To this day, my father tells me that "life begins at the end of your comfort zone." So I try to be conscious of my zone of comfort and deviate accordingly.
It's no secret that we live in an endless state of connectivity. I find it mind-blowing that we're spending a staggering 4.7 hours on our phones every day. Clearly, one of the hardest areas in which to break out of our collective comfort zone is our relationship with technology ... but what if I told you there was a way?
Where the thought of unplugging can give us a sense of anxiety, the cathartic impact is significantly greater. So for the willing, try out this hack for two weeks and see if you don't come back with your juiciest idea--ever.
You're going on an adventure. Not quite Lord of The Rings, but maybe Lord of The Forest. That's right, you're going hiking.
Drive to the location and begin mental preparation. You'll be off the grid for approximately 2 hours, so inform anyone you need to. Once you've arrived, turn your phone off (this part is very important, as you're physically unplugging). Then, leave phone in vehicle. I repeat: Leave the device in the vehicle.
Embark on the trail of your choice. If you're at a state park, feel free to grab a trail map and pick your poison (not ivy). Enjoy it for about 30 minutes -- take in the scenery, maybe throw a rock in the water, pick up a walking stick, or say hello to passing hikers. Overall, you should be appreciating what is most likely your new personal best for the month in terms of how long you've gone without looking at your phone. Channel your inner Laurence Fishburne and "free your mind" (thanks, Morpheus).
Here's the most important step, and where you amplify being uncomfortable:
I want you to get lost.
Literally, I'm suggesting you deviate from the trail and create your own path for 10, 15, 20 minutes. Once you're uncomfortable with how far you've gone and begin asking yourself, "Do I remember how to get back?", go a bit further. Then turn around and find your way back.
I got lost a few weeks ago at Patapso State Park (Ellicott City, MD) and it was invigorating. The sun was starting to set and some low-level survival instincts started kicking in. I found myself paying attention to things that have simply been lost over the years -- familiar trees, similar scenery, the sound of water, etc. My adrenaline-filled attention-to-detail reached new heights. I was both nervous about finding a way back, yet excited to not be dependent on technology. I couldn't Google this one. Yes, I found my way back, and it was incredibly freeing.
Repeat 4-6x over the course of 2 weeks. This isn't a 'one-time' thing, and it's critical to keep doing it. It's safe to say that we're all habitual users of technology, so the goal here is to fast-track a habit to supercharge your creativity, while embracing being uncomfortable.
The results? Just after my first hike, I had an unbelievable sense of heightened awareness, creativity, overall clarity with work --and yes, 3 "big ideas" to help move projects forward.
We often get buried and lost in our initiatives. Finding your way back with minimal resources will not only empower you, but will amplify the root of your capabilities. I humbly challenge you to try the same.
Now get lost!