Unplug to Improve Self-Awareness

Many people will panic to find a charger before their phone dies, but they won't panic to find a plan before they reach their breaking point. How aware are you on the state of your own being?

Life is constantly in a state of flux, and our overuse of technology pulls our attention away from self-awareness. We need to limit these distractions because we can't be so connected to everybody that we're not truly connected to anybody, or to ourselves.

Now more than ever, you need to unplug and work on what it takes to build mental toughness. I urge you to build boundaries, introduce digital detoxes, and learn to regularly disconnect and make time to reconnect with yourself. After all, presence is a prerequisite for achieving self-awareness and maintaining our relationship with ourselves.

When you unplug, you give yourself the opportunity to take inventory of your life. You'll quickly learn to be grateful for what you have and to love yourself for who you are, but you'll also have the opportunity to compare yourself constructively to the version of yourself that you want to become.

Find out how you can unplug to improve self-awareness by listening to the full episode and reading the complete transcript below!

Ignition Point is all about making a positive impact, so please share the show with someone you think it may help. We designed this weekly podcast for ambitious Young Professionals and aspiring Leaders who want to stay motivated and keep moving forward. Throughout Season 1, we will be connecting fresh perspectives with practical strategies to help listeners feel empowered all week long. You can help us improve by joining our LinkedIn and Twitter Community by using #IgnitionPoint, submitting a review on Apple Podcasts, or emailing feedback to [email protected].

SHOW NOTES

Welcome to Ignition Point – the show that’s here to help you take the leap, conquer your week, and achieve your goals. If you’re looking to amplify your mindset with a fresh perspective and spark your momentum – you’re in the right place.

Hey! What’s going on? I’m Steven Miller. Thanks for joining me for another Ignition Point – the show where we cover an influential speech or feature a Guest Keynote that’ll get you fired up and ready to take on another winning week.

Throughout your life, you’ve probably had the distinct pleasure of dealing with some level of interpersonal drama. Just like most emotions and conflict, drama lives on a spectrum. On the tame side of the spectrum, someone you know may have sent you a text that rubbed you the wrong way. Or on the explosive end of the spectrum, you might have lived a reality TV moment firsthand, where someone in your network had a total nuclear meltdown in public, sending you running into a fallout shelter to attempt remote damage control. What sucks most about these dramatic moments is that they’re unavoidable. It becomes a question of tolerance at that point.

On the long list of things that can set us off, drama and confrontation are just two situations that can kick us off the proverbial edge. While talking about the slow-motion fall from that 300-style Spartan Kick would make for a compelling show, I’d rather share how you can prepare for these moments that catch you off guard and put your relationships in jeopardy.

Most people assume it comes down to composure, and they’ll just practice maintaining their expression in a mirror while a Drill Sergeant on YouTube barks at them. While I can’t speak to the success of that strategy, I can tell you that your ability to be prepared doesn’t come from composure because composure only controls the surface-level moments while you’re under the pressure. You need a strategy that you can apply to before, during, and after. You need to manage your relationship with yourself and build mental toughness.

The monologue I’m covering cuts right into what it takes to have greater self-awareness in this brave new world of tech distractions and constant disruptions. Trust me, it’s not going to be easy, but as I’ve said before, anything worth doing is never easy.

Let’s get after it!

THE WEEKLY MONOLOGUE

I’ve spent a lot of time in recent weeks getting to know you — and what was clear from all my detective work is that you belong to a community. Your community is where most of your stories are born, and those stories are central to the three relationships I want to talk to you about today. Your relationship with technology, your relationship with yourself, and your relationship with the world.

Let’s start with your relationship with technology. No generation has been as liberated and as connected by technology as yours. But also, no generation has been as enslaved and as distracted by technology. Sadly, you have become addicted to your devices, constant notifications, and social media. This is not some unforeseen side effect; it was always the intention that social media would consume as much of your time and attention as possible.

The addiction is so powerful that – according to a recent survey – 20 percent of millennials actually use their smartphones during sex. Maybe I should have read the instructions on my phone more carefully, but I don’t think that’s what they meant by multitasking.

Contrary to what you may think, not only is multitasking inefficient, it doesn’t actually exist. It’s just rapid task switching, where instead of doing two things at once, we simply switch between doing two things ineffectively. It’s one of the most stressful ways you can use your time, and it robs you of your capacity to notice and appreciate every moment of your life.

If you take a second to think about it, you hardly ever see anybody walking down the street who’s not also staring at a screen, talking on the phone, or, even worse, texting while walking. It’s like living in a really boring zombie movie. I used to be exactly like that myself. I remember one day; I left my apartment with a friend. I looked up and said, “What a remarkable building! I wonder when that went up?” My friend laughed and said, “1890.” Somehow, I never noticed it.

I urge you to build boundaries, introduce digital detoxes into your life, and learn to regularly disconnect and make time to reconnect with yourself. There will be many profound and fulfilling relationships ahead of you, but the relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you’ll ever have. And, like any relationship, it can’t be taken for granted — without care and attention, it will ultimately break down.

If there was one thing I wish I knew when I was sitting where you are today — it would be the important guiding truth that in the well-earned rush and excitement of life, it’s remarkably easy to forget that most important relationship. That’s because the ever-increasing creep of technology — into our bedrooms, our brains, and our lives — makes it much harder to connect with ourselves and so many of us will do anything to avoid it.

Most of us know more about the state of our smartphones than we do about the state of ourselves. I bet you know approximately how much battery remains in your smartphone right now. And when it gets below 20%, giving you the dreaded red low power alert, you begin to get anxious and desperately look around for one of the countless recharging stations we maintain everywhere around us. But how aware are you on the state of your own being? How quickly do you spring into action when you go into the low power zone?

You’ve got to recognize that life is actually shaped from the inside out. It’s the quality of your inner journeys that allow you to make sense of your outer journeys. You can master this and make it serve you, instead of the other way around.

Now more than ever, we have warning signs pointing out the rift between what we know we should be doing and what we’re choosing to do instead. What we’re lacking is wisdom.

It’s not that we don’t have enough data — in fact, we’re drowning in it. Ninety percent of the data now available to us has been created in the last six years. But how much of our collective wisdom has been made available in that time? That’s what our leaders are missing and what our public discourse really needs.

While it’s not tangible, the connection between our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with the world is so important. But please remember, it begins with yourself. As they say on airplanes, secure your own oxygen mask first.

The world will provide plenty of insistent, pleading, flashing, high-volume notifications to distract you from being in the moment. They’ll drag you down as you try to climb higher up the ladder of what the world defines as success.

The world will keep coming at you with its incessant demands, beeps, blinking lights, and alerts. There will be so few reminders for you to stay connected to the essence of who you are, to pause to wonder, and to connect to that place of wisdom in you — that place from which everything is possible. It’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, ‘No. This is what’s important.’

It’s from this place that life is transformed from struggle to grace, from information to wisdom.

If you’re lucky, you have about 30,000 days to play the game of life. That wisdom alone will put all the inevitable failures, rejections, disappointments, and heartbreaks into perspective.

If you’ve been to a memorial service recently, you might have noticed that eulogies have very little to do with our resumes and our LinkedIn profiles. For instance, here’s the sort of thing you don’t hear in a eulogy: “He was amazing, he increased our market share by one-third.” Or, “her PowerPoint slides were always so well prepared.” Our eulogies are always about what we gave, how we connected, how much we meant to our family and friends, small kindnesses, lifelong passions, and the things that made us laugh. So why do we spend so much of our lives chasing things that don’t matter?

Stop letting technology wrap you up in a perpetually stressed existence. Don’t be so connected to everybody that you’re not truly connected to anybody. Or to yourself. And don’t get so caught up in your busy life that life’s mystery passes you by.

Bring joy and gratitude into every moment — even the tough ones.

STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS

What links today’s episode and last week’s episode is your ability to make the most of the time you’ve got and be 100% attentive in any given moment. We only have so much time, and this concept – called presence – is a prerequisite for achieving self-awareness and maintaining our relationship with ourselves.

Without it, you’ll find happiness hard to come by and self-love will be practically unattainable. Because life is constantly in a state of flux and disruption, it’s crucial that you take this speaker’s advice and limit distractions in pursuit of that self-awareness.

The misconception behind self-awareness is that you only need it when there’s something wrong with you, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Being self-aware helps you understand what you need to be happy. Simply put, you’re allowed to be a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time.

So, for all the reasons this week’s speech calls out, put a digital detox into your calendar. Reintroduce yourself to the “do not disturb” feature or make better use of the “Airplane Mode” setting. Setting out time to disconnect and quiet all the alerts daily or every other day can change your life.

Now what do you do with all that quiet?

Without direction, you’ll naturally start thinking a million miles a minute because technology has trained you to demand a ton of stimulation. Your mind will start compensating for the lack of pings and alerts by overanalyzing or overthinking anything it can latch onto. The trendy buzzword for this is “analysis paralysis,” because when you overthink, you quickly spiral into a circular thought process which leaves you with more questions instead of meaningful insights.

You overthink things because your mind is an engine, and because you’re so damn smart, it’s like the engine you’d find in a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. Whenever you’re stopped, you’re going to want to rev that engine. But, revving that engine, just like overthinking, causes detrimental wear over time.

To fight this tendency, you need to find a way to slow your thinking whenever you unplug. Plenty of coaches would advise you to meditate, do yoga, or try deep breathing exercises, but I’m not big on the woo-sah, zen-lifestyle. Personally, I believe in the power of pre-planning. I’d rather go into a digital detox with one or two things to think deeply on and dedicate myself to staying focused on those topics. That means you’ve got to forget about outside judgment, and you’ve got to avoid comparing yourself to others. When you’re working on you, love yourself for who you are and compare yourself constructively to the version of yourself that you want to become.

Once you’ve made the shift to conscious contemplation, you can’t just steamroll through your thoughts by swiping left or swiping right. You need to shine a light on the qualities and traits that best benefit your relationship with yourself and the world. Just remember to stay grounded and don’t get a big ego over it. You’ve got to do this in a way that allows you to stay humble. That’s why you should spotlight BOTH the positive qualities and the negative qualities so you can establish your unique value while determining areas for improvement.

While it’s probably not PC, I call this practice “owning your bullshit and studying your successes.” When you own it and study hard, you’re able to recognize your potential while you try to identify the patterns that lead to each result. By keying in on these patterns, you can cut out the negative ones that lead to failure and learn to replicate those that achieve your desired results.

Doing that puts you in the express lane on the road to success. This hard-earned clarity will pay off in big ways if you make good use of it, but you need to keep your purpose in perspective.

Your job is not to convince others of who you are. When you take inventory of yourself and your life, your job is to earn credibility with yourself because even when no one is watching, you still are. It might seem heavy, but no one will believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. You’ve got to prove to yourself what you are capable of and start showing it in your actions.

Across your life, you’ll be held accountable by your parents, your partners, your friends, your bosses, and your colleagues. For that to resonate and mean something, you need to first hold yourself accountable. Personal accountability applies to your work ethic, your communication, your conduct, and the quality of the results that stem from your actions.

If you don’t hold yourself to a high standard in these areas, you won’t be able to see the bar others will set for you. No one will be able to value you properly unless you know your own value and can prove it. So, whenever you say you’re going to do something, follow through and do it. Procrastination is not an option.

Self-awareness requires you to figure out and know your vision, your purpose, your strengths and weaknesses, your role, your position and your goals. People who are self-aware are mentally tougher, which allows them to cope with life’s challenges. They choose to be themselves and take command of what they can control because they realize how little is actually in their control.

When you take inventory of your life, you find out how to be grateful for what you have instead of being upset over what you think you deserve. Having that relationship with yourself is another key to success, and as Michael Kitson said, “If you have it, teach it. If you lack it, seek it.”

If you’re ready to build inner strength and establish mental toughness by becoming self-aware, start by slowing your thinking, then shine a spotlight on your positive traits, search for the negative patterns that lead to failure, and earn credibility with yourself.

Many people will panic to find a charger before their phone dies, but they won’t panic to find a plan before they reach their breaking point. Take time to unplug and work on your relationship with yourself so that no situation catches you off guard or pushes you over the edge.

Ignition Point is all about making a positive impact, so please share the show with someone you think it would help. Your feedback helps Ignition Point to keep moving forward, so send me an email to [email protected] or write a review for the show on Apple Podcasts to let me know what you think.

We hold out until the end of each show to share who inspired each week’s Ignition Point for two reasons. To keep you curious and remind you to focus on the motivation. This week’s Ignition Point was adapted from Arianna Huffington’s 2015 Commencement Address at Vassar College.

Success isn’t about perfection, it’s about progress.

So, stay motivated and keep moving forward. If you put in the hard work right now – one day – you could be the one motivating the world with your story.

I’ll be looking forward to speaking with you next time on another Ignition Point.

Now get on out there and win the week!

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