3 Unique Approaches To Conquering Distraction
If I had a dollar for every time I’m asked “Can you coach me on getting my social media under control?”
Well, I would have scored $5 yesterday, as I would many other days. Hey, that’s a lot of freebie lattes every week – alright, alright, alright!
[Celebrity voiceover in your head provided by Matthew McConaughey.]
We’ve all heard the anti-social media arguments. My participation in the social inter-webs is amateurish at best, so I’m not going to give you a lecture on right or wrong here. What I will suggest, however, is that social media hasn’t changed us. It has simply brought our egos into public view, and into the revenue streams of online advertisers – oops, I mean “social networks”. Yep, ego and dollars – the classic love story.
And because social media has merely made our egos more visible, it’s now dead-easy to see the human ego in all its Canada-Goose-and-yoga-pants-wearing glory. For better or worse, we haven’t changed in 2,000 years. We just think we’re better and, seriously, like waaaaaaay more interesting.
In his Meditations circa 170 AD, Marcus Aurelius (Emperor, robe fashionista and anti-Facebook campaigner) deposits one rich observation after another, especially in relation to ego.
“How much time she saves who does not look to see what her neighbor says or does or thinks”
Ouch! So here we are: twenty centuries down the human highway and we’re not so advanced and bigly after all.
It’s especially head-spinning because fresh research points more definitively at the similarities between social media usage and other addictions – not all of them legal. The social media ecosystem has so seductively wrapped its long legs around us that we think being noticed on social media is the entry ticket to your next job, promotion or next contract.
Keep feeding that machine until payoff, right? Post another photo – it could be the one! Pull the handle one more time.
I don’t see future payoff for you, regrettably. I see a distracted person creating a jittery monument of ego and self-deception. Since you’re probably surfing Facebook while you read that sentence, let me summarize in easier language:
#distracted #jittery #ego #self-deception Sad!
So let’s go back to our opening question, with Matthew McConaughey handing out free lattes.
“How do I get my social media under control?”
Here’s my high-level answer:
Tone down your ego and ramp up your focus.
With that news, you’re already sweating – I know it. But you can do this. You can leave the egotistical you behind. The focused, patient, prepared, considerate, insightful, in-the-moment you is just three truths away.
Truth 1. Cold turkey is delicious and good for you.
While this statement is true to many people, it doesn’t ring true to me. So I’m going to get all mathematical on you because it’s way sexier and will be easier for you to remember.
Create an asymptote. It’s where a graph of a curve gets ever-closer to a straight line but never touches the line. In our goal-setting context, it means that you accept that you’re always going to have some level of “bad habit” (social media activity) in play. We both know that your social media activity will never be zero (the flat line on our graph). But you can systematically decrease your activity by a small percentage every few weeks. For example, at the start of next month, decrease your social media activity by a mere 10% and maintain it at that level for a month. See how comfortable it feels. Don’t rush it. Note how comfortable it feels on you. The following month decrease it by another 10%. Boom.
After just three months, you’ve recovered 27% of that previously wasted time. That’s like your favorite cafe giving you every fourth lunch free. Go ahead, order anything. Cold turkey is not on the menu.
Truth 2. Feed your brain, not the servers at Facebook.
This is the step where you’ll probably struggle at first. You must persist. Get an accountability partner, because you need to fill the chunk of your life that you got back. No waffling. Get it filled with quality mental nourishment.
The easiest item to include on your menu is reading. Yes, a book. A real book – with paper pages that can be dog-eared and highlighted and scribbled on. But it has to be nourishing reading. An awesome new novel. Listen to music – on a real stereo. Stay off your go-to iDevice with earbuds – podcasts usually mutate into Facebook checking, don’t they? Study some new weekend recipes. Try voyeurism (of stars and constellations). You have seen the surface of the moon, right? You can get a spectacular telescope and tripod delivered to your door for under $100. If I’m in your neighborhood I will help you set it up and we can identify the Interstellar wormhole.
Truth 3. Coaching and ego don’t mix.
Remember in Truth 2 I urged you to get an accountability partner? So Truth 3 must be where I pitch my business to you? Regrettably, no. This is where I suggest that egocentric types are less likely to partner with a coach, because they see coaching as something to do with remediation. Being such superstars already (you know the type!), they never made it to the sentence you’re reading now. They got as far as the decoy Cold Turkey sub-heading and departed stage left, quipping “I’m not f&$%ing going cold turkey!” as they clicked on a post of Richard Branson pranking a snoozing Virgin employee. So this third truth is meant for you.
I know you.
You are in the middle of my network’s bell curve. You’re not an overachieving Gwynne Shotwell, but you’re not some barely-making-it-through-an-arts-degree slacker, either. Yes, both overachievers and slackers (Hi Dave!) are in my network.
I know you because you are just like me. You’re mostly successful, but often not satisfied. You’re intellectually curious, but you’ve picked up some bad habits along the way. You’re overloaded every evening, so your professional life suffers. Your career suffocates you, so your personal life is tanking.
Get on it.
Create an asymptote. Feed your brain. Get a coach.
Asymptote. Brain. Coach.
On the final item, be sure to secure an exceptional coach – a thoughtfully selected coach dedicated to you, reporting to you. Not an assigned coach that your boss is paying for. Those people will jump-start you like a nightcap of Propofol.
Now get that telescope ordered, send me your address, and we will find the fifth dimension – alright, alright, alright!