I recently wrapped up a weeklong ski trip with friends. For those who don’t know me that well, I really, really love skiing.
There’s something amazing about wearing uncomfortable boots with wooden sticks affixed to them and leaning side to side while traversing down a snowy hill. That’s a gross oversimplification of skiing; there’s so much more to it: The equipment, the speed, the terrain, the conditions, the visibility, and the technique.
There’s nothing more exhilarating than riding the rails down some fresh corduroy on a blue bird day (skiing with proper form down a freshly groomed run on a sunny day). Or cruising off-piste on untouched pow (skiing through the woods after a storm has left fresh powder and no one has been through yet).
While skiing, I had quite the interesting insight: we humans always crave what’s new and fresh. It is just so exciting.
I want to ski on a trail or through fresh powder that no one else has skiied on.
And I will wake up at 6am to make this a reality. First tracks is a real thing. It excites me. It is new, it is shiny. There’s no better feeling than the rush that comes from a brand new experience. It is like that new car smell. And once you get it, you crave more.
However, for us to truly enjoy those new moments, we have to practice consistently on much less desirable conditions. Only then, when the moment comes, we are ready to “enjoy the shit out of it.” But without all of that practice, you will only have a mediocre experience.
I think that work follows the same pattern. Be patient. Work hard during the toughest of times; work on perfecting your skills; work on building systems. And then finally, when the moment comes, you are 100% ready to seize the moment.
Logistics are everything. This is the first flight that I have missed in a long while. It’s really fascinating how one simple mistake can have resounding repercussions throughout an entirely well-planned day.
Yup. Missing a 6am flight totally changed the course of my Monday. I was 100% ready to get this day started right. Instead, I now sit here grounded. Waiting for standby without a guarantee that I will be able to continue my day in the manner in which I have planned it.
Hi social media –
In late 2017, you were like a broken router. All of the messages that I received from you were garbled and distracting. I tried so hard to quit you. And on January 1st, 2018, I unplugged you.
It wasn’t easy and I struggled a lot. You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything. I’ve also turned off all of your dopamine inducing notifications. To my friends and you, this may have made me appear a bit more oblivious.
I’m sorry. I just needed some space.
“FRIEND and 13 others have recently tweeted. Tap to see.”
“FRIEND has posted a new photo. Tap to see it.”
Damn it. You kept updating me on what is going on. It made it so hard to focus. It made it hard to be 100% present.
There have been times where I have been intently staring at my phone when amazing people are right there sitting in front of me. How have I let this shiny blue screen capture so much of my attention?
Only when I was brave enough to press the power button and the screen faded to black, did the people from behind the shiny blue screen emerge.
I was back. We were back. We talked, we shared ideas, we cracked jokes, and we laughed together. This glowing portal to the internet that I carry in my pocket is a tool, not a substitute for the people around me.
I’ve found myself 10 times happier in the past month and change.
I recently celebrated Chinese New Year with my family and my phone remained in my pocket (on airplane mode) during all our meals. It’s been a while since I have felt this relaxed; it’s been a while since I have felt this connected; it’s been a while since I have laughed this hard.
My goal for 2018 is to be more present. And by unplugging social media, I learned something important: it requires a lot of discipline to be present.
So I’m trying my hardest to change an old, bad habit. No more shiny blue screens when I’m surrounded by great people. I’m still human, so help me by holding me accountable.
And as I say this, I’m plugging back in my router. The lights are starting to blink. I’m back!