Managing Our Devices

I published an article for ISACA in November, 2013, about finding greater balance with technology. It was the precursor to a project I have been working on called Tech Cleanse. When I say working, I mean stewing, brewing, talking, brainstorming, researching, writing….all the things that happen behind the scenes before a business launches and before there is a product or service to buy! In the process, I have learned alot about my own behaviors as they relate to striving toward a so-called state of balance, and why / how / when I reach for external sources in an attempt to fill some sort of perceived void.

Tea Fields in Rwanda, March 2015

Tea Fields in Rwanda, March 2015

I do not believe in balance unless you are referring to the physical state of teetering on a rope at the circus or on one elbow during yoga class. There are lots of phrases trending now that support the perception that a state of balance is achievable for a completely centered and peaceful existence; when every area of our life is in order and there are no crying children, no bills to pay, no friends who are struggling, no illness, plenty of time to achieve all that we are told by media sources to become, and through it all we are looking and feeling awesome!

How stressful does that sound!? I have some information – proven! – that might alleviate some pressure so you can go on and enjoy your totally imbalanced day: it doesn’t exist for us humans on earth. There will always be more things to be done, messes to clean up, conflicts to manage, and discomforts to address. You might not get enough sleep some nights and that will cause you to reach for something to feel better and it will really make you feel guilty, even shameful! Then you will take it out on your kids or the person you love the most and you might fight about something irrational that could even cause you to start obsessing that your relationship is doomed. At the end of the day you may look at all the ways that you have failed in finding balance in your life and you will think about all of those people who seem to have their &$% together. Then you find yourself on Facebook – comparing, romanticizing, dreaming of the day when you are in a perfect state of equilibrium.

The good news first: you are not alone and there is an easy solution to living a more content and peaceful existence (psst…it might even be blissful!). The bad news is that over time the behavior that was just described has carved pathways in your brain that supports the rat race. When you are distracting yourself with external things to feel better you are moving even farther away from any sense of equilibrium. Moreover, the stress is accumulating and your body is living in a perpetual state of fight/flight/freeze, perhaps having lost the natural ability to regulate your nervous system. This leads to a host of physical and mental illnesses, and chronic stress is arguably the fastest growing cause of death.

Unplugged and Recharged! Connecting with nature for the day.

Unplugged and Recharged! Connecting with nature for the day.

I have lived this and I can still go back to that state in an instant. Most of us are losing the ability to be present, and are in a perpetual state of distraction which we call multitasking so as to feel more productive and less of a glutton for social media. I believe the solution can be found in the following steps:
1. Create new habits and daily practices that supports self-compassion.
2. Stop making lists.
3. Challenge yourself to a daily unplug, when you will step away from (and turn off!) your devices (laptop, tablet, phone). Watch what happens and track your responses over time.
4. Find new meaning and purpose in your daily existence if you think you need it. This is where my proposed Tech Cleanse Retreat comes in and if you are ready to see the world in a whole new way, consider taking an even bigger step and unplugging from American life for 11 days. Come to Africa with me!

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How Serious Are You?

Me visiting a 1,000 hectare organic tea farm on a mountaintop on Rwanda, March 2015.

Me visiting a 1,000 hectare organic tea farm on a mountaintop on Rwanda, March 2015.

Did you just say “You can’t have it all!”? Not true. That’s your story. Let’s break it down. First, what is “it”? For many, it is a successful career, plenty of money, a loving relationship, a peaceful home life, good health, a community of supportive friends and colleagues, joy, youth, opportunities for advancement and personal growth…on and on. The list is pretty similar for most people in the world and it is human nature to want more.

Let’s get specific though. What does a successful career look like to you? What is “plenty” of money? What does “peaceful” mean? How do you know you are living in a state of joy? This is the nuts and bolts of realizing your true desires and manifesting the vision you have for your future. Most people don’t get this far and they don’t get crystal clear with what “it” is. Start there.

After you have “it” engraved in your mind’s eye, decide what matters most and who matters most. Identify your tribe and (re)create your story. What do you stand for and where are you going? Once you answer these questions it is only a matter of divine time that you will be swimming in the pool of all that “it” represents to you and with the support of your tribe and inspirational, positive mentors you will have figured out how to integrate all of it into a full and peaceful existence; one that fulfills that which is most important to you and without fear of having to give up one thing in order to have another. Forget about balance. Seek out integration and affirm that there is plenty of time and space to enjoy life while pursuing that which makes your heart sing and with those whom you are madly in love.