Look around, I mean on the internet. Our resilience for our Covid circumstances and our need for humor and connection in life are pretty evident. No matter what we’re doing, our sense of confusion and our need for support is expressing itself in our actions.
On a daily basis, our children and us are engaging in attachment-seeking or connection-seeking behaviors. We’re seeking refuge in making / watching Tiktok videos or challenging others who don’t agree to our political views on Twitter. We’re educating ourselves on one tab and entertaining ourselves on another.
Behaviors can be divided into two types. Compulsive and Avoidance. Compulsive can be our obsession with our phones and Avoidance can be our lack of interest in working for an upcoming deadline. Whatever the behavior might be, addressing the underlying root cause for our motivation or lack of it, is important.
Here are strategies that will help you to look at the bigger picture. Instead of only talking about all the behaviors we can avoid, let’s also talk about what we can be doing instead.
Atleast once a week, tell someone, “I need help.”
Our conversations online are linear and lack that aspect of human interaction that appeals to our cognition – body language, touch etc. Touch is anthropological. It comes to the rescue when you can’t see visible signs of trauma. So, once a day, ask someone, “How are you?” and mean it. Chances are you might get a genuine response, because everyone is craving deep connection with others.
Most often than not, you’re possibly not the first person to get into a predicament or a nightmarish situation. Ask yourself, does this problem already have a solution? That’s your first step in resolving it. Ask for help and direction from mentors, friends and elders and strangers. Learn through accumulated wisdom. We’re already doing it, we owe so much to our previous generations for building tools and infrastructures in place for us to make the quality of our lives so better.
And one more thing. Asking for help might be the single most important thing you will do that might mean life or death. Tell your parents how you feel. They have a right to know.
Uni-tasking and the cost of task switching.
First of all, we are not computers. So let’s stop multitasking. As knowledge workers this is an essential skill to develop. The smartphones in our pockets are high powered machines that can multitask several processes in the background. But as humans, we are juggling many hats – work, personal life, family obligations. The call for action is to focus on one aspect of your life at any given time of the day. And for that amount of time that will either complete the task at hand or finish part of it that you had intended to before beginning it.
Here’s the full story, the cost of mental juggling have been researched in the recent past. American Psychological Association says that even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time. This is what they have to say: “Throwing in a load of laundry while talking to a friend will probably work out all right. But, losing just a half second of time to task switching can make a life-or-death difference for a driver on a cell phone traveling at 30 miles per hour.”
Attitude matters more than actions in times of uncertainty.
Whatever might be the problem, here are some cold hard facts. The world will always keep changing and we will always have problems. That’s the only constant in our lives. Then why not think solutions and not worry about problems. Why not think of the next steps ahead of us instead of mulling over the persistent condition?
Let’s start with thinking of ourselves as problem solvers. That’s an empowering thought. Now, let’s internalize this. “I’m down for anything. That’s just easy instead of fighting everything.” When faced with an adversity, challenge or catastrophic situation, thinking of what we can do instead of what could have been is going to be imperative.
Pockets of silence that boost creativity.
You can create massive momentum while staying still. Did you know animals cannot plan for, decide, imagine and act on things that are not present in the room with them. But, as creatures with advanced brains, even while not acting, we can still plan, imagine and decide for future actions. That’s how you can make passive actions pay you off.
When you are tempted to “mind wander” in the name of harmlessly reaching for your notifications, think of what you have made out of your hour, your day. Maybe a little silent break will squeeze out a solution to a nagging problem you have been having. There must be some area in the world of art or science or product management or people management or sales that you are good at and that you can excel beyond your own imagination. Focus on the action and as you are building brick by brick, the bigger picture will emerge soon. The awareness to managing time gives us the ability to focus and prioritize our tasks. Completing tasks without procrastination in turn makes us less anxious, fearful, and let down.
Self-awareness and tech behaviors go hand in hand.
Did you know today, an average person consumes 174 newspapers worth of information in a day? Do you really need all that junk in your life?
Analyze yourself. Why don’t you stay on task? Is it boredom or difficulty? Is it the tedious task or is it the tempting screen that shows what’s next on Netflix?
Have you been multitasking too much lately? Learn about attention residue and the cost of constantly switching tasks and its effects on personal growth and productivity. Are you doing deep work for long durations or doing shallow work for short durations? Do something exciting in real life so you don’t have to reach out to your phone all the time.
Create an environment that aids positive contributions.
Control your environment. Take away the temptations. Remove any and all distracting stimuli around you. Remove apps that are the major distractors and remove easy access to them. Disable notifications for news. Our devices might feel like powerful machines we have in our control, but we’re becoming dangerously tethered to them.
We use our homes and our minds as refuge for our trinkets and our emotions. As a result our lives are clogged with clutter and memories that paralyze our actions. We gather conditionally, by creating occasions likes birthdays, holidays, travel and even garage sales. But, we only discard conditionally. Decluttering helps narrow your focus and sharpen your priorities.
Is your environment a true reflection of what your tastes are?
Set yourself free from what’s holding you back.
Kindness energizes us when we are in its company. Compassion reduces stress. Self-compassion gives us a sense of freedom. Educate your heart by feeding it positive emotions. The amount of kindness is far greater than the amount of violence the world faces. It just doesn’t make it into the news always. Give yourself permission first so you can be available for your children. Set yourself free from unrealistic expectations from yourself, family and society.
When we speak and act our personal truth and values, we’re living in an authentic way. We begin to live in a “No conflict” zone, where our thoughts, words and our actions are aligned.
Here’s what can be confusing. “Should I just be one thing to be authentic?” No, our authentic self can be flexible & firm, fierce & forgiving – all at once.
Authenticity is also how we validate ourselves, build our personal brand, and fuel our confidence. Just how well do we know ourselves?
Build insights and work on competing goals.
By looking at how countries deal with global problems, it’s easy to gain a cultural insight into solutions. Partner, seek out and collaborate with different people who’re striving for similar goals. After all, almost all of us have been victims of uncertainty, inequality and terror. Seek intrinsic motivation to create, while seeking extrinsic motivation to innovate and collaborate.
Let’s say we’ve to work on building housing for low income families. But there’s a catch, you’ll have to use sustainable and renewable forms of energy while powering the utilities. Working on such challenging goals with limited options and resources makes us mindful of a lot of aspects of problem solving that will otherwise be overlooked. Looking at a problem through a narrow set of available choices yields better results.
Think leaving a remarkable footprint in your wake.
Whether you’re upto working for the common good of humanity, or don’t care for such a thing, the best thing you can do in your self-serving life is not to create damage in the world than there is already. When in control, don’t act in a way of unconcern and resentment of others. When you know you’re responsible for your actions and have things under control, just do things the right way. There’s no two ways about it.
Most importantly, associate yourself with a cause greater than you. Having a purpose makes us resilient. It drives us forward when our world is shattered by violence and tragedy. Having a purpose empowers us with the courage and confidence to thrive inspite of obstacles. What more? Having a purpose is a sure fire way to finding happiness.
Here’s the bottom line. You can live life on your own terms, but can’t live in a way that disrupts other people’s lives. So play your part as a good community citizen. Allow others into your life to bring a fresh perspective. Together lets work towards bigger problems like the effect of climate change and tech disruption on a global scale. They are big problems that need solutions which can have a massive impact.