I was talking to a friend the other day who lives in London. This fact alone isn't revelatory or unique. What's revelatory to me is how connected we are now. In ten seconds, I can instantly connect with another person on another continent.
We live in a hyper-connected world and the majority of us have complicated lives with many moving parts. Living in this type of state 24/7 has led to a rise in stress and anxiety among many other issues. As great as technology has been for us, it's left us devoid of a big thing we all need--time alone.
Why intentional solitude is a necessity
In today's times, western culture has unfortunately equated the desire for solitude with people who are antisocial, sad, or lonely. But the thing is, solitude is the very thing many of us need. It's the thing I much-needed.
Along with many other entrepreneurs growing businesses, I oftentimes feel a sense of guilt for not working. But as I researched this more, some of the most successful people set aside time to think and contemplate life.
For instance, people like Warren Buffett have spent as much as 80 percent of their career reading and thinking. Finding time for solitude is a necessity. Stealing pockets of time for solitude isn't only beneficial for our mental and physical health, it's beneficial for our businesses as well.
In fact, by setting aside one hour each day for solitude and thinking, I can easily state that my life has improved. While there are many possible benefits of solitude, here is the biggest improvement that I've noticed.
You're able to learn about yourself and think deeply.
We hear all the time about self-awareness. But how many of us truly know ourselves? I thought I knew myself. But each day, after another 60 minutes comes and goes, I'm learning more and more about my true self.
When we don't disconnect, we don't allow ourselves time for reflection. In a business sense, we don't allow ourselves time to reflect and improve the problem arising in our businesses.
You may think of yourself and the business as separate entities, but they are not. As Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited: Why Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It states:
"Your business is nothing more than a distinct reflection of who you are. If your thinking is sloppy, your business will be sloppy. If you are disorganized, your business will be disorganized. If you are greedy, your employees will be greedy, giving you less and less of themselves and always asking for more. If your information about what needs to be done in your business is limited, your business will reflect that limitation. So if your business is to change--as it must continuously to thrive--you must change first."
As I learned, we don't have business problems, we have life problems. And this concept can extend across multiple disciplines.
Schedule your time of solitude
You most likely schedule proposal meetings, dates, and workouts (I hope). Your intentional solitude habit isn't any different. You might feel guilty about stealing time for yourself, but realize selfishness is a much-needed habit to truly be at your best.
Mark some time off in your planner or Google calendar. Lastly, disconnect in your alone time which means turning off the television and internet (i.e. the distracting sites we all know).
It'll feel difficult or even downright boring, but intentional solitude is giving your brain a chance to reboot, rest, and replenish itself so you can come back stronger, smarter, and healthier.