By Deirdre Maloney, author of “Bogus Balance: Your Journey to Real Work/Life Bliss“
My, how we love our technology. Those cell phones. Those emails. Those texts. Those instant messages.
And we should indeed love our tech. After all, it guides us as we explore new opportunities. It helps us stay connected. It gets us whatever answers we need — now.
But, as we all know, there’s a downside to the wonder that is our tech. It can distract us, break our focus, take our good intention to finish a project or have a meaningful conversation and turn it upside down. And when that happens, we feel stressed out and less connected to those around us. Less happy.
It can happen in one, brief instant — the instant the unexpected ding signaling an incoming message hits our inbox or phone.
Most of us have grown to give that ding a whole lot of power. If we’re being real, the reason has nothing to do with how helpful that ding can be and everything to do with the fact that we really, truly love it.
Our Love Affair with the Ding.
Think about it. There’s a reason that we tend to jump with a somewhat adrenaline-like start when we hear the ding signaling someone has reached out to us. There’s a reason we put everything else down to see what it’s about.
When someone contacts us, that means we’re needed. It means we’re important. It means someone is thinking of us. And, as a bonus, it means we’ve got something to distract us from the thing we don’t want to do at the moment.
The ding is like a wrapped gift that hasn’t yet been opened. It represents something new to us — a mystery — even for just that moment before we find out who and what is behind it. In the seconds it takes us to locate that phone and look at that screen, it could be anyone. About anything.
Despite our collective whining about being constantly inundated with technology and despite our efforts to convince ourselves and others that we constantly check our tech to keep those inboxes neat and tidy, the truth is that, for many of us, our tech is what keeps us feeling relevant. It’s how we check in, feel connected and feel important.
This is not a statement of judgement. We all get that ding-related buzz now and again. The important thing is to get real about why we keep the phone on over dinner or during that big meeting.
Yes, there might be an emergency. But, let’s face it, most of what comes through our beloved little technological devices can wait — even for a little while — so that we can focus fully on the things (and people) in front of us.
We just don’t always think about it that way. Instead, we jump at the ding.
Because, let’s face it, adrenaline is kind of nice.
Getting Our Power Back from the Ding.
What I want to emphasize here is that despite what we want to believe, we make a choice about the ding and the power we give it in our lives.
We allow the ding to turn our day upside down, to take us out of what we’ve intended to do, which leads us to fall behind, to stress more and to connect less with those in front of us. And then we make excuses as though we don’t have a choice. We do.
If you constantly check to see who’s responded to your latest social media post or jump at the sound of an incoming text, then fine. Just be honest with yourself about why you’re doing it.
Know that it’s not just about being there when it’s important, but just being there — being accessible and available whenever anyone shoots any bit of information your way. Know you do it because it feels good to be needed or wanted or just to be in the game.
We all need to own how much that part of us that wants to be important and loved (and “liked”) is running the show.
Once we own it, we can plan for it. We can decide just how much power we’re willing to give our tech. We can get some of that power back. We can adjust our lives to make it happen. So that we can get back to the business of getting things done, of being there with those around us.
We can find new ways to discipline ourselves. We can turn off the phone during dinner or in the meeting. We can shut the email down. We can silence the ding.
We can focus better, enjoy each moment more.
In the end, that’s what makes life that much more meaningful. That much more successful. That much happier.
Deirdre Maloney is a bliss builder, helping people find their truth and live happier, more successful lives, through her work as a published author, national speaker, and proud president of her training and facilitation company Momentum LLC.. Her books include”Bogus Balance: Your Journey to Real Work/Life Bliss“, “Tough Truths: The Ten Leadership Lessons We Don’t Talk About“, and “The Mission Myth“. For more information on Deirdre, visit www.makemomentum.com and www.bogusbalance.com.