A few years back, I went to see Peter Gabriel live (again), and in between two songs he talked about, in his typical insightful way, how these days dictators can no longer get away with “disappearing” people in secret. People will spread the news via the internet to every corner of the earth. He went on to say that ordinary people have never been so powerful, and that we have yet to realise the full extent of that power we hold through modern media.
I’m tickled by the potential, the endless possibilities of this. In a way, I already participate in this with my one-woman freelance business which is conducted through Skype, with people from all over the world, people I never would have connected with if it wasn’t for the internet. Peter Gabriel is right, we have only just scratched the surface of what we can do.
There is, however, a danger inherent in the immediate accessibility of information. That danger is that we will get better and better informed all the time, learn more and more, but fail to actually do anything. And with the constant bombardment from advertising and cute but pointless Social Media stories, we often end up spending a disproportionate amount of time on trivial bits of “news” instead of taking action and living our own lives.
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Have you ever scrolled through Facebook, commented, reacted, clicked and read articles, and suddenly realised you just spent two full hours doing nothing but stare at your computer (or phone)? It’s scary how these things can eat up your time, even if the articles you’ve been reading were actually useful.
Marie Forleo says: “Clarity comes through engagement, not thought.” We try to figure out our lives and move forward, and to that end we tend to collect and consume more information and learning, hoping that this will give us direction and purpose. In reality, though, only action – moving forward, making mistakes, performing course corrections and gaining ever more experience – will give us the clarity we crave.
Striking the balance
Some people reject the internet and especially Social Media altogether, but that’s throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I don’t think we should forego all the amazing benefits of the internet just because we can’t restrain ourselves and “overdose” on information. In the following, I give you some steps to take towards sanity and a productive balance between information and action.
Be smart with your online time. I used to have my email open in one tab and Facebook in another at all times when I was at the computer. Every time I saw a new notification or email, I’d interrupt what I was working on and check it out compulsively. It scattered my focus and made my work take twice as long.
These days, I check email and my social media accounts three times a day. When I receive newsletters (yes, I too am subscribed to some newsletters, just like you read Monday Sparkles!), I save them in a special folder and read them in the half-hour I have allocated each day for “educational reading”. I quickly scan through offers and promotions, reply to business and personal emails, look through my social media accounts, respond to comments etc, and then I close these tabs again. Done.
To cut it short: I recommend using the internet, but use it on your own terms and in your own time.
Spend “offline” time with people who matter. I have recently ramped up my work on my Coaching business, and whilst this is one of my passions and lights me up, it also means more time spent on my own, working, because I also have a daytime job. To balance this, I make a conscious effort to have fun in between, and most especially to meet friends “in the flesh” regularly. I often don’t feel like I’m missing something and only afterwards realise how good it’s done me to actually hug and talk to people I love.
To cut it short: Your passions are important, but so are the people in your life. Make sure to spend quality time with loved ones regularly.
Take action. Forget waiting for the right time, or until you’re ready. If you want to do something, start! Get Coaching (the shortcut to action!), get a teacher, do whatever it takes to get into action mode. If you just keep reading and learning about it, you might get smarter but you’re no step closer to actually living what you really want.
To cut it short: Stop overthinking and take a first step towards your goal today. You can thank me later!