I was at the office last Tuesday, and I was having a bad day. I had even parked myself in a private room because I couldn’t fathom even saying ‘hi’ to anyone. Yea, it was that way. Personal life bled into biz life, cuz, you know, life isn’t neat little lines all the time and stuff, and I was just not myself. Everything was irritating me, which led to a rather unproductive day, which led to more annoyance, which led to me screaming the lyrics to the album “Lemonade” to.…you get the picture.
The best thing I could have done that day was take an actual lunch break. Not my usual 20-30 minutes, but a full-on 45 minutes (Whoaaaa!). As I was eating, I rather mindlessly picked up my copy of the most recent New York Magazine. The cover read, “Put down your phone.” I’ve become increasingly interested in the importance of being DIS-connected recently, so I was intrigued and flipped to it.
The author talks about his own addiction to being constantly connected. “Every hour I spent online was not spent in the physical world. Every minute I was engrossed in a virtual reaction I was not involved in a human encounter. Every second absorbed in some trivia was a second less for any form of reflection, or calm, or spirituality. “Multitasking” was a mirage. This was a zero-sum question. I either lived as a voice online or I lived as a human being in the world that humans had lived in since the beginning of time….after 15 years, I decided to live in reality.”
Sounds about right. He missed the part where we fast-forward 20 years in the future and we’re facing an unprecedented scoliosis, arthritis of the hands and slipped disc epidemic from leaning over our phones. But let’s back up to Last Tuesday. I was waiting for wedding vendors to respond to my messages (some 2+ weeks old and the wedding is closing in! And Event Planner Jill doesn’t love that.), so I was constantly checking my email. There are a couple of days a week where I’m largely working alone, so I was craving text interactions with friends that sometimes lasted…longer than I’d like to admit to you here. And I’m beta-testing the Career Change Kitchen Online Course so I’m especially on edge, as I always am when I put myself out there so fully.
So what did I do? Made up emails to write, freakishly checked Facebook and Instagram, got into text marathons with friends, and the like. And you know what the end result was?
My body felt weird and disconnected from my mind. I felt sluggish and my mind felt heavy, fragmented and frazzled. And ironically, I felt less connected than ever. I felt like the movie “Boiler Room” looked. Oh, and I’m sure my work product that day was crap.
Then I started to think that this has MAJOR ramifications for ya’ll, my party people going through a career change. There’s that statistic out there that upward of 70% of people are not engaged at work. I’d venture to guess that a large percentage of that group is not engaged because they’re not in the right role for their skills, passions and values, but even less of those people even attempt and successfully make a career change.
Why? Well, I’d also venture to guess that this constant connection thing that has pervaded our society, ESPECIALLY in always-on-the-go NYC and other large cities, has fragmented our minds so much that it’s become near impossible to stay focused and keep our eyes on the prize for long enough to see it through! We’re tired and frazzled and at the end of a long day, we have no energy left to pursue something else. But what if this phenomenon many of us experience (including me when I was working two jobs and building my business on the side) has less to do with external factors like time and how much sleep you got the night before (though important) and more to do with just being mentally exhausted?
So if you’re still reading this blog, which is a bit of a departure from my usual tips and tools and how-to posts, I did a massive brainstorm today on giant post-it notes all over the place to come up with a brain dump/laundry list of quick ideas to make this more top of mind for you as you make your career change a reality:
- Turn off all notifications from your phone. I no longer get notifications for email, text, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn (or any app) on my phone.
- Better yet, go into your settings on your phone and manually turn off your email. This has been a game changer. If someone needs you, they’ll call. (Yes, I keep phone notifications on!)
- Leave your phone at home. My phone is almost always at home on date night, and I have started to leave it at home for other personal activities (but not business).
- Put your phone in a drawer one day a week. For me that’s either Saturday or Sunday. Some weeks are easier than others, and I currently don’t have a hugely high success rate here J Again, if it rings, I will hear it, but all other notifications have been turned off.
- Pay attention to when you go to check your phone, ESPECIALLY when you leave it at home. I left it at home to go to dance class last week, and I noticed that on the way to class (approx. 25 minutes) I reached for my phone 3 times. Of course it wasn’t there, but because it wasn’t there, I was able to actually NOTE that I was doing it, rather than doing it mindlessly.
- Stop posting sh*t: This is another area where I could use some help <cough> Instagram <cough>. I love photography and weird stuff so it’s FUN for me to try different angles and lighting, especially with my DSLR, but I also get into what the article mentions re: social validation and seeing who said what about a post.
- If you run your own business (or want to, as a career changer!) or you’re a blogger on the side, schedule those posts into buffer or Hootsuite or whatever the Generation Z kids are using these days so you can set it and forget it.
- If you are on your laptop a lot during the day- another thing I want to do less of eventually!- notice when you’re opening up your browser to check email or Facebook. For me, it’s when I’m about to do something that’s scary or makes me nervous and I’d rather distract myself.
- Work places where there’s no Internet sometimes. DUN DUN DUN. No internet, Jill?! NOOOOO. I know, it seems nuts. I’m currently typing this up at a local café where people come in and sing the Greek National Anthem at the top of their lungs, so internet sounds like it might be a nice alternative to that, but I just don’t ask for the Wi-Fi password. I also left my phone at home, hehe.
- This may mean doing the research you need the Internet for ahead of time. Or….not, and filling in the blanks later.
- Figure out which set times you want to check email per day. I’m working on getting down to 2 times per day for 20-30 minutes per time, prioritizing client questions and emails
- If you work at an office that seems relatively normal and not insane like my brief stint when I returned from Argentina, see how much more you can get done implementing some of this stuff over the next few weeks, and if you’re done at 3pm, see if your company will allow flex time. Or a change in schedule, so that you can do some of your career change stuff during actual work hours. (WHOAAAA). I know not all companies are like this (see: Crazy 2013 Company), but for many, if you’re able to prove that you are responsible and can get your ish done in less time, it’s worth the ask. The key here is to prove it first and ask later. And it takes some nuance- you don’t want to tell your team or your boss that you’re embarking on this little experiment only to have them be all, “Great, here’s a whole other pile of work for ya!” And if your company has 9/80 (work an 80-hour work week in 9 business days, so you have every other Friday off), use a few hours of that day
- Go somewhere with no cell service. I know, I’m giving you heart attack inducing ideas here. Make sure there’s a landline and you’re set! The author of the article went to a meditation center for 7 days. Think big even if it’s seemingly impossible (e.g. “Oh I can’t sit in silence for 7 days because who will feed Fluffy?”). Challenge your limits.
- CALL PEOPLE, FOR THE LOVE! I’m dedicating myself to limiting text blitzes (minus the “Oh I’ll see you soon- can’t wait!” kind of quick things) so that when I get to actually talk to or see my peeps, it’s a deep meaningful convo and catch up. And I called three friends this week just to say hi. People may be like, “isn’t that intrusive?” A) No, if they can’t talk, they won’t answer. B) IMHO, it’s more intrusive to get a barrage of texts that will.not.quit.
- Consider working with a mindfulness or meditation professional while you go through your career change. Or go to a weekly meditation at a Shambhala Center near you. A friend of mine from high school, who’s a meditation, mindfulness and certified Alexander Technique professional, is working with me on a six week ‘course’ he’s putting together during the launch of the Career Change Kitchen and the lead up to the wedding. LIFE.CHANGING.
- Think about having a ‘no phone available’ part of each individual day. This is a little different than the full day with your phone in a drawer. For example, my office is about a 12-14 minute walk from my house. I carry a backpack. My phone goes in the backpack. Presto change! It’s so cool what you see when you’re not rapid fire texting your sister, hoping you’re the first to tell her about Brangelina splitting (oh, just me?)
I really think there is no shortage of ideas to add to the list. But since I don’t have the internet ;) this is all from my own brain and not inspired from any other source. It actually feels great, so let’s add that to the list:
- Consider writing. It can be about your career change, but it doesn’t have to be. You can also close out each day asking yourself the question, “How am I feeling right now and why?” and writing for 2-5 minutes about that to close out your day.
I’m speaking at the W.E.L.L Summit next month and I have an inkling that this is going to be part of my wellness-during-a- career change talk! Do you have other ideas to add to this thread for my talk? Or have you tried any of them with success? Or maybe they didn’t work for you? Comment below!