I am going to type this final one (because I can). I literally have a cramp in my hand from all of the writing I have done since I embarked on the #30DayDetox challenge on August 1.
First, I want to thank all of you who have taken part in this detox. It has made a significant difference in the quality of my life and I hope it did the same for you. I am so grateful we did this as a group because, had I done it on my own, I likely would not have seen it through. I also want to give a special thank you to our viewers who decided to share their stories with us. It is brave to expose your insecurities for all to see and I commend them on not only helping themselves but also helping others in the process.
Before I get into it, I just want to say, obviously, not having email, text and the Internet for a month was a hassle. Calling every one on my flip-phone for every little thing was inconvenient for me but more for my colleagues and friends.
However, this was the best month of my life.
With so much time to reflect, I learned how I truly like to spend my free time, what my true passions are and what my real priorities are in my life. With social media, email and the Internet the way it is, it has become a challenge to keep life simple. I needed to go to the extreme to come back more measured and balanced.
My girlfriend noticed a drastic change in me. She said I was more present, more interested and more interesting. She noted that, for her, it was a better experience because I wasn’t working 24/7 and looking down at my phone every moment. Even my nighttime routine changed. Normally, before I go to sleep, I catch up on emails and surf the Internet to catch up. Without a computer, I wrote in a journal for the first time in my life. Since August 1, I wrote in it twice a day. One night, I said to Shari, “Let’s make bucket lists of things we want to do in our lifetime and things we want to do together.” We stayed up until 3 a.m. writing, laughing and listening. I never would have thought to do that if I was in my normal rhythm.
While I rarely take vacation, I decided to visit Europe during the month of August. I went to 10 countries in 14 days. For the first seven days, my best friend from nursery school, Shari, came with me. But for the second half of the trip, I was alone, navigating four countries with no ability to communicate (except with my flip-phone which was basically useless overseas). I thought it was important to punctuate this adventure by myself, with no distractions, to see what it is really like to have free time with no technology. I was proud of myself for navigating each country on my own and for filling every part of my day the way I wanted to fill it. I was not lonely for one minute. I learned how to spend quality time by myself without my iPhone playing a part. No emails were coming in to gratify me personally or professionally, but there also weren’t any coming in that would cause me angst. If something was urgent or work-related, I got a call. I simply got to be. I took pictures, read tons of books on photography, ate at beautiful restaurants and explored new places without Instagramming a single photo.
In Stockholm, I went to fax a journal entry in to a colleague and the employee laughed me out of the store (they only scanned). And when people saw my flip-phone, I heard things like, “Hey, why don’t you mosey on into 2014 and ditch the flip-phone?” If they only knew how much joy that flip-phone brought me!
When I logged back on to the digital world on September 1, I was anxious to read my 5,000 emails that were waiting and nervous about reattaching. This month was the happiest I have been in a very long time.
Same deal next year?