The Circle of Death.
While I am quite certain this was the name of a drinking game I played in college, I now have a new definition for the “COD”.
I have learned to master it – and I’ll share how I did it – but first let me tell you about this electronic circular nemesis to see if you can relate.
The COD I refer to steals my peace.
It interrupts my ability to be present.
It controls my thoughts by demanding my attention.
It introduces issues at inopportune times.
Basically, the COD jacks up my flow. (To put it in, you know, scientific terms)
The circle I am referring to is what our friends at Apple innocently refer to as a “badge”.
That small red circle that perches on the upper right hand corner of each App on your device.
The number inside the Circle of Death is like a mini scale telling you exactly how stressed you should be about this particular App.
Here’s how I interpreted this scale:
Red circle with a single digit = normal levels of cortisol.
Red circle with a number >30 in the center = irritation with a side of elevated heart rate
And (heaven forbid) triple digits = immediate cause for stop, drop, and roll
I don’t remember if my Blackberry had its own version of this ‘feature’ but it’s safe to say that I have spent the better part of the last 7 years engaged in a game of whack-a-mole with the Apple badge notification before deciding that I needed to make a change.
This idea came to me on accident.
I had committed to breaking the habit of checking email/social media first thing in the morning and I had posted about it on Facebook because; accountability.
A former colleague recommended that, to help me not feel tempted to check my phone, I turn off the “Badge Notification” on some of my apps.
I assumed that I would need to call upon a small dose of herculean willpower to ignore those little red numbers while deep breathing my way through the irritation and rising blood pressure.
It had never occurred to me that there was another way.
(Spoiler alert: there’s ALWAYS another way.)
I shared this new strategy on Facebook and the overwhelming response from my peers (all, like, six of them) was horror. “But what if you MISS something!?” they asked, half terrified, half disgusted.
I read their comments (aka warnings) and mentally shrugged.
I don’t know. Didn’t seem like THAT much damage could be done.
I could always turn them back on …?
So I made the brave pilgrimage into the settings of my iPhone and disabled ALL of the notifications for everything that I deemed “extra” to a phones primary purpose. My phone and I had a “come to Jesus” conversation. I her she was allowed to alert me of phone calls and text messages because her flip-style predecessor had done this without stressing me the heck out and the world kept turning. I laid down the law that my iPhone and I were going to follow these same rules.
No more Circle of Death.
I am proud to report that I have not missed a single thing.
I am also happy to tell you that I can look at my phone any time of the day and not feel an ounce of stress. I can actually see my phones background because it’s no longer cluttered by electronic acne and I quite like it.
This is what it ALWAYS looks like:
I have made this recommendation to several people are each has offered favorable feedback.
None of the people I have suggested this to had asked me about ways to better manage their technology (not my area of expertise!) and none of them would’ve sited this as a cause of stress or anxiety – yet each one has found it a helpful strategy for feeling less anxious.
Consider that more peace could be a simple system setting away!
PEACE & LOVE
“We don’t know who discovered water, but we know it wasn’t the fish.” – Marshall McLuhan*
Do you have a goal or dream that you’re ignoring because you’re not sure you’re worthy of it? Have you ever considered one of your aspirations only to think “but who am I to accomplish this?”
This is your wake-up call!
That goal or dream is yours for a reason! It’s calling you to fulfill it! And the fact that you have it, the reality that it ever danced across your brain, that’s the goals way of telling you “you’re enough!” and “start moving!”
Allow me to recap the serendipitous conversation that jolted me awake to this same conclusion…
I was chatting with a girlfriend and I was telling her about my attempt at starting this blog. I was explaining how it’s been a serious challenge to come up with topics to write about.
Luckily for me she replied with the BEST. THING. EVER.
She said “I know, I’ve thought about writing a blog too, but seriously, what would I even write about? Kindness!?”
The reason this was so helpful for me was because I would never in a million years think to write about kindness – and I still don’t intend to! Don’t get me wrong, kindness is fantastic and I am a fan! I just don’t care to be the Subject Matter Expert on Kindness – but she does!
She made that “but seriously, what would I write about?” comment so authentically that it was a total ‘fish didn’t discover water’ experience. My friend was innocently projecting her natural inclination and interests onto me (and the rest of the world)! I could practically hear her thought process of “writing about kindness wouldn’t make me special – anyone could write about kindness!” #mindblown.
So I started to wonder… how often do we keep quiet because we think “well surely everyone is thinking this”?
How many blog posts go unwritten because we shrug and ask ourselves “who wouldn’t write a blog about ‘kindness’?”
Me! I wouldn’t! So, please – you write it – we need you!
I feel like this epiphany has Seth Godin written all over it. This is my favorite quote from the book “Linchpin”:
And this is a quote that I have displayed on my vision board:
And yet even as I write this I am still working through it myself. It’s not easy to discover the water as a fish – but we must keep trying!
Are you ready to take on this challenge with me?
Consider these 4 steps to get started:
- Share your goals and dreams. Authentically share the things you expect people will hear and react with either a “well, duh, me too!” or a “you really think you can do that?!”
Ok. Right. That’s probably scary. So start small. Grab a trusted friend who’s into self-development too and do the exercise together! Each come up with something you feel is a “moonshot” and something you believe “everyone” (including you) wants. Share and see what happens. My guess is that you’ll end up learning something interesting about your friend and encouraging him/her to go after what they want! I bet that they’ll hold up that same mirror for you.
- Take steps (any steps) toward your goal! I believe we grossly overestimate the competition and underestimate ourselves. I think we also miscalculate the length of time and level of pain it will take to accomplish what we want. The only way to correct these errors in judgment is to step into the arena. See the competition firsthand and throw yourself into the training regimen. Don’t overthink. Just act. Just move. Remember, the very fact that the goal is whispering in your ear is reason enough… because that same goal is not whispering in mine!
- Practice intentionally taking a step back. Practice awareness of the water. Remember that the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable. Don’t dare let that go to waste!
- Embrace abundance. We need to know that there is ‘enough to go around’ in order for this to work!
If I operate from a place of lack (i.e.: there are a finite amount of goals that can ever be accomplished/wishes granted/dreams fulfilled) then I will believe that you accomplishing your goal decreases my odds of achieving mine.
I would guess this is one of the reasons we miss those golden opportunities for encouragement so often! If I project that you have the same dreams as me (if I believe you want to blog about ‘kindness’ too) and I believe there are a finite number of dreams fulfilled, then I will be less likely to be open with you about my plans, goals, and insecurities thereby giving you no opportunity to help and encourage me (and tell me that you don’t actually want to blog about ‘kindness’… at all).
When you understand and embrace abundance you understand that someone doing the exact same thing that you hope to do – even if they’re doing it with a greater skill level than you’re currently at – only increases your opportunities to be great!
The Backstreet Boys and N’Sync didn’t steal market share from one another… they expanded the market. (Forgive that ridiculous analogy… but I do think it applies.)
There are an unlimited number of dreams that can come true.
The world has made it so damn easy for you to be remarkable.
Please, do not settle.
Step back. Look for the water. Be you. You have work to do.
PEACE & LOVE.
*I know absolutely nothing about Marshall McLuhan so I am not certain if this is the correct attribution. I googled. This is what I came up with.
If I’m looking for a specific destination – let’s call it a Spa (for no other reason than I would love to be on my way to a Spa right now) you and I both know that in order to find said Spa, I need to drive to the correct address.
Now let’s say this Spa is located in Highway L but I’ve decided to drive on Highway F instead. I’m circling and circling, pulling illegal U-turns, becoming impatient and increasingly frustrated and maybe muttering some choice words under my breath. “This is not fair!” I might say to you, if you were unfortunate enough to call me during this fiasco. “I’ve been driving for hours and I still haven’t gotten there!” “My car! My GPS! My (fill in the blank)!”
If you were watching this scene unfold you’d probably laugh… well, let’s hope you’d feel a little badly for me and perhaps also try to help… but ultimately you’d agree that this is just silly.
“You can search all day for that Spa on Highway F” you might say – in a calm, caring but challenging tone “and you still won’t find it. It’s not you, it’s not your car, it’s not your GPS (well.. bad example) it’s not whatever else you’re cursing about, girlfriend. You’re just on the wrong road. The Spa is on Highway L, you’re on Highway F, and that’s all there is to it. Nothing personal. Just change roads.”
You’re never going to find a destination by driving up and down the wrong Highway. It. Simply. Won’t. Happen.
Same goes for energy.
And the energy blindspot can be as painful as this one.
The energy you carry with you is the road you’re driving on. Just like you need to sync your physical bod with your psychical destination, so too must you sync your energy with your desired result in your everyday life. If you’re not in sync, you’re not on the same road, and whatever you’re looking for will continue to elude you.
Not sure what energetic road you’re driving on? There’s an easy way to find out:
- Bring awareness to your thoughts. As complex as we like to think we are, all of our thoughts stem from two places (Yep. That’s it. Just two.) FEAR or LOVE. These can also be identified as LACK or ABUNDANCE. Try to stop a thought in its tracks and examine it. Is it coming from fear and lack? If so, consider than you might just be on the wrong road.
- If it’s difficult to notice your thoughts (I get that) try this one: read your outgoing text messages. What are you talking about most often? Where are those ideas rooted? Are they coming from a place of gratitude? Or a place of desire?*
Trying to change your situation for the better while carrying around energy stemming from fear and lack is as hopeless as trying to find a destination while driving on the wrong road. The fix is simple – but not always easy.
I may not want to switch to Highway L in order to find the Spa. Maybe it’s far. Maybe I’ve already spend sooo much time on Highway F… and it’s going to cost more gas money to get all the way over there! (Lack, lack, lack.) And yes, all of that may be true. So I can park my car if I must. Bang the wheel. Scream it out. But I need to know that nothing is going to change until I decide that I want to be on the right road.
There are MANY ways to course correct and get back into a productive flow of energy. I personally dig gratitude but the bottom line is anything will work if you work it. The simple act of noticing your thoughts and assessing them as FEAR or LOVE will begin to get you back on track. True awareness at this level can make for a tough exercise, so be gentle with yourself. Remember “You’re just on the wrong road and that’s all there is to it. Nothing personal. Just change roads.”
(*Desire is a tricky word – we can get into that more a little later…)
PEACE & LOVE.