of where you are now and what you most want to curate. Essentially, curating what's next is about tapping into today with confidence, conviction, and decision. Leading YOU starts now. This is your new next. It is your choice.
Sometimes to get to that 'next', you need to take a step back to reflect. Please pardon my asking you to spend time in yesterday. Those who know me personally, know that I created and continue to grow my business based on enabling the present moment as a springboard for living your legacy. So, indulge me here! True, I am asking you to peek into the past, yet it is only in order for you to bring the essence of that past forward into this moment called NOW.
One of the best ways to tap into what's next is to clarify what drives you. To design a new decade, ask yourself this question about the past ten years:
What worked? What were my successes?
Make a list of your achievements big and small. Don't type them, but rather use ink and paper and sit with and savor them. Move your thoughts and your successes from your head, to your heart, to your pen, to the paper. Remember that on the flip side of goals not attained and New Year's resolutions abandoned, there was more than likely some traction and action that moved you forward, even if the end result was not what you expected. Once you have a full list of a decade's worth of personal and professional accomplishments, think about how this makes you feel. Do you remember celebrating all of them? My guess is no. So, celebrate them now. Give them new life by validating them. Circle the successes that resonate with you most right now. Where can you lean into those accomplishments as you power into the decade ahead?
Now comes a tougher question, one that I used myself in my own mid-life reinvention and a question I adore because in a moment's time it provides you with a quick reconnect to your unique inner voice.
If it were 10 years ago and nothing were standing in your way, no fear or excuses to contend with…what would you do?
Don't overthink it. The brilliance of this question is that it refocuses purpose. Whatever first came to mind when you answered this for yourself is at its core a powerful insight into defining and redefining the FUTURE decade. Bring your answer into the light of today and what small piece of it is actionable NOW? Where is this resonating and aligning with a 2019 version of yourself?
Then, based on your success list and your answer to the above question, what is your 2020 vision for your business and for the business of YOU?
Designing a new decade begins as a collection of 3,650 opportunities. 3,650 blank slates of new days ahead in which to pivot and propel yourself forward. Every single one of those days is a window into your legacy. An invitation to be, create, explore, and chip away at this thing we call life. One 24-hour segment at a time.
While you have a decade ahead to work on design improvements, you have the ability to begin manifesting this project of YOU Version 2020 right NOW. Based on exploring the exercises in this post, begin executing your vision. Ask questions. Be present. Let go of 2019 and the past 10 years so that you can embrace the next 10. Position acceptance and self-trust at the forefront of how you lead you. One choice at a time.
Don't get bogged down in the concept of the next 10 years. Instead position clarity and intention into each new day, starting today. Then chase every one of those intentions with an in-the-moment commitment and solution toward living a legendary life!