I’ve just spent the last month off social media. I did a self-imposed 30-day social media detox challenge. No LinkedIn (of which I was a prolific user), Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… I stopped them from one day to the next. I told everyone that I needed quiet time to think and create and I would be back, at some point, no big deal.
I was hoping to free up time to write more. You and I both know that a sneaky look at Facebook can result in an hour or more lost as you chase some train of content that is so interesting that you must follow it. So, I stopped, cold turkey and you know what happened, of course, you do. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Tens of thousands of words have tumbled out of me since I gave up social media. More than I ever thought I would or could write.
My morning routine now consists of getting up at 5 am or 6 am, uploading a video (I’m doing another 30 day challenge – 30 days of 360 video), writing morning pages (from The Artists Way), which is normally near on 1000 words, then I write an article or learn something, do some yoga and meditation and then I’m off on a walk somewhere to eat and make a video and read my kindle. Later, I’ll come back and write some more.
My whole day is focussed on creating, which is exactly how I had planned my creative sabbatical to be. I have no real rules, although I do have a timetable to make sure I have something to tick off (old habits die hard), my “goal” is to create. Whether it gets read, commented on, liked, disliked, shared or ignored. My daily goal l is the same, just keep creating, day by day and at some point, clarity will come and my vision will unfold.
At least that’s the plan. Only time will tell whether doing a creative sabbatical this way is the best way to create and transform myself for the next stage, the post 40 stage of my career. All I can say that in the 30 days that I have come off social media, my growth has catapulted and my mindset has changed significantly, and for the better.
Why I did a 30-day social media detox challenge?
My intention for my creative sabbatical is to draw out of myself what I want to do next. I know it’s buried deep down there, somewhere. Pushed down by years and years of trying to succeed in the macho business world I operated in for so long. I’m trying to unlock the layers and layers of protective masks that kept me compliant, striving endlessly forward and keeping me locked on that hamster wheel of production and succeeding against all odds.
Day by day, mask by mask, layer by layer. Opening myself up and becoming more and more vulnerable by the day. Leaning into the feelings of inadequacy, imposter syndrome and the who do I think I am to even be doing what I am doing, at my age. (writing, video creation, tarot reading etc) Not numbing myself or escaping it by burying my head in social media or TV ( I also stopped TV too)
This desire, wherever it is, is so squished down that I know that it is going to take a few months to come out. Accepting that is the case is a good step and I’m proud of myself for accepting that, as it’s been tough. My old world was all about getting it gone, extreme productivity. BAM, BAM, BAM, get it finished, ready, out the door and launch.
Now I’m giving myself the gift of time, which is tough when you’ve worked in marketing and sales and your mindset has been heavily goal and deadline driven for as long as you can remember.
What’s helped me more than anything in the last month are two things. The first is coming off social media. That has helped me in more ways than I could have possibly imagined, the second is starting The Artists Way programme 2 weeks ago, which I’ll write about another time.
If you are thinking of “creating”, and you need some inspiration for detoxing of social media, then please read through the 7 gifts that doing the self-imposed 30 day digital detox challenge has given me and then think about whether this may help you to take your next step if you want to transform your life and begin the path towards creating your dream. Coincidently, through giving up on social media and taking away that pressure to perform for “love” or likes, it’s given me a sense of being in my dream right now. I’m now doing what a lot of people dream about doing when they retire. Picking up a hobby, pottering around and travelling!
If you are having feelings of fear and instability, can I also suggest you taking a look at the root chakra piece which I created this week, that may give you some insights into how to improve your feelings of security and release fear so you can make a start on creating your dream?
The Gifts that the 30-day social media detox challenge gave me
Gift 1 – Create Time from Nowhere
Like I said, the gift of not posting, not reading and not contributing to social media has probably given me 3 extra hours a day, and I’m not joking. I was not even a big user of social media for fun, more for work, but it eats into time, little by little.
That time I have traded for writing. Like I said I have gifted myself 1000’s of words every single day through not being on social media. If I am in the flow I can write 1000 words per hour. Do that every day and within 4 months there’s a 112,000-word book in rough!
Of course, I know it’s not that easy to write a book, but what I am trying to show you and verify to myself is how much extra time I’ve given myself and what I have been able to produce, just by coming off social media…
Even if you are not sat at home on a laptop like me, you can write almost anywhere. Before I started my creative sabbatical I wrote many many blog posts on the tube and buses in London. Unless you physically need your hands to hold you up or you are operating machinery or driving, then I believe you can write or create or plan your dream, instead of fiddling with your phone.
Ask yourself: What can you give up create more time? All social media? TV, Netflix? Are you really that busy?
Gift 2 – Unlock buried creative Expression
Imagine that you could create and make things for yourself and not have to show anyone? Just for you? Just to play? Imagine if no one was watching, what would you do? I think would make abstract art. I love abstract art and I really love deep, rich colour, especially turquoise and teals.
I love those colours so much I used to think about them all the time. My mum’s friend who is a legitimate artist actually painted a set of artworks in those colours and guess what she gifted me on my 21st birthday – An art piece in those colours.
Why did I never ask her to show me how to paint? Because she’s amazing at it, and so is her daughter. At school, I was told that I was no good at art, and so I was not. That was all there was too it. Would I ask a legitimate artist for help, god no, how scary! ( although I am currently working on getting past this fear)
If you are making things for you without the need to post them on social media, or in fact show anyone at all then nobody knows. You can just do this for you. No one will see it, so there is no need for embarrassment.
I bought some crayons last week and have been drawing random things every day. Am I going to show anyone? I highly doubt it, but they do add colour to my journals and it’s fun. It’s making me think more about colour. Perhaps I’ll pluck up the courage to buy some rich turquoise paint…
No one is watching, no one is judging and now I have time, I can use that time for painting too.
Ask yourself: what would you do if not one was watching? If you thought no one was judging?
Gift 3 – Exterminate Comparison Envy
Social media is an amazing tool for making you feel inferior. It has sneaky ways of getting at you. Whether it’s the new car your friend just bought, to that 10-carat engagement ring another friend got presented with, to this one or that one that is doing better at you or what you want, the lists are endless.
Sometimes it’s good to see what makes you angry or envious or anxious as these are great indicators, telling us perhaps what we should be working on. However, if all around your friends or peers are achieving great things and you are still figuring yourself out or trying to start again, it can be distracting at best and at worst debilitating.
There’s nothing quite as good as a good old dose of someone else’s wild success in your dream area to make you feel insignificant and small.
I know they say that if you want to create something new in business or in life, that you should be looking and watching whatever one else is doing and benchmarking and comparing. I know more than most as I spent years doing this in many of my roles as a strategic marketer and consultant. I even have a postgraduate degree in this topic, so I am fully aware. I even wrote a post which covers some of this last week called, “Why surrounding yourself with successful people is bullshit”.
If your goal is to make money and that is your primary goal, then for sure do that. If you want to find or transition your career into something comes from your heart and your soul, you will not find it on LinkedIn, in Entrepreneur magazine, on my blog or from your successful mentors. It comes from you and you must allow yourself time to disconnect to find it.
Ask yourself: Who or what can you eliminate that is stopping you from creating? Which friend should you drop or colleague should you stop interacting with? Why are they making you angry or jealous? Have you identified that?
Gift 4 – Sole (Soul) Creation
Any marketer will tell you that you need to be on social media to be successful nowadays. If you paid me to consult with you, I would tell you the same thing. Find your market, where your people hang out and then create for them. If they like what you are putting out, then put out some more. Analyse what your competitors are doing, find the niche that they aren’t covering and then cover that. Bla Bla Bla, test test test and it will come. Create for them and they will love you.
So why am I doing the absolute opposite of that with my own blog? Why have I come off social media? Why am I not creating what my target audience wants? It’s not that I don’t know what my audience wants. I do. I’ve done extensive research and I could probably write 10 articles that would hit the mark and very possibly get lots of hits and shares. There are hundreds of thousands of women my age that want to transition and redesign their lives.
But my goal is not fame, going viral or being hit of the month. My goal is to unlock my passion and when I truly find that, I will be a lot happier, fulfilled and have a lot more purpose. With that clarity, I will be able to help far more people with my writing because the writing will come from the heart and not the fabricated vulnerability that’s now being used and abused to win consumers hearts and minds.
I know in my heart of hearts that if I work the way that I worked before, I will get the same results. My passion and creativity will be dismissed to statistics. My value, how I base the success and quality of my work will become validated by likes and claps. My headlines will become clickbait and I will still be sat here suffering, lamenting how I ended up in the same place again, albeit in the beautiful surroundings of Bali.
In truth the day I came off social media the day the visits to my website nosedived. I was getting over a thousand visits a month and now they are sitting at about half that. Some articles do well, some get next to no visits at all. I am reliant on my newsletter and people finding my blog. Most of my family and friends have long stopped reading (as is normal) apart from my mum (thank you, mum). I’ve trained myself to stop looking at google analytics and have vowed to just write and create.
I am letting the ideas come to me, seemingly out of nowhere and then I write and publish. Like this post. My plan was to learn how to manage a YouTube account this morning. Mine is looking rather messy. But no, the idea on this post came to me while I was meditating and so here I am 1800 words and less than 2 hours later with almost a full post.
It obviously wanted to come out, so I let it. I have stopped thinking about who is reading the blog, who my idea persona is, what they want to read or needs and I’m just writing, as it comes to me.
Is that selfish? No, of course, it’s not. No one is paying me for the blog. I host it, I write it, I create it, I pay for it. Including all the restaurant and sightseeing tours. All the costs and time are mine. If people think it’s crap, then they have the choice to stop reading and never come back. If it was helpful, and they liked my style I am incredibly grateful and happy when you (they) come back again and especially if they take the time to share. It really means a lot.
It’s not that I don’t want readers, but if I write what my research told me and what the masses are looking for, then this blog will not be authentically mine. I have never been interested in what everyone else is interested in. My interests and tastes have always been more abstract and niche, so why would I create a blog for the masses?
What would you create if you were not doing it for money? what would your authentic voice be, what articles, videos etc would you make?
Gift 5 – Finding your own voice
The consequence for not being on social media and not looking at whatever one else is doing or of even following other people’s blogs is that you are more easily able to find your own voice and what gives meaning to you. There are all sorts of advice on how to find your own voice and it’s the number 1 thing that people talk about when creating content for yourself or for a business. If you have never really dug deep enough to find out what your likes, dislikes, style and so forth are, then how can you find your voice. Bombarded by media all day, it’s so easy to pick up on other people’s writing, ideas and concepts without even realising you have done it.
This happens in every genre. I spoke to a lady yesterday, who gets inspired and then uses people’s words from guided meditations. Plagiarism is everywhere, and we do it most of the time subconsciously.
The more you reduce your inputs from other sources, especially anybody that might be writing in a similar field, all the better, as your own voice is going to start coming through. To move this along faster, I’ve started to write different types of posts and experiment with other mediums. I do feel like it’s working, but for sure I have a long way to go…
Gift 6 – Not thinking about creating for social media
If you have a blog all the well-known bloggers will often say that it’s 30% content creation and 70% promotion or marketing or somewhere thereabout. That means that if you are very organised you will have a media schedule, that you create, write, set out and set to publish for a week or weeks in advance, or you are publishing every day.
Publishing on social media, generally always involves finding images and then thinking of a hundred ways to skin a cat, aka pitch your creation on social media. Unless you outsource this or are super skilled at finding images fast, this takes up a lot of time (hence the 70%).
You often don’t know what is working and what isn’t, so you have to analyse that too, even more, time spent. Then of course if your social media is not picked up on or you get little to no likes and shares, then, of course, you are going to get down and depressed.
I have saved so much time I can’t tell you on not only not posting or being on social media, but not having to think up what and how to post on every single medium. Thinking all day about having to find our go out and take photos for that piece or that piece of writing. I only need 1 image per post. So much time, worry and thought gone and I can enjoy the moment as I wander through the towns, villages and fields of Bali, stopping to have a chat with the locals.
Gift 7 – Getting away from marketing speak, and selling
I am in the fortunate position of being able to create and not ask for money right now. This blog makes no money, it costs me money. It’s the price I’m paying for having my own creative outlet. No one can ban me, stop me. I can write what I want. It’s my party and I can cry if I want to, to coin one of my favourite song lyrics!
As I am also not working for anyone right now and neither do I have any clients. I can think, write, speak what I like and no one can comment. Not that anyone ever has said anything bad on anything I’ve done on social media, but of course I was always mindful of what I wrote, so as not to offend anyone.
All my business writings leaned into helping the brands I worked with or the retailers I associated with. I weaved in subtle and sometimes not so subtle stories always with a positive twist or spin to benefit those that I needed to. It worked for sure, but I was dancing to others tunes and not my own.
Now I’m not on social media I’m not influenced by the marketing messages others are writing either. I’m not thinking about how I need to weave those into my own to “sell my words” and the attention time on my blog. I don’t have to. Isn’t that freeing? Creating just for creating.
THANK YOU & PLEASE SHARE
I hope you found this useful and I also hope I inspired you to take some time away from social media, perhaps even taking a 30-day challenge like I did. I have decided to add on another 30 days, as this one was so productive for me.
If you are interested in hearing more about creative sabbaticals, travel in Bali and even get a weekly free tarot reading, do sign up to my weekly newsletter.
How to do a 30-day Social Media Detox challenge
Here are some tips to help you if you want to do your own challenge, based on what I learnt after 30 days. Like I said I found this so useful for productivity, and for really getting on with creating, that I have decided to extend it another 30 days.
- You can either just take a break or set yourself a 30-day challenge like I have or perhaps try and do it gradually. Try a day with no social media and build up or a weekend. I’ve done shorter time periods, but this 30-day social media detox challenge was revolutionary for me.
- Set yourself a goal of something that you want to do instead that’s creative. Not clean the kitchen cupboards or your wardrobe, something that will inspire you (unless tidy kitchen cupboards inspire you, then do that). I personally think it’s good to have a positive outcome so you can see the difference. If your block on social media is to create your dream life, then decide what you need to do each day to get there and block out the time. It’s yours now, you created it!
- Forest is a super useful app, that you can download and add to your phone, to stop you looking at it all day. There’s also a stay focused app you can download on your laptop. If you think you’ll be tempted. I think the trick is to be working so hard on creating your dream, that you won’t even miss it. I didn’t miss it at all. Really zero.
- Or you could try a retreat to kickstart it. There are now plenty of Retreats on offer all around the world, that either actively discourage or block social media. Sometimes I think you need to feel the benefits of having a few days off, and then it’s easier to incorporate.
Here are some Digital Detox retreats and ideas to get you started:
UK – Wales
I absolutely love the school of life. I think I have all their books. Huge fan of theirs. They offer 3-day reading retreat, where you can hang out in their beautiful centre in Wales ( my home country) relax, listen to your thoughts and read.
I’m currently waiting to verify if they do actually still do in person retreats, but they now have a 21-day on-line course, which may be of interest to you.
A UK based company that I just discovered. The lady who started it Tanya Goodin worked in the tech industry and left and has now set up her own workshops, retreats and so on. I don’t know her yet, but it looks really good. I think you have to email for the retreat timetable.
The Humble Retreat is a mindfulness weekend hosted every month and is located at a cosy bunkhouse in the Shropshire hills. The weekend offers gentle yoga, beautiful walks, mindfulness activities, wholesome and homemade food and retreat provides a natural detox from the distractions and noise of the everyday. The Humble Retreat is hosted by Lizzie Fouracre who spent 10 years in London working for and directing a technology business before making a change and setting up space for people to restore, retreat and just be.
Kelly Brooks – Retreats in Italy, Cyprus. (London Based)
I wrote about my experience last summer here with Kelly. Kelly is one of my most favourite people and is one of the best yoga teachers I have ever had. She does loads of retreats. From the real back to basics one that I did in Italy, through to a more upmarket one in Cyprus. Plus, she does Yoga, and also mindfulness workshops in London at The Ned, Soho House Group, Google and so forth. Sign up to her newsletter or check her website and you will see.
There are also many travel agents that specialise in this kind of travel, as well as online broker type websites. It’s growing every year. Do let me know if I missed any out, that you can recommend.
These are an actual travel agent, located in London, who create specialist and bespoke tailor-made holidays. They’ve consistently been voted in the Top 10 travel agencies by Wanderlust magazine over the last 10 years.
Started in 2015 by a friendly looking guy called Vincent (whom I assume is French), he and his team started offering digital detox retreats in 2016. One of the things they do is install an app on your phone, that only allows you to take calls. Genius. It looks like they offer this to groups only as well as workshops, but if I hear different, I will update.
Book Yoga Retreats (online destination finder)
These guys are part of a bigger group called Tripaneer, a marketplace that offers adventure holidays, like yoga, surf, safaris, motorcycling, horse riding, martial arts
This is actually a media company ( publishing house) that created this website for people that want to switch off from technology. You can search for hotels, eco-lodges and retreats that specialise in No tech Zones/rooms and so forth.
The notebook in the image is from the brand Write Sketch &. It gets many admiring glances, as it’s so pretty & looks great in photos. It was a leaving gift from Huckletree, the coworking space I worked at in London.
Thanks for reading this post. I hope you found it useful. Don’t forget to subscribe, as i’ll be posting more 30 day challenges over the next weeks & months,