I recently had one of my decade-long dreams come true!!!
As a world traveler with a constant case of wanderlust, I’ve been blessed to visit over 30 countries so far! But years, whenever someone asked me, “If someone gave you a free ticket ANYWHERE in the world, where would you go?” I had an answer. without hesitation, I would enthusiastically respond “ISTANBUL!”
So to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, my husband and I spent the last two weeks of 2013 traveling through Turkey. I proudly checked Istanbul off my “most wanted” list! While I certainly took my fair-share of travel photos, I also had ample time away from my laptop, smartphone, and social media accounts.
Instead of instantly uploading photos to Facebook and Instagram at each of the fantastic locations we visited, I was forced to wait. While this was a common practice up until the last decade, it often becomes more of an inconvenience or annoyance (if we let it!).
However, I was having such an incredible time exploring and sharing the experience with someone I love that I didn’t miss being disconnected! I got to experience life firsthand instead of through the screen of one of my many electronic devices.
Sadly, this type of “firsthand experience” is becoming rarer and rarer as we expect immediate access to information and have grown accustomed to using our favorite apps and devices daily.
Can being so connected actually disconnect us?
Last August, the phrase “digital detox” was added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online.
The idea is to disconnect from your digital devices so you can reconnect with your environment, relationships, and yourself.
One of the leaders in this movement is an organization called Digital Detox™. They share some alarming current technology facts:
- The average American spends 8-12 hours a day staring at a screen, dedicating over 30% of leisure time to internet use.
- Over 60% admit to being addicted to the internet.
- 50% of people prefer to communicate with friends digitally rather than in person.
- One out of ten Americans reports depression. Heavy internet users are 2.5 times more likely to be depressed.
Wow! Not only are these facts shocking, they’re disheartening.
Over the last year, this trend of unplugging to recharge has inspired thousands of over-stimulated individuals to ditch their devices. In fact, the practice has become so popular that Fodor’s Travel has a page dedicated to the best hotels in the world for digital detoxing!
I wasn’t completely away from technology during my travels through Turkey. But I experienced a rare period of life where I didn’t feel glued to a screen for a majority of my day. This left me free to explore, play, eat, adventure, daydream, sleep, and reboot. International traveling can be draining, but I came back feeling renewed and connected!
So what was my secret?
Was simply temporarily unplugging enough? Not quite…
It was the freedom that came from not feeling obligated to share. I didn’t have to share what I was eating, where I was visiting, or who I was with every moment. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate my tribe and value social media A LOT! I just also appreciate times I can run away and have an adventure without being plugged in.
In my business and my personal life, I help others become more present, focused, and engaged. My deepest desire is that you live a meaningful life making intentional choices that honor your values – whether you use technology or not! Leadership is all about authentic connection. While this can and does happen online, the authentic connection begins when individuals develop face-to-face relationships over time that are built on trust.
As you analyze your relationship with the technology you choose to use, ask yourself:
- How is this device serving me? Consider the purpose and benefits of each gadget you use.
- In what ways does this device help me focus and be productive? Be clear and specific here.
- At what point do I feel drained or distracted when I’m using this device? Call a “technology time-out” at certain points of your day to reboot your energy and refocus your time.
You can turn off your iPhone and computer at a certain time each evening. You can set aside a day once a week without electronics. But I encourage you to try something new for one week and notice the difference it makes.
Feel lighter? Have more focus? Learn something new? I’d love to hear how you digital detox goes.
Start the year off right. Choose to connect with responsible, intentional ways that serve you and those you love.
PS: Still not convinced? Click here to watch a short commercial about why unplugging is necessary sometimes!