Hand over your passwords…
When my 28th birthday rolled around, I had a pre ‘mid-life crisis’.
I came to the stark realisation that I had failed to achieve a large part of what imagined I would have done at this point in my life.
No 6-figure business, no house and definitely no six-pack abs. Superficial goals perhaps, but they were the items on the list I made as a teenager when I was asked “what do you want to be when you grow up”.
So I did what millennials do best — whipped out my iPhone and headed to the notes app. “No Regrets — 30 under 30 Goals”.
I knew that to stand any chance of achieving my goals, I needed to start making immediate changes to my lifestyle and habits.
I headed straight over to Amazon and searched under the productivity section for some revelation and came across “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. I’m sure at this point it is already a classic.
If you are unfamiliar, Atomic Habits is a book is filled with advice about how to build positive habits and break bad habits. It has sold over a million copies.
I had an audible credit left, so rather than forking out for the paper copy I bought the audiobook.
A couple hours in I already felt great, like the sound waves carrying each word to my ears are the gigabytes of my human software update.
I even listened to it whilst ferociously scrubbing dishes in the kitchen, mentally cataloguing the changes I need to make in my life.
Peak productivity, right?
Many of the pieces of advice in the book make sense. Remove distractions. Start small. Surround yourself with people striving to achieve the same goals.
Then I heard this bombshell:
“Every Monday, my assistant would reset the passwords on all my social media accounts, which logged me out on each device. All week I worked without distraction. On Friday, she would send me the new passwords. I had the entire weekend to enjoy what social media had to offer until Monday morning when she would do it again.”
I pondered… How much time do I truly spend on social media? How could I repurpose that time to achieve my goals?
Can I really survive 5 days without checking Facebook, Instagram or Twitter when currently my track record boasts compulsively reaching for my phone every 15 minutes.
As anyone who puts this into practice soon realises, it turns out I don’t need to mindlessly check social media every hour and neither do you.
I resolved to focus on tasks that enhance my real world experience and catch up on social media on weekends.
After checking my screen time, I thought hey — why not?
I handed my phone over to my wife and she changed the passwords, one by one.
It’s been a week so far. Here’s what I did instead:
Spent time learning
Now that I wasn’t just endlessly scrolling through social media, I became deliberate about what I was consuming.
I thought about topics that I was interested in and started to research them. Articles I found that were relevant or useful I saved in Pocket for later reading.
I learned about setting up a business, business bank accounts, tax and building a website.
Started a business
Since learning about the importance of building multiple streams of income, I realised I needed to start a business.
It is ridiculously easy to set up a limited company in the U.K. It took 15 minutes on Companies House and cost me £12 ($16).
I didn’t even need to watch a YouTube video. The website explains it step-by-step.
I can now create multiple revenue streams that feed into my business and build my personal brand.
Converted my YouTube app into a digital learning centre
I looked through my YouTube subscriptions and realised the channels I subscribed to were mainly comedy channels and miscellaneous content.
I decided to delete all of my subscriptions and seek out content that I can learn from.
I now follow two channels around productivity and have learned whilst relaxing.
Purged my email inbox
I opened my gmail on an actual laptop instead of my phone and saw that I had 16,784 unread emails.
They were mostly from subscriptions and most were catalogued under the promotions tab.
I googled how to clear my gmail inbox and deleted my whole inbox, saving a few booking confirmation emails and receipts.
Then when additional emails came in I would hit the unsubscribe button, unless it’s a particular brand or service I really care about.
The goal is to create an email inbox that only delivers me content I have chosen to see and will find valuable.
Planned out my goals
I took a deeper look at my 30 under 30 list and realised that without intentional planning, I wouldn’t be able to achieve my goals.
I opened up a spreadsheet and set long-term, medium-term and short-term goals. Working backwards, I then thought about the habits I would need to develop to achieve those goals and made a list.
Now I will focus on building positive habits using a habit tracker. I use the Streaks app, it’s pretty good.
Connected with friends
I sent messages to friends I hadn’t spoken to in a while, or just generally wanted to check in on.
I spent a few evenings messaging a good friend and had some eye-opening discussions. I gained insights into areas of my life I hadn’t thought about and offered my perspective on some of his challenges too.
As a result, I felt more grounded, happy and cared for in a more profound way than the dopamine spike from the likes on instagram.
Became fully present
I engaged in conversations fully, without the occasional glance at my phone or mindless scroll.
I asked my wife meaningful questions and listened to her intently. We went for walks in the evening and talked through her challenges. I took several hours to coach her through a tough interview process.
We became incredibly connected and as a result had some of the best sex in my recent memory.
That list wasn’t even exhaustive.
Try it out for yourself and see how you spend your week.