A few months ago, someone sent me the following challenge…

“You know that thing you’re afraid to talk about? That’s the thing you should be talking about.”

Well, I’m finally ready to put this into practice, focusing on the area of addiction. Yep, you read that correctly. Addiction.

The word ‘addiction’ is often considered a dirty word, something that only affects other people. Truth is, I reckon we’re all addicted to something.

Note: this post is also on LinkedIn — please read and interact here if you use this platform :-)

The NHS website defines addiction as…

“…not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you.”

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing how addiction impacts my life, part of a new-found commitment to make life decisions based on hope rather than fear, however nerve-wracking this may be. Why am I doing this? To play my part in breaking down stigmas and being more open about the realities of real life.

This is my first instalment, starting with an area most people will be all too familiar with.

“Addicted to information”

It’s hard to explain, the constant nagging. It’s like an itch that won’t go away, the incessant need to know more, right now.

My curiosity towards life and my need for information is, well, insatiable – a restless rhythm inside me. I’m an information addict and my smartphone’s my dealer. Like a modern-day garden of Eden, the digital tree of knowledge is terrifically hard to resist, apple symbol and all.

It starts when I wake up and doesn’t stop until I’m asleep. I’ve tried quelling the addictive dopamine hit of constant phone checking by wearing a smartwatch, but this made no real difference.

The all-in-one all-in-one

As is commonplace, my smartphone’s become my go-to for everything: communication, news, social media, music, video, photography, reading, note-taking, task management, calendar, passwords/MFA, finance, weather, home automation, selling stuff, maps… the list goes on and on. It’s an ever-present, ever-nagging companion.

I see the impact on my children, too, through ever-increasing phone and device usage in their education and everyday lives, despite our best efforts to limit and regulate.

Slow burn

Slowly but surely, over the last 13 years my sense of digital normality and healthy screen-related behaviour has shifted, to the point where the thought of being without my smartphone instils genuine anxiety; some would call this FOMO, but for me it’s more fundamental than that.

Add to this the current threat of Coronavirus and my addiction kicks into overdrive, constantly compelled to check for the latest news updates. I don’t think I’m alone in this.

Generation 1

I clearly remember my foray with the first-generation iPhone in 2007. Ever the early adopter, I felt immense excitement unwrapping my sneaky new purchase. I remember the sight of the blue-tinted globe flashing into view on the touchscreen, the likes of which I’d never seen before – it was the start of something revolutionary.

Determination isn’t enough

I’ve since had many attempts at reducing my smartphone usage, such as deleting apps, setting time limits and locking my phone away. They’ve never worked – I always end up slipping back, especially with the increase of social media and ever-expanding device functionality. The way we consume life in 2020 makes it so damn hard to put these things down.

Turn the lights up

The other day I had a lightbulb moment… rather than focusing on suppressing the urge to check my smartphone, why not focus on the urge itself, question its nature, what’s causing it, and what it’s really seeking to satisfy. Learn to sit with the feeling, without taking any action – allow it to push and provoke, without doing anything to make it go away. Come to terms with it—name it and call it out into the light. This will be my first step, more than enough for now.

Coupled with the above, I’m intrigued to remember and revisit what it was like before the smartphone era, of how our minds worked differently, when all that existed was the ability to text and call.

Out of sight, out of mind

To help with this, I’ve reverted to using an old Nokia 3310, with my smartphone relegated to the glove compartment of the car; it no longer has a SIM card, so GPS and offline music player duties only.

It feels like an odd, backwards thing to be doing, but my hope is it’ll provide some interesting insights over the next few weeks and help me tackle my information addiction head on.

Keeping it simple

My aim is to do this for an initial period of 4 weeks, with all internet use limited to computer and tablet only. This has admittedly already caused some panic, which just goes to show how much I need to go through with it.

There will undoubtedly be challenges along the way, not least replacing much-loved smartphone functionality and associated habits with alternative ways of getting stuff done. I’ll share a few updates and insights as time passes – it’s going to be interesting.

I’d love to see more people being open about life-related stuff like this, hence my vision called MakeLifeClick.

Get in touch?

Fancy a coffee and a chat about people, purpose, vision, business ideas/opportunities and perhaps even life in general? Drop me a message — you never know, we may have a few things in common…