Your Phone’s Alarm Clock Doesn’t Work.

In a previous post here, I discussed the importance of having restraint when using social media. Social media can become harmfully, excessively intrusive in our daily lives. If you read that post, you know that I have deleted my fb page. However, as a Realtor and a writer, I have to maintain some connectedness on the internet. Having abandoned facebook, I find I have more time available for other things. While I have more time, the temptation to be overly connected to my digital devices continues. I have realized my phone is hurting me in ways I thought it was helping.

As I went to bed last night, I set the time on my alarm clock to 4am (Yes, even on a Saturday, especially on a Saturday). I was eager to get right to work on my writing and my real estate work. However, I made one critical mistake as I fell asleep. I forgot to properly set my alarm.

You see, the night I deleted my facebook account, I also drove up to the local Meijer around 10pm, and bought a stand alone alarm clock. From the moment I decided I needed to buy a stand-alone alarm clock to the moment I came home with one in hand, there were many obstacles which could have deterred me from accomplishing this mission.

This was a very critical step in my journey to live with inspired resolve. I couldn’t let the time of night, or the fact that the electronics department was closed for the night, or the fact that some of the employees whose help I sought were uninterested in helping me stop me from doing what I felt inspired in that moment to do. I know myself well enough to know that if I did not go buy that alarm clock in that moment, I would probably never do it. But why was buying an alarm clock such an important step?

I have become convinced that if I want to live with inspired resolve, I must be less connected to the distraction of the internet and be more present in the here and now of my life. The internet has been a force for much good in the world since its beginning, but it has also become a monstrous form of living a distracted life.

Compare how the average American today spends his free time versus the average American two hundred years ago. The average American was probably working in his field, living a life of hard work and benefiting from all one can learn from reaping and sowing. If he had any free time, he was probably spending it writing letters, having face to face conversations with others, or reading classic works of literature.

How often do you spend time with a friend or loved one and give that person more than 3 to 5 minutes of thoughtful, intentional, undivided attention through listening and having discourse without ever looking at or thinking about your phone? How much time do you spend reading classic literature versus keeping your brain preoccupied or distracted on sites like Pinterest, facebook, instagram, etc. If you are like me, your answers to those questions are not very encouraging.

I got to the point with my phone that I was always aware of its whereabouts while I slept during the night. I needed my phone as an alarm clock. So I made sure it was well-charged and close by me every night before I fell asleep. I had this strange awareness of my phone’s presence at my bedside at all times. Even though I always try to wake up between 4am and 5:30am, using the phone as my way of doing that was actually hurting me. When I woke up I was faced with immediate distraction; the very thing I depended upon to wake up early to be productive is the thing that overwhelmingly tempted me with instant distraction. I woke up to spend the early morning in prayer, exercise, reading, and other early morning productive activities, and often found myself instead sitting and reading news stories or social media posts which, when I am honest with myself, are very irrelevant to me and my life.

So by using my phone as an alarm clock, I had to literally pick up the distraction and literally hold it in my hand. If I had any hope of being productive each morning, I instantly upon waking, had to be faced with a powerful temptation to be distracted and then make an active choice to deny that temptation. Why would I put myself in such a position every morning.

It was time to separate my phone from my alarm clock. It was time to put my phone to bed every night in a place that was not my bedroom. So with the purchase of a new inexpensive and simple alarm clock is the beginning of a new bedtime routine.

With a new alarm clock, it is important to remember to actually execute the change with intention and resolve. Last night, I set my wake up time for 4am. But I didn’t wake up until 7am. I was so disappointed when I discovered I overslept and perplexed about what happened. The alarm clock seemed ineffective and it was only day two.

As I got going, however, I realized what happened. When I depended on my phone as an alarm clock, I never had to reset the alarm or turn the alarm back on each night. However, my new alarm clock is different. Each night it must be switched back to the “on” position, and each morning when it goes off, I literally need to turn it “off”.

I couldn’t be more excited to have such a seemingly primitive device in the 2019 world of high tech. With this device, I am removing a deeply detrimental temptation to waste time each morning, and am forced to be more intentional about my bedtime and wake up routine. And that is what living with inspired resolve is all about…being intentional.

If you can relate to the problem of using your phone as your alarm clock, or it you want to join me in making this change, leave a comment below to let me know.

Disconnecting is The First Step to Living with Inspired Resolve

The first step I am taking in my resolve to live an inspired life is to do a little disconnecting. But it is not without good reason. Before I go any further, let me explain what I mean by “disconnecting”. While I would love to be able to completely and totally disconnect (get rid of my home wifi, all digital devices, my mobile phone, all social media accounts) my job requires me to be connected. However, there is one very important area in which I have taken the step to disconnect, and will chronicle how that is going throughout the next 30 days.

As a lifelong Chicago Bears fan, I am very excited my team has finally made the playoffs and have a good chance to make it to the Super Bowl this year. This is due in large part to their new coach, Matt Nagy. The more I learn about this guy, the more I am inspired by him. You see, Matt Nagy’s path is very non-conventional. After playing football in the now-shuttered Arena Football League, he decided to give up his dreams of football and get a regular job in the business world. He started selling new homes. However, when unpaid and low-paid opportunities popped up with the Philadelphia Eagles, he pursued them. Most people would not have taken the risk. (He had to start out with a pay cut of more than 50%). But he did. And now he is on track to possibly become the NFL Coach of the Year, turning around a Bears team with 5 wins, 11 losses last year to 12-4 this year, divisional champions, and a playoff berth. Matt Nagy chose to buck conventional wisdom and take a chance. He lived with inspired resolve.

Nagy’s example caused me to stop and ask the question: Is there some lifelong dream or passion in my life which I have put to death long ago because I believed the lie that I could never do it? As I pondered this question, I came across another interesting man who lives his life with inspired resolve. Daron K Roberts was a student at Harvard Law School. He was set to start a promising and lucrative law career. One day a friend invited him to work at a football camp for a few weeks. He fell in love with coaching football and the opportunity coaching could provide to inspire young men. He abandoned his law career and set out to become an NFL Coach. I couldn’t believe it! He resolved to pursue what inspired him. I had to learn more about this man.

After working long hard hours for little or no pay as an NFL coaching intern, Daron K Roberts eventually landed a position as an assistant NFL coach. After coaching in the NFL for several years, he now lectures at the University of Texas and is the founding director of The Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation and the author of a book called Call an Audible: Let My Pivot from Harvard Law to NFL Coach Inspire Your Transition. As I learned more about Daron K Roberts, I watched a talk he gave to a room of young college students about living with purpose. His first point in that talk was “Script don’t Scroll.” He emphasized the importance of not wasting your days away every day being closely connected to your phone scrolling through all the latest social media platforms to see what interesting thing the platform thinks you need to know next.

This got me thinking about my own social media usage throughout each day. My social media platform of choice is was facebook. I would look at it so often throughout the day that I got to a point where if I was bored, I would check fb. I am not sure but I would guess that I checked facebook probably more than 50 times per day. I would check it everywhere-in the bathroom, at my office, in line at the grocery store, in my living room after dinner when my kids were all around me and longed for my full attention, and everywhere else. The most concerning thing about this as I thought about it was (1) that I often was mindlessly scrolling through my feed while in the presence of others who need and wanted my full attention, and (2) that I was constantly connected to it. I would typically check facebook (for no good reason) within 15-30 minutes of waking up in the morning.

You may have seen this video, which has gone viral on social media, in which Simon Sinek discusses the way social media is damaging us and our whole culture. If you haven’t seen it, it is very much worth 15 minutes to watch. In it he discusses the importance of putting down our phones, not keeping them by our bed as an alarm clock, and keeping our social media usage limited. The video is enlightening and inspiring. I have seen it 3 or 4 times over the past year or two. And every time I see it, I decide I am going to delete my facebook account. And I never do.

However, after learning about Matt Nagy’s and Daron K Roberts’ intentionality, purpose, and resolve to live inspired, and being challenged by Roberts to stop scrolling and instead live a daily life of purpose, I have decided to delete my facebook account. Last night, I went into my fb settings and selected the button to create a temporary file which catalogued all my previous fb usage so that I have a record of my past posts, photos, and videos. Then I downloaded the file and clicked to delete my account. Facebook has it set up to have my information active and visible on facebook for 30 days to give me a chance to change my mind. This time facebook will not be getting me back though. I am choosing to stop scrolling and instead to script my life. I am resolving to live inspired. Facebook, by its very nature, builds into you a mindset of reacting to life instead of scripting your life. You have very little control as fb leaves you addicted to more of the same. The scrolling action invites a hunger for more scrolling. No longer will that be part of my life. I choose to be more present with the people around me and to live intentionally.

The most interesting thing about deleting my fb account is that I have had these urges to pick up my phone and check fb or to post an interesting article I found on it. At least twice in the 12 hours since I have deleted my fb account, I have come across an interesting article and began the steps of copying the url so I could share it on fb. It is amazing how much facebook has built itself its own little cozy place in my head. I have now kicked it out and it has no home with me now.

Tomorrow I will write about what other steps I am taking this month to live with inspired resolve and disconnect more from the chains of technology that occupy too much of my time. I hope you will join me and you too will live your life in 2019 with inspired resolve.

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.