The Last Disconnected Decade

If you win the rat race, you are still a rat- Lily Tomlin

Over the weekend I dove into some old notes I saved from high school. I thought it would be cool to look at back at them one day so here I was.

My wife and I are following the KonMari method of tidying our house from Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Our house is completely transforming and the amount of things we are parting with is absolutely amazing! It is now filled with items that bring us joy which of course should be the point of having things!

As we were going through the exercises I came across a metal box. It was like an old file box. I opened it and inside was a ton of small folded up notebook paper. As I started digging into it I realized that these were all little notes we used to pass back and forth back in high school. The dates on these notes were from around 1996. Over 20 years ago!

As I started reading through them, I became strangely overwhelmed with some very interesting emotions that I was not anticipating. These notes were from all kinds of different friends, girlfriends, crush’s, and family members. These notes were from the last decade before the tidal wave of internet, social media, and smart phones changed our lives forever.

I’m so grateful to have lived in that decade. I was 10 in 1990 so I got to live my adolescence out in that time period.

Although some of the emotions I was feeling were just me reminiscing about old memories, there was another random emotion coming over me. It was one of sadness.

Something was lost once that decade was over. That was the start of losing depth and connection. That was when the snowball of being connected but yet feeling disconnected started. An interesting dilemma.

It’s amazing that we used to take the time and write a decently long hand written note to friends and family and then they would write one back. Some of them were really about nothing but others had some absolute amazing depth and emotion attached to them. In fact, at the end of one of my friend Julie’s notes, she stated, “smile and laugh lots today”.

You can’t get that same flavor in an email. You definitely can’t get it in a text message or a snap.

Before I go all “good ol days” on you, take notice that this is an actual real issue going on in our world today. It’s easy for me to look back at my high school years and say, “Man, those were the best days”. Of course they were! I was 15! But my sadness was coming from and inner battle I’m going through right now, maybe along with everyone else.

How can I stay relevant and up to date with all the technology there is at our fingertips and use it as a tool to help me stay deep with the things that matter most?

One of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you’ll achieve extraordinary results. — Cal Newport

I’m currently rereading Deep Work by Cal Newport and in it he talks about depth is actually becoming more valuable in our world today. Mostly because no one is doing it!

Non distracted, deep work is actually rare. Sounds crazy doesn’t it!

How often do you go deep with a task with zero distractions? Let’s be honest. How often do you take 3 or 4 hours, or even a day, or a weekend to go deep with something without ANYTHING distracting you? I would bet, that there are very few people that actually do that.

Who really enjoys their distracting email inbox? Have you ever heard anyone say, man I can’t wait to dive into my email and solve all the worlds problems and read those hundred of newsletters I get. Nope! Doesn’t happen.

Your email inbox is a perfect example of non depth. Throughout the day, we are constantly distracted by all different kinds of pings, dings, emails, and rest of the noise. These wonders of today’s society are drawing our attention away from what matters most. All day we have what Cal calls, residual distraction, which means our brains are always thinking about all the previous tasks we keep bouncing back and forth on. Our attention, willpower and brain power, all have finite resources that get depleted. Right from the moment you wake up, your brain starts rocking! But just like the gas tank in your car, it’s starts using fuel.

The more we use our brain power for the things that don’t matter, but we think matter, the more tired, less creative, and less powerful our brains become.

Willpower is not on will call- Gary Keller

Here is the real dilemma. Depth takes a lot of work! It’s really hard! Candy Crush isn’t hard at all. Solving someone else problems or putting out fires over email isn’t really all that hard either. Right now, a lot of you reading this, have tons of emails from all kinds of people that want your attention. They will do anything and everything to try and steal this precious resource. In fact companies spend billions of dollars to try and get this precious resource from you.

So it’s WAR!

A war to gain our clarity back. Some have figured it out already. They are the hard ones to get a hold of. They understand the importance of shutting off and going deep!

It’s amazing when I tell people I go on vacation and leave my phone at home. They think it’s impossible! They need to be connected. What if an emergency happens? How do I find a good restaurant to eat at? How do I know how to get from point A to point B?

What did they do in 1960? They figured it out!

I like being progressive! I love technology and what it can do to help you be more productive but not at the expense of losing my attention, depth, creativity, presence, and the ability to live intentionally.

Here is my challenge to you! Let your inbox fill up! Let 48 hours go by before responding to an unimportant text. Set aside a very strict time for you to dive into social media and when that time ends, STOP. Start writing hand written notes to all different kinds of people. It doesn’t have to be fancy! In fact, the less fancy it is, the better. That means it most likely came from the heart. Be the exception. Remember that most of the people in the world will NOT take any of this advice. But the one’s that do, are the one’s that are going to fight and win this distraction war with me.

They are the creators, the deep divers, the adventurers, the enthusiastic life livers.

Write a hand written note on a piece of notebook paper every day this week and leave it on someone’s car, or hand it directly to them, or toss it in the mail. Although it’s a small gesture, you will be making a huge impact in the world. Join me! Be the exception!

For the audio portion of this: