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You should be proud of yourself: you’ve got a lot on your plate.
You might be running a business, and, as I’ve heard it said, the great thing about running your own business is you can choose whichever 16 hours a day you want to work!
Or you might have a job that takes up most of the day, and a passion that you work on in the mornings, or the evenings, or both.
On top of all that, we all have our share of adulting: you know, doing the laundry, calling the bank, making sure there’s something in the fridge when we need it.
And I haven’t even touched on all the other people you have in your life, some of whom might need you to do all of the above while carrying them around or solving their LEGO woes.
You could be excused for just wanting a breather sometimes. Or maybe just wanting to give it all up and live in a tiny cabin on a moor. Or you could join a monastery, and possess nothing but a bowl, a robe, and a spartan room.
If any of that is sounding appealing right now, you’re not alone. Feeling overwhelmed with your commitments, desires, and responsibilities is a fact of life. Taking flight for the hills with no forwarding address might be the solution… but I hope not.
We still want to see you around these parts! 🙂
Let’s talk about what it takes to keep playing the often-exhausting game of life. We have yet to find the rule book, but we can share what we’ve learned that works.
Links and Resources Mentioned
- Podcast: 393: Thinking Time: Solve Problems and Clear Your Mind
- Book: How to Be Alone by Sara Maitland
- Book: The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr
- Book: Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
- Wikipedia: Reinforcement – Wikipedia
“The variable ratio schedule produces both the highest rate of responding and the greatest resistance to extinction (for example, the behavior of gamblers at slot machines).”
👆🏼This is also why it’s so hard to stop scrolling through your social media apps.
- Book: Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Note: This transcript of the episode was machine-generated and has not been edited for correctness. It’s provided for your convenience when searching. Please excuse any errors.
Ben: [00:00:00] The cat can still stay in the house, but have some friends come over and check on it every few days, anything longer than a week. Then you have to start looking into boarding options.
Dan: [00:00:11] And if, if you didn’t want to do the topic of today’s show, you could’ve just told me.
Ben: [00:00:33] Good morning, Dan.
Dan: [00:00:35] Good morning, Ben. I know how to do this show ban. I S I swear. I tried to get into the topic before, before we started the show. That was, that was my sin.
Ben: [00:00:47] No, you know, it’s okay to tease. You can tease a little bit.
Dan: [00:00:54] but you can’t just dive right in in the pre show. That would be, that would be wrong.
Ben: [00:00:59] no. That, that ends up though, becoming one of the. Indications that it’s time, like you’re, you’re ready to get into the show.
Dan: [00:01:09] That’s true.
Ben: [00:01:10] which is, which is okay. Sometimes. Sometimes that ends up happening. You start actually having conversation about the topic and it’s like, this should be the show.
Dan: [00:01:19] Yeah. We, we should, we should start a podcast.
Ben: [00:01:23] Well, in an episode of podcasts, it’s a whole collective anyways, but for those of you who are listening. Who, who are not live with us in the community right now. We have a whole pre-show that we do. We, we had a lovely conversation before the show began about pets. You’re missing, you’re missing out.
Dan: [00:01:46] No, it’s all good. The topic for today is, is this is among my favorite titles so far. I think it’s, it stopped real life. I want to get off.
Ben: [00:01:56] So the thing that, the thing about this is I like, I love this idea of just, I want to just, you know, sign out of all of my social media accounts. Turn on my, you know. Auto-reply responder thing on my email and just be like, peace out. Everybody tell my wife and kids I’m going to take, I’m going to, I’m just going to take some time away.
I suppose in my situation, they would still be here. They could take care of the cats and stuff, but if you don’t have, you don’t have a family or, or the means to, you know, put your pet up and like a, a pet hotel or something like that for the duration of your vacation. How do you, how do you manage that?
That’s one of the biggest challenges, and one of the reasons I’m glad we are cat owners and not dog owners. Cats are lot easier to leave behind for, you know, like short stints. They can kind of fend for themselves. Dogs, dogs really need, Oh, every day.
Dan: [00:02:58] Yeah, they do. So it turns out this is a show about pet ownership.
Ben: [00:03:02] Right. We snuck it in there.
Dan: [00:03:06] Yeah. This isn’t really what we had discussed before. The show band. I’m just going to say.
Ben: [00:03:10] Okay.
Dan: [00:03:11] It wasn’t, it wasn’t aware. It wasn’t aware that we were going to be, have to give our our top tips on cat boarding
Ben: [00:03:18] Yeah. So, my, our, our general rule is, you know, two days or less, just put some extra food, extra water out, and it’s fine. It’s going to be longer if it’s going to be between two and, and seven days. So like. You know, three days to week,
Dan: [00:03:36] yeah.
Ben: [00:03:37] the cat can still stay in the house, but have some friends come over and check on it every few days, anything longer than a week.
Then you have to start looking into boarding options. I’m just
Dan: [00:03:50] Yeah. Ben, if you didn’t want to do the topic of today’s show, you could’ve just told me we could’ve, we could’ve planned a whole show about pets and, but instead, you’re.
Ben: [00:04:00] No, I really, I really do. So I, I’d love to talk about the origin of this topic and, and I feel like you’re the person to kind of bring that in if you, if you would.
Dan: [00:04:11] Yes. Well, so start, stop real life. I want to get off. I mean, this is something that, look when, when you’re a kid, you don’t really have anything to do all day except make your dad pretend he’s a horse. So you can ride him around the living room when you’re adults. It’s not quite that simple. Right? So, you know, maybe you’re running a business, maybe you have a job and you’re working on something on the side.
But pretty much all of us feel like we’ve got too much stuff. You know, we’re always trying to fit 10 pounds of life into a five pound bag of life. A life bag. Okay. Maybe not the best metaphor, but.
Ben: [00:04:50] No, that works. That works. I get like I can, I can see it. I can picture
Dan: [00:04:54] Okay. Okay. As long if you can visualize it, that’s all that matters. Need a visual metaphor. So, you know, we talk about feeling stressed, talk about feeling overwhelmed, and we’ve done shows about that, that idea before we had a, we had conversations in the community where people were, you know, sort of talking about just needing to get away from everything.
And part of it is. Part of it is the obligations in in our lives. Just feeling like you have too many things to do, too many responsibilities, but part of it is also feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information in the world. Like. Earlier in the chat, Garrett was talking about just walking down the street in his town and just, you know, constantly being bombarded with ads and just, you know, seeing all these things everywhere and traffic and etc.
So, you know, you got the phone in one hand that’s constantly connecting you to everything, and you’ve got the outside world is noisy, and eventually you reach a point where you just want to disconnect from it. All right? And so for some people, that takes the shape of wanting to just. You know, just, just build a cabin in the woods somewhere and, you know, have no forwarding address.
But since we, most of us probably don’t want to go quite that extreme. I’m hoping what you and I can do is come up with some, some other ways of dealing with this feeling.
Ben: [00:06:21] Yeah. And when. in, in, in the community chat, I think, I can’t remember if it was during another show or where it came up, but, but Garrett, one of our community members brought this, brought this idea up of just, you know, like wanting to be, wanting to become a monk and just like some, sometimes you just feel like that and, and, and I could resonate with that immediately.
Just that feeling of. Weariness because it does. It does feel like, even if you’re not taking into account, like the day to day grind of running a business, running a household, all of the things that you, all of your responsibilities, there is just a lot of noise. You know? It feels like there’s, and it’s, and it’s not just.
You know, you talked about walking down the street and seeing the ads and stuff like that. Like, you know, we’re not, we’re not in a, well, at least, at least not in, not in most cities. Like we’re not in, in that like blade runner reality where there are just like visuals everywhere and things like holograms jumping out at you and stuff like that.
Dan: [00:07:43] Maybe you’re not.
Ben: [00:07:44] I did visit New York.
Dan: [00:07:46] Yeah.
Ben: [00:07:47] And times square was intense. I mean, but, but that’s, you know, but still like, just even, as, as far outside of the city as we are, there are sections where it just, it feels like you can’t go a hundred yards without seeing a billboard or an advertisement or some sign posted.
Somewhere. You know, like it’s, it feels like there are things vying for your attention constantly and it takes energy to either engage with those things or ignore them. Like it. Either way it takes energy and that’s not to, that’s not to mention, you know, these devices that we carry around in our pockets that give us access to the entire world pretty much.
And as much information as we care to expose ourselves to. It’s just, I, I’ve, I feel the sense of weariness. And then on top of that, most of us, most of the listeners of this podcast are people who make their living in part by being engaged online and interacting with that kind of noisy world. It can, it can feel like, as, as much as I might want to put all this away and take a break, I feel like I can’t, I feel like if I disconnect, like I lose all of my momentum.
Aye. Aye. My business stops growing. Like all of these things, all of these consequences. How, how in the world will I ever find. Solitude, like, do I have to wait until I’m old enough to and have and I’ve gotten enough money to retire and like then I get to disconnect and go live in a cabin. You know when, when is the relief coming?
That’s, that’s kind of what I felt from that question.
Dan: [00:09:55] I like the question of when is the relief. Calming, but I want to flip it around because the problem with when is the relief coming is it’s all focused outside of you. You’re waiting for something to do, arrive, right? You are stuck in the place where you are, where you’re weary and overwhelmed and you’re asking, well, when is the relief coming?
I think the better question is how do we, how do we create the relief for, how do we invite. The relief.
Ben: [00:10:29] Yeah. And what I hope we accomplish on this show is coming up with a plan or helping you come up with a plan for making that relief of possibility and not just a possibility, but a practice. Something that you can make a reliable.
Dan: [00:10:57] I mean, first, maybe we should ask keep setting it up. Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? Because again, it’s, it’s easy to look at. It’s easy to look at ourselves as the victims of circumstance, but again, that’s, that’s very disempowering. It’s worth taking a moment to consider. Why do we opt in to this.
Ben: [00:11:22] Yeah. So. Because, I mean, really for most people, when it comes down to it, you’ve got a choice, right? You don’t have to engage in the world and the way that you do, you could take on a profession that was less engaged. You know, there, there are ways that you can make a living that don’t require you to interact on social media.
And so I think, like for me, I, and I can only speak for myself, what I learned about myself kind of coming into, going, going from as an adult, going from a world that was relatively disconnected online to now we’re like super connected. I really enjoy having easy access to share. Creative things with people that bring them joy or that entertain them in some way, or that help them.
I love how easy it is for me to make something here, you know, in, in my office, in San Antonio, Texas, and instantly be able to share that with someone on the other side of the world. And whatever they’re going through in their day or whatever their experiences, my thing that I made here gets to influence how the rest of their day is going to go or more, you know, like, so we’re sitting here making this podcast, for example, for this, this episode of the Sean West podcast, and you’re, you’re in a completely different location.
I mean, I love that. I think, I think it’s so amazing and, and so I do feel this great sense of wonder and awe and gratitude for the things that are possible as as a person who loves, I love helping people. I get a lot of joy from that. I love creating things. I love sharing the things that I’ve made with other people and seeing them enjoy it and appreciate it.
You know? So like all of those things were possible before, but the way that we’re connected now has just multiplied that and amplified it in ways that, you know, I couldn’t even have imagined. I think if you were to, you know, to kind of flip it around, if I were to be forced into solitude. there’s a part of me that would probably die inside a little bit because I wouldn’t have the outlet.
I wouldn’t have, I wouldn’t have this, this way too. Share the things that I make with people, you know? And that would, and that would be incredibly sad, I think. And that’s, and that’s my, so that’s my, the answer to the question of why do we do this to ourselves? as much as I. Feel weary sometimes. I also have so much appreciation and gratitude for what is available to me, and that’s my why.
Dan: [00:14:47] I hear you. And so you need both you would not be, you would not be happy being open to everything in the world all the time, but you also wouldn’t be happy, just living on the top of a mountain by yourself somewhere.
Ben: [00:15:15] Find solitude and disengage.
Dan: [00:15:19] At this point absolutely.
Ben: [00:15:22] Yeah. What, what I think is also true is as like culturally being, being engaged and present too, what I would call, like the online conversation, everything that’s going on is kind of a part of our value system. In a way. It’s like. You should be here. You should add your voice to this. You should interact.
You should participate and in, in a similar way to what I think, I’m trying to think of a good example that similar to this, but I, I, I don’t feel like we’re at a place yet where culturally we understand and appreciate the value of solitude in the same way that we. I appreciate the ability to be connected in the way that we are.
And so it’s, it’s kind of one of those things that is like, Oh, that’s nice if you, if you can get a retreat every once in awhile, or you can get away every once in a while, that’s fine, but, but it’s just not, it’s not as important, I think. Is it? It should be. Well, surely.
Dan: [00:16:36] you mean it’s, it’s treated as though it’s not as important? Well, it’s, or it’s,
Ben: [00:16:40] that’s, yeah, that’s what I mean.
Dan: [00:16:41] it’s treated like being connected as the default. Obviously how you spend your whole life is. Swapping between Instagram, your email and the billboards outside your, your house. And, the, that’s the default. That’s how you go about every day.
And hypothetically, you might be able to get away from that somehow for maybe a couple of days a year. But I think what we’re here to talk about then is flipping that, flipping that a little bit so that you can make solitude a more regular part of your life because we need it. I think a big part of the solution is changing that default, right?
If you’re being overwhelmed by what’s coming in, you need less things coming in, but there are all kinds of ways to do that that include moving to the top of a mountain, but they also include some other things that we could start doing right now.
Ben: [00:17:35] I want to, I want to go ahead and make, before we get into. Some of the practical things, I want to make sure we really make a case for solitude being something that each of us really does need to practice. Like it’s, it’s not, it isn’t a nice to have. It’s, it’s a part of what makes up your overall mental health.
And I was, when I think about it, I kind of liken it to so, so think of a thing of professional athletes, you know, like. and, and in some, some sports, they’re not the greatest example either because a lot of them end up getting injured and burning out. But, but where there’s, where there’s a healthy balance between physical, effort and, an exertion and periods of rest and recovery.
You know, there’s, there’s an off season, there’s, there’s a time. To disengage and, and not, and still, you know, like maybe keep, do certain things that allow you to keep your fitness level up and stuff like that. But there are also times when like you S you just stop working out altogether and you let your body rest.
You don’t perform as well. Your, your body doesn’t heal correctly. Your mouth, you can’t build muscle. As efficiently when you don’t have a regular cycle of rest. So I don’t, I don’t think about this, you know, like finding solitude as maybe once a year. You take them a week long retreat and turn off your phone and everything.
Like it needs to also be kind of a, a part of your weekly, if not daily experience. On some level. I think it’s, I think it’s that important.
Dan: [00:19:33] I agree. I think the. It can be easy to have a narrow view of solitude and it’s another place where we can succumb to all or nothing thinking where, you know, solitude means giving up everything in my life, and if I don’t do that, then I’ll never have even a moment of solitude or, or I’ll never have enough, never have enough solitude.
And there are, there are ways big and small to practice it. It’s, it’s kind of like what we talk about sabbaticals, right? Like Sean right now is on a. A sabbatical for an entire year, and he’s doing that every seven years. But at the same time, we also take off every seventh week, so you don’t have to wait seven years to get a whole year off to rest and recharge and to and eh to, among other things, experience, solitude.
You can do it. You can do it, let’s say every seven weeks. And the thing is, if you can’t afford to take every seventh week off, we talk about taking a weekend sabbatical where you choose one weekend out of the month and you can do anything you want on that weekend. But the goal is really to not oblige yourself to do anything.
Right? The concept of sabbaticals is, is very much related because it’s all about getting real rest. Bye. Well, I think by questioning some of these defaults like we brought up. And so similarly, finding solitude is about questioning all of the things that you right now are letting into your life. You know, are there, are there ways large and small to get away?
So I, you know, I keep wanting to go into the, into the solutions, but do we need to, do we need to sell people on the, the necessity of solitude a little more?
Ben: [00:21:18] I mean as if, if anyone’s still skeptical, I think I always, I always kind of go back to this, like if you’ve never purposefully made time to experience solitude, you may not know w what you’re missing out on. And, and I think that’s enough. That’s enough of a reason to experiment with it, so to say. Okay, just you don’t, you don’t have to believe me.
That solitude is, is a necessary part of your mental health, which influences a lot of things. Your productivity, your ability to focus, the, the level of mental clarity, your, I mean, your emotional wellbeing too. And that’s fine, but do an experiment, you know, just purposefully take some time where you can disengage and have some time to yourself, and then, you know, see what happens.
Worst case scenario, it’s you, you took a little bit of a break and you came back and nothing happened. Okay, well then maybe. We’re just blowing smoke.
But I would say that there’s a good chance that you’re leaving stuff on the table because you don’t have that as a part of your regular experience.
Dan: [00:22:57] When you say that you mean, you mean solitude.
Ben: [00:23:01] Yeah. Because you don’t have solitude as a, as a regular part of your experience. and. And I can, again, I can only speak to, I haven’t, I haven’t done any like, specific research on solitude in preparation for this show. I w I would like to have, but, but I can really only speak from my own personal experience that when, when I have time to myself, where I don’t have the possibility of like things interrupting my thoughts.
When I can, when I can just be disconnected, be alone with my thoughts, have some time to myself. I always feel much more capable and, and I, and I’ve got a greater sense of clarity. I mean, the clarity is probably the biggest one is when you, when you get to take some time away from other voices that are competing with the voice in your own head, in your own instincts.
Helen, you, you know, you should try this or you should do this or you should do that. It’s, it’s nice to actually think your own thoughts without feeling the judgment or the pull of other people’s thoughts and ideas and, you know, just constantly coming at you.
Dan: [00:24:25] I can give you a couple. You know, you’re talking about, not having the research on this, but, I’ve read a couple of interesting things about this idea. one of them is a book called how to be alone by Sarah Maitland, and it talks about, it gives some of the historical context for this about how, you know, solitude used to be kind of understood as an important practice.
There used to be more people. In history that, that deliberately practiced solitude, including things like monks and, and other, people in religious positions that would sort of go away. You know, go away from the world around them. You know, you go back and read some of the writings of the Stoics who were writing.
Thousands of years ago, they were talking about how the quote modern world is so distracting. I mean, imagine that, that if, if ancient Greece was giving people the feeling that they needed to get some solitude, how much more intense is that in, in our, in our world, you know, there’s another book called the power of full engagement, managing energy.
Not time. By Jim Loehr. And, that’s an a, that’s an interesting book, which I think we’ve talked about before in other shows. And it points out that there are four different types of energy, and we usually only think of physical and mental energy, but there’s also emotional and spiritual energy. And for the precise definitions, you should check out the book, but it makes the point that you can’t.
You can’t just manage your time and you can’t just manage like your physical state. You have to make room for your emotions and your mental capacity in yours, so-called spiritual capacity as well. And both of those books make pretty compelling arguments for not constantly being connected to everything and every other person in the world for the necessity of practicing solitude.
Ben: [00:26:24] The, those are, especially that second one we’ve definitely talked about on the show before, the, the power of full engagement. So I th I think there’s definitely solid evidence out there supporting the practice of solitude, but at the very least, you know, do an experiment for yourself and see what the actual results are, what your actual experience is.
and then I think, I think beyond that, you know, I, I’d really like to get into, well, how, so how do we make solitude? Not necessarily even just a thing that we do once every seven weeks, but like how, how can solitude be a more regular, consistent part of our lives.
Dan: [00:27:14] So you, you talked about, you know, wanting to start small, starting starting really small. Maybe like if, if you. Don’t feel like you ever get any solitude.
Ben: [00:27:25] Yeah. So, and, and it kind of, you know, like it depends on where you are and there, there are different kinds of, I think there are different concepts of solitude. I don’t want to get too much into this angel and our. A community chat is, is talking about going within, quieting the mind. and I appreciate and agree with the idea of that.
I think a L a lot of folks who haven’t practiced solitude or meditation might find it really, really difficult. and so I think, I think meditation is one of the ways that you can get there. But it’s, it takes a long time. It takes a lot of practice to get to a place where you can be physically and in an environment that has a lot of, you know, like, like just even being in the same house with a phone that has access to the internet seems, that seems like, well, if the phone’s in another room, that’s.
then I’m good. Right? But like, you could literally, if you can just walk over and press a few buttons and you’re instantly connected to the world. That’s, that’s a big difference from being, you know, out in the woods in the middle of nowhere and you don’t have a phone with you men mentally. There, there is, there’s a difference in the way that you perceive and experience.
Those two situations without lots and lots of mental practice to help you tune that out. Do you get what I’m saying?
Dan: [00:29:09] I think I do, but we were talking about starting really small though.
Ben: [00:29:13] Yeah, no, so I guess the point that I’m making is, well, while I think meditation is a good practice in, is connected to solitude, you know, being able to find that kind of solitude within. I don’t feel like that’s the best starting point. If you’re talking about starting small, I think you, I think you really do need to, so for me, one of, one of the things that I do is I leave my phone in the house and I will either go out for a walk in the neighborhood or, and, and we live in the suburbs.
So like there, there aren’t a lot of billboards. Or signs or anything like that out here, it’s mostly just houses. And so it’s, it’s a lot easier not to be, it’s a lot easier to go outside and not be mom bartered with messages and advertisements and that kind of thing. And then behind our house, we do have the green belt that’s kind of connected to,
I’m a wooded area that, that doesn’t have any like roads or houses.
And I can kind of go for a hike. Back there, but most of us at least live within driving distance of someplace like that, someplace that doesn’t have signs and advertisements and screens and lots of foot traffic or, or vehicle traffic like most of us live within driving distance of some place like that.
I think the practice really is like, leave your phone behind. And I would say even, I don’t know, like if you have a smartwatch, if you, if you feel like that’s even, that might be too much of a distraction, like leave, leave those things behind and let yourself experience what it’s like to not be connected to the internet and an out by yourself and go for, you know, like a 15.
2030 minute walk without those things. I feel like that’s, I feel like that’s a great starting point and if that’s something that you can do, you know, maybe once a week, I feel like that’s a, I feel like that’s a great start.
Dan: [00:31:36] That’s a good idea. I’ll even say that. Something I noticed that I do is I listen to podcasts a lot. And podcasts are, podcasts are great, but I’ve noticed that I do tend to just fill my head with other people’s voices whenever possible. And so for example, I’ll go to take a walk, but I’ll almost always like put on a podcast or something.
And there, there is definitely a difference between when I do that and when I pull my earbuds out and just, you know, we’ll take a walk with just the contents of my own head. It’s a, it’s a little frightening, to be honest, how easy it is to get into the habit of always drowning out your own internal monologue.
It, it just, it’s, it’s effortless. You know? It just becomes, we can always be doing something right. There’s the, the other classic is like. The dead time. When you’re, for example, waiting in line at, at a shop to pay, do you pull out your phone and just start looking at it or do you just stare at, or do you just stare into space?
You know where we’re going to make the argument for staring into space today.
Ben: [00:32:43] So this is, this is another way that you can, this is another way that you can practice it, because almost all of us find ourselves in situations like that where we’re waiting for something. Mmm. Whether that’s waiting in line at the grocery store or like this morning I was. I was waiting to talk to the principal at the school and I was just, you know, sitting in the front office and looking back.
Like, I didn’t even really think about it at the time, but looking back, like I sat down and one of the first things I did was pull out my phone and start doing all of the, like, instinctual kind of muscle memory things that I do with my phone. Not really. Not with any kind of specific goal, you know, it was just, but every once in awhile I have, I have my mind about me enough that I say, Nope, I’m well leave my phone in my pocket.
I’m going to let myself be bored right now.
I find when I do that, I actually find that I, I really enjoy the feeling. Eventually, once the discomfort kind of goes away, really enjoy the feeling of not giving into that temptation to just pull out my phone and browse through stuff.
Dan: [00:34:14] Yeah. I often find there’s a loop when I’m not paying attention of specific apps that I look at on my phone, and there are the apps that will occasionally be updated. Right? So you got Instagram, you got email, you’ve got messages. Maybe you’ve even got the Shawn West community for that matter. Just the things that you can check to see if there’s a new.
Thing like just a new little blinking light that you get to look at. And it’s a, that’s, that’s a powerful cycle. But I’ll sometimes catch myself doing it and just being like, you know, my thumb will be hovering over the icon for the Instagram app and I’ll just go, you know, you just looked at that like 10 minutes ago.
What is it you think you’re going to, what? What is it you think is going to happen as a result of, of doing that? And then, you know. And usually I put my phone away. I, I’ve, I’ve been feeling, I’ve been feeling this really acutely lately. This desire to, like, my phone is becoming too much of a thing that I use to the, yeah.
Like fill the empty spaces in life. And I would like it to be more of a thing that I go to for a purpose. You know, maybe, maybe that’s to do a to do list. Maybe that’s to communicate deliberately with someone, but I would like it to be less of a, just please keep me occupied at all times. Accompaniment.
Ben: [00:35:29] But so much could have happened in that 10 minutes between when you last checked your Instagram and
Dan: [00:35:36] No, it’s not even, I’m not.
Ben: [00:35:38] 10 minutes.
Dan: [00:35:40] No, that’s not even the rational is that there is no rationalization. I don’t even tell myself, I don’t even make an excuse for why I’m doing it. It is pure muscle memory.
It’s a, it’s a habit. You just, you fall into the habit of filling. Time, turn on a podcast, look at your apps.
Ben: [00:36:01] Yes. Yeah. I think, I think it, I think it is a habit. That is constantly reinforced. I think they’ve actually made comparisons to gambling like, like the slot machines.
Dan: [00:36:18] Yeah. And, and Skinner, Skinner boxes and, and the, the pigeons, you give them a variable reward schedule and they will starve themselves to death pecking at a, at a levered, because sometimes a piece of food falls out.
Ben: [00:36:30] That’s what it is. It’s the variable reward thing. I remember now because I was reading about this recently, it’s, like w one of that’s one of those kind of ancient artifacts of our, of our brains that really harms us in a lot of ways. Like it’s, it’s good for us in situations where that’s a part of your survival.
Like if you’re not that persistent that you could die. But there are so many things now in life that exploit that same mechanism that are, are not really necessary for survival, but our brains don’t really understand the difference. The reward systems in our brains don’t really understand the difference.
And so yeah, I’d like, I agree that it’s, I agree that it’s a habit, like there’s muscle memory and there, there those things involved, but it’s heavily reinforced by that. Like. There might be a reward this time and that, and that reward is I like, I turned off all of the notifications on my phone. I T I turn off all of the badges even to where, like if I open up my phone, I don’t even see the little red badge that tells me there 10 notifications.
I don’t have the little thing that pops up to tell me, Oh, you know, such and such an app has a new post from so-and-so. And in some ways that has made it worse because instead of relying on the phone to tell me when something has happened, now I’m like, anything could have happened.
Dan: [00:38:11] Yeah. So now you’re always checking cause you never know. Yeah, I’m the same way.
Ben: [00:38:17] So anyways, all of that to say, what were we saying.
Dan: [00:38:23] Well, we’re, we’re trying to, I mean, we’re describing the problem a little bit. We’re trying to find, we’re trying to find solutions. I, before we move on, I want to bring up the, book that Ashley mentioned in the chat, Cal Newport’s digital minimalism, which I also read relatively recently, and it’s another really good.
you know, another good take on everything we’ve been talking about and it has, it has, I like, it has like a very structured sort of solution. It kind of has a, a framework for weaning yourself off of these sorts of things. So, I mean, I’d, I’d direct people to that. I think, you know, just looking at our notes a little bit, we, we, we could scale this up a bit and let’s, let’s assume that, that we’re working on putting away the phone.
How do we go up a level from just the daily practice of solitude to doing larger things.
Ben: [00:39:15] Yeah. So I, I, I’ve seen people do this before and I’ve, I’ve actually not done this myself. But I really admire, I have a lot of admiration for people who go on a social media fast. Like they make an announcement and they say, Hey, everyone, I’m not going to be on here for a month. And it seems like, it seems like half the time, people, people do that and then like they make it maybe a day and they ended up coming back.
But it’s refreshing. I have a, I have a friend who did that, or Facebook, I think he may have done it for all, but I only follow him on Facebook and, and I just didn’t see him for like, I think it was something like 60 days and he did it a two month just hiatus. And, and I think the, I think. Outside of the, you know, the FOMO, the fear of missing out, the variable reward system and all of those habits.
I think that there is a legitimate, like, okay, I run my business online. I, part of, part of my strategy for running my business is, you know, like posting things regularly and interacting with people. And if you don’t have a separate brand account, like that gets even stickier because then it’s like, well, I, you know, I post my personal stuff, but I also like post my business stuff on here and this is, this is the way that I keep the pipeline filled and the sales coming in.
And so like, what happens if I shut that valve off? You know, what happens to my business? What happens to my income? how am I going to continue to. To make a living and what if I lose momentum? You know? So like I think all of those are legitimate concerns as well. There they’re legitimate concerns in the sense that like it’s not wrong to be concerned that something might happen to your business if you stop using the tools that have helped your business be successful.
Dan: [00:41:32] Yeah, but, but hold on a sec, because we’re talking about something like a 30 day fast from social media. I’m going to put forward the notion that if you run online business, it is extremely unlikely that your business will go from whatever. It’s doing right now to non-existent in 30 days of absence from social media.
Ben: [00:41:54] Well and I wouldn’t say the concern is necessarily. Becoming non-existent, like losing, losing momentum. That, that feeling that you’ve been, because you’ve been consistent in some, some, some platforms reinforce this and, and I w and I won’t just say like social media apps. It could also be like if you have your own website and you find ways to drive traffic.
To it through SEO because you’re posting consistently and you have a certain percentage of people sign up for your email list and you send out emails on a weekly basis. And you know, like so, so you’re doing, you’re doing those things. so it’s not just social media, but I think there is, there is a legitimate link between the amount of activity and.
How that results in business and sales. There’s, there’s definitely a link there. So I think that it’s, it is a legitimate concern that if you stop doing any of those things, there could be some measurable loss of momentum or sales or you know, that like there would, you would suffer in some way. Not saying, I’m not saying your business would completely tank, but I, but I understand the concern that like you could, you could lose out in some way if you took a significant amount of time away from those things.
Dan: [00:43:43] I understand the concern too, but I’m just, I’m gonna, I’m going to say two things. One of them is. I want people to be careful about their concerns about losing out, because we talk about that idea of fear of missing out, right? And that it is largely illusory most of the time. There’s a great quote from that I’ve seen attributed to the writer Anne Lamott who says, almost everything will keep working if you unplug it for a few minutes, including yourself, and.
I’m going to follow that up with something a little harsher, which is, you know, people could disagree, but I’m going to say this. If you have a business that will stop working properly, if you step away from it for a couple of days, you don’t have a sustainable business.
Ben: [00:44:26] Well, and, and we’re not just talking . About a couple of days, like we’re talking about something even longer, like 30 days, because I think that, I think that level of solitude is part of what we’re talking about here. Like when it, when it comes to how solitude influences your mental health and, and talking about it as a necessary component of your mental health.
I don’t think that excludes the idea of taking. 30 days or, or even more away from, social media and your online responsibilities and disconnecting in some way, I think, I think you’re onto something with the S the idea of running a sustainable business. Because the same way that we talk about seventh week sabbaticals, because we’re, when we’re talking about seventh week sabbaticals, we’re not advocating for.
Taking a week off and nothing is happening during that week,
but we’re talking about doing seven weeks worth of work in six weeks so that when you take that seventh week off, you don’t lose momentum. If you attempt to do seven weeks of work in six weeks. And you only managed to get six and a half weeks of work done, or six and a quarter worth of work done in that seven weeks, you’re still better off.
Like you’re the, it’s, it’s still time that you can take away and you might, maybe you lose a little bit of momentum, but gosh, is it worth it? Honestly, I, I think and I get that some people may not be there. But I, I believe that it’s worth it. Even if you didn’t work that seventh week, even if you or it, even if you didn’t account for that seventh week in the work that you did during the six, I think it would be worth it in the longterm.
So I F I feel like anything that you can manage to do that puts you in a position where things are still running and operating during your time away. Without you having to be responsible for it. I feel like that’s just icing on the cake and I think that can help too. Like it can be helpful if you know that things are running, that you don’t have to worry about them or think about them.
I think that can help you to disengage more mentally. So I think it’s a good idea. Two, build that into your, your business. Let’s say once a year you’re going to take a whole month off of. Social media or you know, like whatever, whatever you decide the frequency and consistency is going to be account for that and prepare for it.
I like, I don’t, I don’t think we’re advocating like tomorrow you need to just disconnect and let the chips fall where they may.
Dan: [00:47:30] No, we’re not. This is what I, this is what I meant when I mentioned building a city. business, you have to make it sustainable for yourself. So part of that is going to be that you have to disconnect sometimes. So you’ve got a plan for how you’re going to do that. And so yeah, that can mean things like creating content ahead of time.
And we’ve talked a lot about all these different ways of creating content and repurposing content so that you can, so that you’re not every single day, you’re not up until midnight trying to decide what the next day is. Content is going to be right. You want to build a buffer, get ahead of the game. The, the reasons for doing that are so that you can pull yourself out some of the time.
So, so we’ve gone from, we’ve gone from the small scale, which is getting away from the everyday bombardment of external calls for your attention. And then we’ve, we’ve talked about the sort of larger scale of it, you know, when you’re running a business. How do you manage the need to, or the perceived need to be connected all the time with your need for solitude and end.
So we want to want to encourage you to build systems, you know, do it up front. Like as you’re, you’re starting to do these things for your business. Always be asking yourself like, how is this gonna work? When I take a week off. And if the answer is it won’t, it’ll all fall apart. Okay, well then it’s going to take a, you know, it’s going to take some work to design a system that won’t fall apart when you step away from it for a little while and listen, it might slow down, you know, it might be okay, but like if you could, if you could build your business 30% larger by completely burning yourself out.
I mean, okay, you have a 30% larger business, but now you can’t run it anymore cause you’re burned out. Right. This is why we always talk. So much about the need for, for deliberate rest, it’s to make things sustainable. And having a practice of solitude is a big part of that.
Ben: [00:49:31] And, and it doesn’t like it can be part of, I, I really, I really liked the way that Sean West models this. It can be a part of your content. When we’re on a seventh week sabbatical, content still goes out, but, but a lot of it is themed around the sabbatical, and there’s, there’s a certain level of intentionality that you bring to communicating that and integrating that in some way as a part of your brand.
You know, it’s okay to. Give people a heads up and say, Hey, everyone, just just a reminder, next week I’m going to start a 30 day fast from social media. If you comment on any of my posts or or write me messages or anything, I’m not going to read them because I’m taking time to myself. And this is what gives me the clarity and the focus and the mental energy to be able to do what I do.
And you know, like the people who, the people who matter are going to get that
and they’re not going to, they’re not going to be upset by it. And you, you kind of in some ways, get to be a part of building a culture around this thing that’s really healthy that everyone needs. So I think that’s probably one of the biggest things is just like.
Being open and communicating about it is going to go a long way and, and helping you build that as a sustainable part of your business.
Dan: [00:51:16] That’s good. I like that point about, you know, by sharing what you’re doing, you’re giving other people permission to do the same. So the fact that you are taking a break from being connected can become a big part of your own message. And that’s, that’s how we do things around here. And that’s a great, that’s a great place to bring it in for a landing.
I think Ben.
Ben: [00:51:39] So, so maybe as a way of closing it out, I had, I had this bullet on here, this . His thoughts on longer term solitude?
Dan: [00:51:47] Mmm. Tell me about it.
Ben: [00:51:50] I G I guess, I guess I’m kind of imagining like
what would it look like if I wanted to just become a monk for a year, so to speak?
Dan: [00:52:07] Do you mean actually become a monk? Like join a monastery or just live a very, asset of lifestyle?
Ben: [00:52:14] No, I was, I was speaking more just, I not, not, not an actual monk just, but like having a different experience, like settling into I, cause I F I feel like these, these smaller kind of. This, the smaller scale solitude is really about maintaining your ability to stay connected. Is there, is there a time or a person too say, okay, for for the next year I’m going to settle into a lifestyle that is completely disconnected and.
who knows what is going to happen during that year. You know, who knows what I’m going to come back to in terms of where people are and how they’re connected and whether or not I can, you know, still work within the same networks. And you know, what, what happens to my business? But I’m going to just break from that completely.
is there, is there a time for that? Is that something that, that people need as opposed to what we’re talking about as, as like kind of taking this consistent smaller scale solitude.
Dan: [00:53:42] I don’t know the answer to that question because I haven’t tried it myself and I haven’t really sought, you know, like a scientific opinion on the necessity of longterm solitude. I can say that it, it sort of appeals to me, but it appeals to me without having practiced it before. It’s the kind of thing I’d like to give a try.
I’ve, I’ve been thinking for a while that I’m a, I’m very attracted to, the, some of the islands near the city where I live. And it would be interesting too, like maybe rent an Airbnb on one for a while, like maybe a month or two and try to explore what it’s like to live not in the city, because you know, like I say, I, I have this like fantasy of getting away from the city, but I’ve lived in cities my whole life.
I’m very much a city boy, so it’s easy to think that maybe I would like this other type of lifestyle. But it’s hard to know whether I would. So, so I’ve, I very much liked the idea of these sort of revocable, or, or low stakes ways of trying to practice this longer, longer term solitude that don’t necessarily mean you sell all your possessions.
And in your case, Ben, abandon your cath in your family.
Ben: [00:54:54] Yeah. And you know, like I, I definitely have, I have too many responsibilities to in good conscience, go and, you know, take on that kind of lifestyle. And I dunno, like as, as a person who has children who will grow up and. And we’ll have their lives and, you know, possibly have children, stuff like that. I don’t know that I’d ever be in a position where, where the desire to live in solitude would outweigh the pull that I, that I feel relationally towards staying connected to the people I love.
So like I, I feel like that kind of rules that out for me in some ways. there’s, there’s a movie called, I think it’s called secret window and stars Johnny Depp. And he’s a writer who, who rents out a cabin. You know, it’s, it’s that thing where, you know, the writer goes off to the cabin, has solitude so that they can focus and write their manuscript.
And there’s a, there’s like a little small mountain country town sort of, you know, kind of close to this cabin, but it’s definitely not a city. It doesn’t have that kind of vibe and energy where like, it just, it feels like if I drive into town, like I’m going to the one grocery store they have, that’s also the pharmacy and everything.
And I’m going to get my few things there and I’m going to pass the the post office and the Sheriff’s office because they’re all on the same street and then I’m going to go back. Like there is, there is something that’s, there’s something that’s really appealing and, and like I kind of have these idealistic thoughts about what would it be like and like no internet connection.
The only interaction I have with people is like these quick. You know, surface level things. When I go into town to get what I need, and then I come back out and I just get to be by myself in a cabin with my own thoughts. And then his character eventually goes crazy and like people. But I, I don’t, I don’t think that that’s a,
Dan: [00:57:22] Ben may be a better model for this kind of lifestyle is not the film secret window, but, the book Walden by Henry David Thoreau, which Garrett and mentioned in the chat, which I think is a very similar story, except John Turturro doesn’t show up and accuse him of having stolen his story ideas, which is, which I think is an important part of enjoying your life of solitude.
But that was, you know, that’s again, another excellent example. I was talking about how, you know, there were people in ancient Greece talking about how the hustle and bustle of modern life was intolerable. And similarly, you know, Walden was written in, whereas published anyway in the 1850s and it is again this, you know, this guy retreated to a cabin on a pond that was near, it wasn’t totally isolated, but he was near a town out in Massachusetts.
And. It’s all about this idea of getting away, sort of getting away from the, the hustle and bustle. I can’t think of a better way to describe that and just sort of achieving what was, what was necessary in life and how few things really aren’t necessary.
Ben: [00:58:35] Yeah, I’ll have to check it out. And I, like I said, I don’t, I don’t know that my circumstances, whatever, allow for me to seek that level of like longterm solitude. Maybe maybe reading other people’s experiences about it helps me kind of vicariously have those experiences too. Yes,
Dan: [00:58:59] Okay. It could be, it could be. Ben, you want to wrap the show up.
Ben: [00:59:04] Dan, where can people go to find us online?
Dan: [00:59:07] Well, I’m going to tell you where you can go and it’s to presale profits.com presale profits as an excellent course for making your first digital product and getting paid before you even made it. If that isn’t a compelling enough selling point already, go check out presale profits.com and see, see what’s going on in this course.
It’s the latest course that Sean Wes has produced. Sean recorded it last year and where. Putting it up for sale and a, you can get a great deal, but not for much longer. So go to presale profits.com see what I’m talking about.
Ben: [00:59:40] Yeah. Really. I like the whole thing about making money before you’ve made something.
Dan: [00:59:46] Oh yeah. That’s a, it’s a, it’s a bit of a no brainer, right? Like as opposed to making a profit and then sorta crossing not a profit, a product, instead of making a product and crossing your fingers and hoping somebody buys it, get paid to make the product. Why wouldn’t you want to do it that way?
Ben: [01:00:02] Yeah. Like that.
Dan: [01:00:03] Yeah. Ben, where can people find you online?
Ben: [01:00:06] You can find firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m also at Ben Tulsan on all of the things. And Dan, what about you? Where can they find you online?
Dan: [01:00:15] I’m always jealous of how you can be found on all the things, but then again, and kind of to the topic of this show, I’m not that jealous because if I could be found on all the things, then I’d always be checking all the things. But where you can find me is DJ jacobson.com. And DJ Jacobson, author on Instagram.
Good show, sir.
So in the chat, Garrett said, I randomly generate my social media usernames so that there are different everywhere and people can’t find me. And then he says, hashtag audience building fails. And Ben, what I’m trying to figure out is, is Garrett always just trolling us or is he for real?
Ben: [01:01:38] Oh, he’s for real,
Dan: [01:01:39] He’s, he’s for real.
Ben: [01:01:42] Garrett. Garret’s the guy who probably, well, and, and I don’t say this, I say this as someone who is completely oblivious and end uneducated about, like online security and how data is misused and all of that. Garret’s the kind of person who like. I feel pretty confident. He knows what he’s talking about when it comes to like the issues around data security and I should be doing things that he’s doing, but then there’s a part of me that’s like, ah, it’s probably fine, right?
I mean, who’s going to go after old Ben Tulson.
Dan: [01:02:27] Yeah, I’m pretty sure Garrett, I’m pretty sure Garrett has a whole podcast episode about that, that very topic, but you know, you know what Garretts what Garrett’s problem is, is that on the one hand, he wants to share all this information about protecting yourself online with everyone. And on the other hand, he wants to protect himself online.
So basically, Garrett is trapped in a web of his own creation, and I feel for him.
That’s right. Ben jokes are always funny. Or when you explain them.