I’ve always been an impulsive decision-maker.
In my teens and early 20s, I quit jobs suddenly and moved houses suddenly and maybe even broke up with a boyfriend suddenly (shhhh…we don’t talk about it).
Simon is the opposite of me – he is THE SLOWEST DECISION-MAKER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. It drives me insane sometimes – because although impulsiveness isn’t always a great attribute, sometimes you do just have to bite the bullet and make a spontaneous decision.
When we were house-hunting, for instance, the housing market in our part of England was moving incredibly fast, and houses were flying off the market before we could even get an appointment to see them. When we did get appointments, we’d look around and then Simon would want to think about it for a few days before we made an offer…which made me crazy, because to me, waiting = losing the house. (Thankfully, we finally found a house last year that we both liked, saw the day it went on the market, and made an offer on before anyone else. We live here now. All is well.)
As much it drives me crazy, being married to someone who’s a slower decision-maker than I am has been really good for me. It’s slowed me down a lot, taught me the value of researching my options, and helped me avoid making some emotional decisions. I’m not as impulsive as I once was.
But yesterday, I made an impulsive decision: I decided I’m going to stop looking at my phone for 30 days.
And then I posted about it on Instagram, which we all know makes it official.
And now I’m writing about it here. Which I’m fairly sure is legally binding.
I’ll still be using my phone to check respond to text messages once or twice a day, and keep up with my family and friends in America on Whatsapp. But starting September 1st, I won’t be on Instagram or facebook. I won’t be mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest searching for “inspiration” (aka getting super depressed that my kitchen isn’t stark white with metro tiles and half my plants are dying).
It’s actually not that impulsive. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. But why did I finally bite the bullet and decide to go phoneless for a month?
Here are just a few reasons:
1. My babies are growing up.
My youngest son is 4.5 and starting school in two weeks, and I am freaking out. I’m not really worried about him – he’s going to be fine. His big brother goes to school and he’s already been in preschool with all his classmates for a year and the school my kids go to is like a magical playground made of the hopes and dreams of baby unicorns.
The other night, I laid in bed thinking about him and his brother, and just how dang fast it’s all going by. And I thought about how they’d been playing in the backyard in the afternoon and I’d been lost down an instagram story rabbit hole again, and I had barely even looked up to watch them jumping on the trampoline.
I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty – PLEASE HEAR ME. I am the LAST person who will judge a mother for being on her phone at the park, and when I read those articles where people are judging other moms for being on their phones at the park, I get real ragey. Because I know you don’t ignore your kids all the time. I know you spend 24 hours a days with them and sometimes you just need to zone out for five minutes and watch a damn Instagram story or read an article about the Taylor/Katy feud (let’s talk about Reputation later, k?).
I’m only just saying that for me, and ME ONLY (the one person whose choices I am responsible for), I have noticed that I spend too much time on my phone lately. That I don’t look my kids in the eye enough. That they’re growing up too fast and I feel like one of those cartoon characters who’s hand-over-hand trying to grab onto a rope that is being pulled through their grasp too quickly and all the sudden the rope is gone and they are plummeting to the bottom of a ravine. Except the rope is Time and the ravine is My Kids Going to College and Kissing Girls.
2. I have work to do.
With that little tiny baby starting school next month, comes a lot more work time for me.
I feel like I have been behind on pretty much everything since 2010. And in two weeks I’ll all the sudden have 30 hours a week to myself, and I’m almost giddy with the possibility before me. I’ve told myself for all these years, when I’ve passed up opportunities in favour of more time with my kids, that there will be a time for more. A time when the boys don’t need me as much. When they’re at school and have friends.
That time starts now. Which okay, terrifies me a little bit. But also excites me.
And I don’t waste all that time I’ve been waiting for on facebook.
3. I can’t hear.
I mean, I can hear.
But the other day, I was talking to a young friend about this season I’m in. And when I say “season”, I don’t mean Summer, going into Fall. Throughout my life, I’ve had a few of these times when I could just sense something coming, know what I mean? Like there was electricity in the air and everything was about to change?
This friend, she’s 21 and doing an internship for another four months and doesn’t know what’s next. She feels kind of anxious about it. But I said to her, “Listen, maybe it’s because I’m a little bit older and I’ve been through this a few times? But there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Right now feels exciting for me. I feel the end of something happening, and the beginning of something else just on the horizon.
When I got laid off from my job as a magazine editor in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2009, Simon and I started praying really hard about what was next. I mean genuinely, on our knees, desperately, “We’re listening, God,” praying.
And we heard him. He made it really, really clear where we were meant to go, in a way we couldn’t ignore. Looking back on the last eight years, it’s obvious to us why He brought us here. I won’t spell out all the details, but we can see why it was important for us to come.
And now that we’re in this electric waiting season again, I feel reminded of how important it is to keep my ear to the ground.
I don’t know what’s coming, but if He says it, I just want to make sure I’m listening. And I don’t think he’s going to send me a facebook message…although I wouldn’t rule anything out.
4. I need inspiration.
Newsflash, guys: You can’t find inspiration on your phone.
I think sometimes we’re not sure what to do with ourselves, so we just keep on scrolling, but I’m here to tell you that if you’re looking for inspiration, that ain’t where you’ll find it.
Personally, I feel most inspired when I’m outside, by the sea or in the mountains, or wading in a river. When there is no screen anywhere near me. I feel inspired when I’m running through the fields behind my house, or watching my kids ride the zipline under the big English sky.
Or when I’m sitting in my backyard around a firepit, drinking wine and listening to Simon talk about how he’s going to solve the homeless crisis. Or when I’m drinking coffee and eating avocado toast on Friday mornings with my girlfriends.
I do those things, but I don’t do them enough. And what if I did them more? What could I write? What could I shoot? What could I create?
There are questions I’m asking myself, too.
“SHOOT,” I said to myself last night. “I’ve said I’m going to do this and now I have to do it.”
I own a business, and disappearing from view scares me to death.
What if people forget me?
What if I can’t run a business without Instagram and facebook?
I’m creating a new mentoring programme for female business owners…how am I going to tell them about it?
Is this even the right thing to do? I’ve made it my mission to be a voice of hope and authenticity on the internet…am I abandoning my post?
I know you’ve been thinking about it, too.
There are several comments on my Instagram post saying things like:
“I’ve been thinking about doing this too, but the FOMO is strong.”
“Maybe I’ll join you…”
“Ugh, I feel exactly the same way…”
See? It’s not just me.
A lot of us are thinking the same things:
We have a love/hate relationship with Instagram (but a mostly-hate relationship with facebook). We know it’s useful but sometimes it feels like we’re the ones being used.
We feel guilty when we lie down at night because we’ve spent too much time clutching our phones – our eyes are hazy and our necks hurt from looking down.
We keep thinking “if only I had more time”…but we know we spend a lot of our time scrolling mindlessly.
For some reason we feel dissatisfied with the lives we know are good and beautiful, because we hate to admit it, but we’re always comparing them with 10 other people’s highlight reels.
We want to be free.
I go on a lot about freedom.
Financial freedom, freedom to do the jobs we love, to chase the dreams in our hearts. Freedom to live the lives we dream of living. And I get all kinds of fired up about how we always have the freedom to choose.
So this is me, putting my money where my mouth is. And just trying to get myself free, so I can figure out how to get you free, too.
If you’d like to follow along on my phoneless experiment, I’ll be writing here, as well as sending out my newsletter, which you can sign up for here, if you haven’t already.