“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” — Anne Lamott
“You can’t get what you want…till you know what you want.” — Joe Jackson
It can be REALLY hard to unplug. Especially at this time of year.
But hear me out.
Most of us, whether we’re in a corporate job, or starting something, or running our own companies, are caught up in our habitual thinking. The thinking that makes productivity and efficiency and to-do lists the holy grail.
It can seem beneficial to do more things faster.
But what if you’re doing the wrong things?
What if, to paraphrase Steven Covey from so many years ago, your ladder is leaning against the wrong wall?
If money and growth are just exhausting you rather than fulfilling you?
This is why you unplug.
What Do I Mean By Unplug?
By unplug, I’m talking about slowing down. Getting clear. Seeing what emerges, what wants to emerge, from you in the silence.
This is more than turning your phone and your laptop and your TV off. Though, don’t get me wrong, that’s an excellent start.
Unplugging is about settling into another part of your brain. Another part of your being.
Unplugging can include the following—
Going for a run.
Taking a shower.
Going for a hike (or even just a walk).
Having dinner with a friend.
Eating slowly enough that you can actually taste your food.
Some of these activities are solo, and some involve a partner. But they all involve slowing down, or at least, slowing that habitual “doer” part of your brain down.
Why Is Unplugging Essential?
There is a long list of leaders who create open space on their calendars just to step back. Just to see bigger. Warren Buffett. Jeff Bezos. Bill Gates. What is that they see that the rest of us are missing?
When I unplug, I begin to notice how amped up I’ve been.
I notice all the things I’ve been doing just because I feel obligated to doing them. Even if that obligation is only to myself.
I notice how often I get stuck in doing things that I really don’t want to do but feel I should do.
How often I do things that others would be better at doing (assuming of course that they need to be done at all).
How often I feel depleted rather than alive.
How often I feel I am enduring rather than living.
How often I feel like my life is happening TO ME rather than FOR ME. That I am reacting rather than creating.
But when I unplug this all begins to fall away.
It can for you, too. Even if at first you only do it for a minute or two.
If you just sit and breathe, if you let go of your to do list for just a moment, what do you notice?
What Can Be Revealed By Unplugging?
Unplugging is the only way that I am aware of to get in touch with that larger part of myself that already knows what I really want.
Almost every breakthrough I’ve had with someone has come when, just for a moment, our thinking stopped. And in that gap something amazing happened.
A business owner discovered that what he most wanted was a close relationship with his wife.
A founder saw a whole different way of leading.
An executive saw how she was reacting to what she thought was expected in her new role, rather than seeing the opportunity to create it.
I saw how I was holding myself back by writing about what I thought people wanted to read rather than what I KNEW they NEEDED.
What could you see new and fresh, if only you stopped to take a look?
What if you made a practice of unplugging regularly?
The Only Way To See THIS Is If You Unplug
We are so used to being “productive” that it can be hard to stop.
I have several regular times on my calendar each week where I take a look at what I am doing and why. I do this with my clients, too.
Most people need some kind of formality to this exercise. It can feel like an intervention. It can take a calendar entry and the tenacity to protect it (or an assistant with the tenacity to do so for us).
It can take an accountability partner, or a mentor, or a coach.
But when it starts to happen, and when it starts to happen regularly, something amazing happens.
We begin to see the structure, the rules, that we have been living in.
How we view work and success and obligation and relationship.
And we begin to see that none of it is solid.
We can question it.
ALL of it.
We can question how we define success, or how we define our own limitations.
We can sense better what we really want.
We can sense the bigger things that want to come through us.
I had an experience one evening in July of 2021 where I closed my eyes and suddenly the world disappeared. I disappeared. There was just space, just possibility, just aliveness.
That sensation has never fully gone away. I can touch that place of possibility almost at will.
It would not have happened, I am convinced, if I didn’t have a habit of unplugging regularly.
What could you create if you knew you could create anything?
What Is Wanting To Emerge?
I am convinced that we spend way too much of our time and mental effort trying to keep ourselves small.
Or, sometimes, trying to make ourselves feel bigger on top of the smallness that we are convinced lurks underneath.
But the ideal life to me feels less like a construction project and more like a demolition project.
We have to let go of the things that have been holding us back before we move forward.
By seeing that, even though we have believed them for a long time, they never were real.
Only then can the real you, and your real work, emerge.
What Do You Really Want To Create?
At this time of year, it’s easy to think about what goals you missed in 2023. About how you might meet them in 2024.
But what about 2034? 2050? 2100?
What is the cause, the legacy, that will outlive you?
What is the one tiny step you can take today to start to create it?
How To Go Deeper
I am convinced that more and more people are coming out of the spiritual closet and seeing their work as a vital personal journey to both abundance and meaning.
This is what I write about. For founders, for original thinkers, at all stages of this journey.
The world needs YOU, in all your brilliance and imperfection.
If you are a founder wanting to scale and sell your company, there are three shifts in identity that can help you do so with twice the impact and half the stress. Take a look at this video.
If you want to build a coaching business where you get to be yourself, help amazing people, and replace your corporate income in the process, here’s a video where I share the top three mistakes I see coaches make when trying to build a sustainable business—
You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here.
You can follow me on LinkedIn to make sure you never miss a post by hitting the bell on my profile.
If you want to subscribe to this Creating Extraordinary Futures newsletter, you can do so here.