When I was a coal miner there was a time for work and a time for play.
Even though 4:30 came early every morning, I was home at 6 and had the rest of the evening to do what I wanted with the family.
If you’re in the digital marketing space, then you already know its a 24/7 job that takes a lot of work, willpower, and sacrifice on your part.
Just because you stop doesn’t mean the world stops with you, and with that, the #FOMO (fear of missing out) rears it’s ugly head and keeps you attached to the online world curating, cultivating, engaging, helping, and creating things that will keep you visible online.
That is me in a nutshell.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not an idea that is lost to all of the digital marketers. In fact, Joel Comm just wrote a promise on his blog of a sabbatical he is taking from the online world.
So this isn’t me introducing anything new. It’s just something a lot of people aren’t brave enough to try.
Don’t get me wrong. I love this job. I’d rather do this than pull cable in a coal mine any day, but at least that job stopped at one point during the day.
But I want to talk about why it was important for me to unplug, what I did to jump away from the hectic schedule, and why you need to do this every once in a while too.
In our family vacation this year we chose to head to Pigeon Forge, TN, one of the most visited National Parks in the country, and, of course, Dollywood. My kids love it so that was a no-brainer.
We stayed at a cabin called Bearfoot Memories, deep in the mountains of The Great Smokies. (If you’re ever in the Pigeon Forge area, this is the place to stay!) This cabin had everything. It was probably the best stay we’ve ever experienced there before because of this. If you’re ever in the area you should stay at this location I highly recommend it. Here’s some pictures of it.
Renew Your Creativity
Alejandro Lleras, University of Illinois psychology professor says this about taking a break.
Deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused. From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task
As this scientific study explains, we have two modes in our brain. The first mode is called “Focused mode”. This is the one you’re so familiar with right now. It helps with your learning, writing, or doing a new project.
The second mode is called the “Diffuse mode”. This mode helps us to unwind and relax. It’s those times that your mind wanders off in some sort of daydream or you’re not thinking so hard to complete something.
One would only assume that someone who does nothing but hustle all day long is the person that is going to find creativity and success faster. However, studies have shown that the diffuse mode is just as important as the focused mode.
Have you ever been doing something that wasn’t work, say reading a book to your son or daughter, and all of a sudden you get an epiphany for what you’re doing at work? It’s a breakthrough, and when it happens, it normally doesn’t happen while you are bent over your computer straining to make something work.
It usually comes to you when you’re singing like a banshee in the shower, or taking a walk of the morning.
You Need To Unplug
Every once in a while it’s going to be okay to shut everything down. You don’t have to drive five hours away and spend the night in a hotel, just take a break.
If anything, this unplugging has brought my creativity to a different level. There are things that I have thought about this past week that never occurred to me until I was playing with my kids on the air hockey table. I also got a great idea while riding the Thunderhead roller coaster with Eli. (I took his picture after he rode it, he was so proud!)
I wasn’t working. I was in diffuse mode, and I had been all week.
Reconnect With Your Loved Ones
They’re the one’s that are doing most of the sacrificing.
Sure it’s a sacrifice for you to stay online all day and all night, but the people who are sacrificing the most are the people you hang out with (or used to hang out with) the most.
Unplugging will create a more solidified environment for your whole family.
Spending time with them will not only help your creativity, but help you realize what’s really important in your life. Building a relationship with your family is the most important thing someone that’s in this industry can do. It would be sad if people who are respected in the digital space never spent any time with their loved ones.
Take the time!
Creating Memorable Moments
When you truly commit to forgetting about what’s going on in the digital world, then you’re more inclined to enjoy the moments around you, you start to make memories almost instantly.
The cabin was beautiful, as you can imagine. Complete with wrap around porch and hot tub, the whole works. One day last week we decided that the whole family would spend some time in the hot tub again (as we’d done almost every day).
We left our swimming gear outside on the wall hooks in order to keep them dry. Everyone was in the hot tub and I grabbed my shorts, put them on, and headed up the stairs to relax in the warm water. After this was all over I realized that perhaps keeping our clothes outside wasn’t the best idea.
I stepped down into the water and turned my back to Eli. At once, he began screaming “You’ve got a spider on your back!”
I thought I felt something to tell you the truth!
But after he verified what I was feeling, it felt like that spider was at least 10 lbs and crawling up the back of my spine!
I swiped at it with my hand and felt it leave.
To my horror my wife then informed me while jumping up and down that I hadn’t removed the spider, only relocated it to the back of my shorts.
“Get under the water!” she screamed, “No! Get out, it’s still on you!”
Shaking my booty like my life depended on it, I began to perform one of the most difficult and technical dance steps that would have made any professor at Julliard appreciate.
If there had been music it would’ve looked like I knew what I was doing, but in truth there was a little ball of death hanging on the leg of my shorts that I desperately didn’t want to come in contact with again.
After what seemed like an eternity, my feet finally hit the ground. However, the spider was still attached to those shorts!
I want to pause right here and remind you of the fact that I feel like I’m a pretty smart guy. I’ve been to college, earned the degrees, and written some fairly deep posts in the marketing industry…but I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how to get this spider off of me!
“Take your shorts off!” she yelled as both of my boys jumped up and down laughing gleefully at their dad acting like an idiot.
Hmm, why didn’t I think of that?
Now what do you do when you take off pants? You place your hands on either side of your waist and you peel them off of you, while bending over in one fluid motion, to keep the pants coming off.
No problem, I could handle that.
But all of this was happening so fast that, in my rush to get the swimming trunks off, I hit my cheekbone on one of those bar stools that sat outside. While I bent over to take the trunks off, I dead-centered the top crossbar of that metal chair which felt like Joe Fraizer had just taken one of his best shots at my face.
Stunned, I started to trip backwards. The trunks were still around my ankles, and I’m showing the world what I look like with my pants down.
Not one of my best moments, but thankfully no one saw because we were located in the middle of the woods.
Somewhere, there’s a squirrel that will never be the same again though.
Apparently, the spider got bored and slowly meandered away from the swimming shorts when I finally got my balance back.
“Go put some underwear on.” My wife said with a smile on her face and tears from laughing so hard.
What she doesn’t know was that when I went inside to get them I slipped and busted my rear end on the hardwood floor because my feet were still wet.
For crying out loud.
There’s Always A Story
Stories are great. It’s what marketers far and wide are preaching. Tell a story that’s meaningful and you’ve built a customer and fan base. Tell a story that’s meaningful AND personal, and you’ve built a customer and fan for life.
These moments are out there for you to grab, yet you may be worried that people won’t pay attention when you get back.
You may never get them anyway if you can’t dig up stories that captivate and engage people to see more into your personal life.
Brand and businesses that allow that sneak peek inside the windows of your life are the one’s that are going to do well in their online marketing.
The results of my unplugging lit a fire underneath me to catch up to something I enjoy doing so much. Talking about social media psychology, creating a podcast that will be live soon called The Social Brain (Go sign up on the waiting list!), and pivoting just a touch from where my marketing used to be to where its going to be.
It’s good to get away, to unplug from everything because it gives you new perspective and allows you to refresh yourself and see things you may not have seen otherwise.
So go take some time for yourself. You need it.
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