It’s OK to be anti-social!
Last week my family and I took a short 5-night vacation cruise, and while we are seasoned cruisers, this one was different.
We turned off the internet!……
I actually heard you gasp.
Yes, we turned the Internet off for the entire trip. No data, no email, no text, no social media. We disconnected, to reconnect. And it was SO much fun!
I felt like I was skipping school, like I’d run away from home, or like I was in an endless game of hide and seek where nobody could find me.
Now for those of you that have heard me speak at an event, you would know that my one goal everyday is – as soon as the kids’ schooling and sport is done, we are out on the beach playing games, making sandcastles, looking for ‘unicorn’ shells, or just going for a walk.
I work from home, our children are home schooled, and we travel much of the year as a family when I work, so it’s not that we don’t get a lot of time together. However, as an entrepreneur and speaker, when you disconnect from the world, you very quickly come to understand your real role and responsibility is to reconnect as a family unit.
For our entire vacation we played trivia and quizzes with real people, had meals together that we did not take pictures of, we could not check in as we’d checked out, the only thing we posted was for our suite to be made up, and the only text I read was in the handful of race car magazines I took on board that I’d not got to for over 9 months.
Was there an element of anxiety surrounding this experiment? Not from my wife Dominique, nor our two young children – Charlize our 6 year old, and Bailey our 8 year old. (Neither has entered the cell phone society – yet). I was the only one having a panic attack.
Someone might need me / want to book me for a speaking engagement. I’ve got board meetings next week and board papers to read. I’ve got blogs to write. The TV station might call for a comment – THE SKY MIGHT FALL, DOGS AND CATS MIGHT START PLAYING TOGETHER, AND TOM CRUISE MIGHT STOP DOING HIS OWN STUNTS.
Interestingly, none of that really needed my attention. It was covered. I didn’t NEED to be across everything. And after all, it was only for a few days.
Here are the 7 lessons I learnt from the experiment.
Anxiety is your enemy
Anxiety will be the single thing that stops you from your own antisocial experiment. I was fortunate that we were on a cruise so there was some mental separation from the world just by being at sea. I just kept convincing myself, with some creativity, that – ‘they can’t reach me anyway’.
Set your pace
Find a new rhythm in your day, and find new (read, old) ways to fill your newfound time. It’s amazing just how much time you create when you’re not checking something you checked only 60 seconds ago.
Watch this space
Use the head space for something creative / productive / interesting / strategic – insert any word you like here. Just don’t fill it with reality TV to keep your mind from the real world.
Reflect and reboot
Once past the anxiety phase, I found myself in a moment of reflection. Casting my mind back over all of the things I liked to do, but had since replaced in my life with a screen. The feeling of ‘reboot’ was very rewarding.
Engagement, is the energy you seek
While my wife Dominique joked about our experiment on social media when we returned, there was an element of truth, and irony, in her post. We did find ourselves re-engaging in some old school family activity – playing cards and board games, dinner conversation, and long walks around the boat for no reason other than to ‘people watch’, live.
Form new habits
On stage I will typically ask one last question before the end of my presentation – ‘armed with this new information, what will you change?’ So our experiment would have been all for naught if I did not ask the same question of myself when we got home. And yes, I have set some changes in motion.
Plan the next one
Set aside we have children that have both seen 20+ countries, we all exclaimed that this was the most fun we’d had in a long time, and so good for all of us that we’ve already started to plan another antisocial sabbatical.
If I had to simply summarize our little experiment, it would have to be the way I started this story – it’s Ok to be antisocial.
Troy Hazard on business strategy, growth and change. He has owned 12 companies over many years, and has consulted to 300+ companies in 16 countries.