Reporting from the Field: My Social Media (and News) Fast Is Done

I’m baaaaaack!

Social media fast = officially over.

Like most things in life, it was a mixed experience. An emotional cocktail with hints of blessed silence, a dash of itchy irritability, stirred up with huge doses of smugness, disorientation, and disconnection AND connection – both internal and external.

Traveling different pathways lets me view things from new vantage points, and I suspect I’ll continue to percolate on my learnings as I reintegrate into the digital world. For now, here are some of my reflections:

  • There are good reasons to gather online. I came back online to post inside some groups, both for professional reasons and personal ones. Sometimes showing up and being present for things that matter is more important than digging into social and political stances.
  • It’s supremely noisy online. My personal filters get worn down easily, and as Van Jones said beautifully in this interview with Tami Simon, it’s okay to stretch myself.
  • I’m mindful of how much I consume for entertainment’s purpose online. One of my recent intentions is to put more of my focus on my creation rather than my consumption. I’m not a purist by any means, but I’d like the balance to tip more toward creation.
  • It’s really hard to discuss online behavior without being sanctimonious.
  • I used this experiment and my own internal wrestling about the role of social media and news in my life and in the world and the place I want to drive toward – I used it to distract myself from my substantive inner work and acts of creation, particularly with my business. As Steven Pressfield says,

“Resistance is not a peripheral opponent. Resistance arises from within. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. resistance is the enemy within.”

My resistance – my fear – decided that this question of whether I could morally and healthily participate in the online world was a handy distraction from doing work that really matters to me. So, I’m setting down this question and turning towards substantive work for myself. I just rebuilt my website, and I’m putting together some other tools that I want to use with my clients in the coming months. So, yes, I’m baaaaack – in more ways than one.

And let me tell you, I wasted no time posting kitten and cat photos. Because isn’t that really what the internet – and life – is all about?

A New Treasure for Workplace Guidance

Folded hands with watch

Along with many others, I’ve bemoaned the creeping tide of ageism and the seeming irrelevance of those of us who are over age 50. How can I help it when I hear from so many of my clients about their sudden panic after a layoff, their frustrations in finding a new pathway for themselves as their experience climbs and their interests shift, and their irritation at the emphasis on youth in their organizations?

I’ve found an antidote to my rising pessimism in the form of Chip Conley‘s wonderful new book Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder. In it, there’s inspiration, learning, truth, examples, and hope.

Some of the treasures for me include:

  • New terminology: I’d never heard the term DQ (digital intelligence), so I now have language to use to articulate what I value in my kids and their generation. One of the words that Chip coins is “mentern,” which is a combination of mentor and intern. He talks about publicly interning and privately mentoring and the value he gives and receives using this frame. His outline of the qualities of a modern elder shifts me from dread to aspiration.
  • A pathway amid the disruption: This isn’t a book that dictates easy answers. It’s one that asks us to dig deep, to act from our core, and to forge ahead using a blend of our internal drive and market forces. Retirement isn’t an option for everyone, and it frankly doesn’t have the appeal that it once did. Conley urges us to “rewire, don’t retire,” and his timing couldn’t be better.
  • A process for coming back to ourselves: By describing his own path to claiming his elderhood and including his bumbling and imperfect ways of getting his bearings, there’s so much permission and modeling here about being vulnerable and competent at the same time, about recognizing our own value and releasing the need to prove it using antiquated mechanisms, and about aligning our behavior and our values. One example of a tool that he used himself was to shift from offering answers to asking questions.

In a constantly changing world, great questions may be more important than answers. Traditional elders had the clever answers. Modern Elders have the catalytic questions.

I’m delighted that there’s a chapter for organizations to embrace the current demographics and to make room for the shifting tides of our extended longevity, our own urge to contribute and participate, and our new economic reality that requires work from many people well past the age of traditional retirement.

But the heart of the book is a call to action on the part of the individual. Conley models embracing and shaping this new era. He asks us to define and share our wisdom, to be both humble and assertive, and to live fully in these years that used to be spent on the golf course and in the yarn shop. Golfing and knitting may still be fulfilling and fun – they’re just not the only avenue available to us.Walking green, carrying golf clubs

One final note: don’t skip the appendix. It’s almost a complete book itself, filled with quotes, resources, and a succinct distillation of the book.

Okay, yet another post-script: consider listening to the book on audio. Conley narrates the book himself, and it’s a delight to hear his inflections and emphases. Just like sitting down to an extended meal with him for an enriching conversation.

I Don’t Have a Crystal Ball, but I Do Have these Resources

Crystal ball

Remember when app developer wasn’t a job title? It’s unlikely that any of us remember when elevator operators and milkmen had steady work, but our grandparents saw those jobs as secure.

Whether we look forward or back, there’s instability in the job market. In my outplacement work, I often heard people who were experiencing an involuntary layoff say some variation of, “I don’t care what I do next, I just want it to be insulated from market forces.” I wish I could have delivered guarantees for those folks, but the truth is, all we’re ever doing is wagering.

Instead of betting on the market, I suggest that people bet on themselves. What does it mean to bet on yourself? Three things:

  • Invest in your professional development
  • Stay connected to your existing network and intentionally grow it
  • Keep your finger of the pulse of market disruptions

Since professional development is so specific to each person and #networking is written about quite a bit already (including by moi), let’s hone in on the final item.

I tap into emerging trends through some key websites and podcasts that I regularly monitor. These aren’t affiliate links, and I don’t have any investments in these organizations. I simply find them useful for myself, so I’m sharing them with you.

Websites

  • Ozy: News site with the tagline See Beyond. Focused not just on “where the world is, but, more importantly, where the world is going.”
  • Big Think: News site with another great tagline: Your Daily Microdose of Genius. They claim to “share the world’s biggest ideas from the world’s greatest thinkers.” There’s also a podcast produced by these folks called Think Again.
  • Creative Mornings: Lectures in locations throughout the world specifically for the creative community. A bit like TED but focused on creative work. If there isn’t a group near you, sign up for the newsletter and watch some of the recorded lectures. 
  • Springwise: Focus on disruptive innovation with a global reach.
  • LifeHacker How I Work Series:  The How I Work series asks heroes, experts, and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more.

Podcasts

  • WorkLife with Adam Grant: A production with TED focused on extraordinary workplaces and what makes them stand out. Even the commercials are insightful. Perhaps my favorite podcast of all time. Well…that sounds too inflated since I’m such a podcast junkie. I’ll give it at least a top 5 ranking.
  • Women Killing It: I’ll just quote from the website copy: “Career rockstars share what has worked for them, how they got where they are today, and what they wish they knew sooner.” Favorite episode = Nilofer Merchant – she’s an amazing thought leader.
  • Pivot: Produced by Jenny Blake who wrote a book by the same name, all about career and business trends. Her newsletter is always full of great ideas, too.
  • Akimbo: Produced by Seth Godin. Mostly about entrepreneurs, but also covers cultural change.

Specific Articles

I have a section on my Google news page that I’ve customized called “jobs of the future,” and here are two hits that I’ve returned to a few times:

If you have resources that you recommend, I’d love to hear about them. Contact me and let me know.

My Summer Reading (and Viewing and Listening) List

Bookcase with plant in Maggie's office

I”m not gonna lie. Been feeling a little restless since I started this social media fast.

On the plus side, I’ve had more time for reading, viewing, and listening on other platforms, and I thought I’d share the ones that are (mostly) career-related.

  • Salary Negotiation – The title says it all: How to Be an Ace Salary Negotiator (Even When You Hate Conflict). One of my favorite lines, “negotiation should be a conversation, not a confrontation.” I also appreciate that gender is addressed in this article, which brings me back to a video from the archives that continues to surprise me no matter how many times I watch it. One final note about the ace negotiator article: it comes from the Smarter Living section in the New York Times, which is one of the few blogs I subscribe to and read faithfully.  Another recent fav covered FOBO (Fear of Better Options, which I see often in my practice).
  • Networking – A new-to-me artcile about shaking up the traditional paradigm around making connections for the sake of exploring a career and/or finding a job. It’s called The Best Networking Advice: Stop Asking People to Coffee. Bottomline: don’t be formulaic.
  • Prototyping Career ShiftsPivot Planet is an organization that allows you to talk to someone in a specific field and get the real truth of what it’s like. There’s a fee for time with these folks, but it takes the awkward ask out of the equation that shuts many people down. So, if you’re curious about being a wine importer, professional speaker, shipbuilder, animation film producer, or another esoteric or mundane professional, this is fun site to explore.
  • Job CraftingHidden Brain, one of my favorite podcasts, just rebroadcast an episode on Dream Jobs, which is wonderful because I missed it when it first aired. The episode covers meaning and purpose at work, adding credence to my latest motto: seek purpose to build passion.
  • Finding Meaning and Purpose – The article called Want to Love Your Job? Read this Article offers more insight along the theme of meaning. Notable line: Your work may not change the world. But your approach to it makes a meaningful difference in how you and those your work with, and serve, feel.
  • Multipotentialites – Emilie Wapnick’s TED talk called Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling isn’t new to me. Delivered in 2015, it’s becoming a classic in the career world, but I include it on this list because I’m talked to so many clients these past few months who haven’t heard it and who feel validated and affirmed by Emilie’s message.

It would be a stretch to call these other favorites career-related, but they’re just so darn good, I’m compelled to add to my list. I hope you’ll indulge me.

  • Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette special on Netflix – Part standup routine, part advocacy talk. It was absolutely stunning to witness how masterfully she delivered such a powerful message. She’s someone who has clearly done intense personal work, and what I really, really love about her talk is that she serves as an amazing role model for women being angry in an effective and meaningful way. Simply exquisite work.
  • Sarah Blondin’s guided meditation – My sis suggested I listen to this particular meditation called Loving and Listening to Yourself. 12 minutes of pure affirmation and nourishment.
  • Rachel Simmons’ book Enough As She Is – The modern version of Reviving Ophelia, covering social media, perfectionism, and academic pressure and how it tends to affect girls. Vital for parents of teen and college-age girls and also a great glimpse into social pressures on girls and women.
  • Tara Brach’s talk – I’ve been searching for a way to articulate to myself and my clients the difference between acceptance and resignation, the difference between greeting what’s here and resisting and wrestling with what’s already happened, the difference between turning toward and turning away from our experience, and Tara Brach’s talk called Saying ‘Yes” – Meeting Your Edge and Softening comes as close I’ve ever heard.


I love hearing what others are watching and listening to, so send me your suggestions.

 

Designing Your Life Certification = Done!

Bill Burnett, me, and Dave EvansI traveled to San Francisco in late July for what I call my “middle schooler at a Justin Bieber concert” moment. Yes, I’m so much of a Designing Your Life nerd that meeting Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, the authors of the Designing Your Life book, made me a little giddy. I did manage to refrain from shrieking with delight.

I was one of the 45 coaches in the inaugural class of certified coaches. It was a thrill to spend a day with like-minded coaches, and it was fun to have such an international cohort (17 of the people there have an international presence). Together, we geeked out on Odyssey Plans, dysfunctional beliefs, and mind maps. We learned about Failure Maps and Impact Maps, which aren’t in the book but offer a new dimension of career exploration.

It was a useful behind-the-scenes glimpse of the DYL process, and it inspired me to integrate this work even more into my practice. A few more highlights:

  • Wicked problems, the ones that we use design thinking for, are those that even after we solve them, come back. Career definitely fits into this category.
  • You are the agent of your own life. Many of us look externally for solutions, but that’s rarely where relief lies.
  • Epiphanies, passion, and plans are touted as the pathway to fulfillment, but they’re red herrings. Instead, curate your curiosity.
  • Good decisions are deemed “good” NOT because of the outcome, but because of the process.
  • Most people fail because their aim too high with their behavior change. Incremental change sticks.
  • Integrating logic and creativity offers great ideas (most of rely solely on analysis and disregard imagination).
  • If you’re not missing out, you’re not paying attention. Flip from FOMO to JOMO.
  • People don’t want a job, they want a life, so it’s important to approach career as part of a bigger picture.

There’s so much more – about discarding superpowers for the sake of being human, about determining where we want to have impact, two key questions to get the heart of any matter, and about maintaining humility in this tender territory of designing our lives.

 

I’m Starting a Social Media Fast

My 20-year-old decided to erase all of his social media accounts. It took him days because he was determined to remove the tags that linked him to photos that other people (okay, mostly me) had posted.

I admired his commitment to his principles (“Facebook isn’t going to make money on my data!”), his discipline (don’t worry – he’s still a typical 20-year-old, plugged into Netflix and listening to music), and his insights (“Mom, you know when you post a photo of Audrey, even though she doesn’t have an account on Facebook yet, Facebook is still tracking it – she has a shadow account on there, you know?” Um…no, I did not know that).

I blissfully returned to my usual pattern. I like Facebook. I like Insta. I’m finally figuring out Twitter thanks for my renewed determination to be politically active. #NewToHashtags. I like scrolling through my newsfeed in these spots and catching up with people who are dear to me, with people who I want to know more deeply, with people who I see as ahead of me on journeys that matter to me. It’s entertaining. It’s connecting. It’s enlightening (I’ve read some great, insightful, informative, paradigm-shifting articles and blogs because friends posted them). It’s mind candy (those goofy memes and videos get me), and it’s inspiring (who doesn’t love a riveting video?).

Then, I watched The Daily Show‘s skit about Facebook and that was hard to ignore. Not super hard since it ran months ago.

Since I still think about that clip, I decided I want to take a hiatus from FB (#DelayedReaction).

“Couldn’t I just move over to Instagram?” I whined to my son.

“Mom, Instagram IS Facebook! Facebook owns Instagram. Why do you think you can push your Insta posts to FB?”

Cripes.

Yeah, I knew that.

I’m not as decisive as my son. I’m keeping my accounts. I simply want to prototype (a la Designing Your Life!) my life without the big players. LinkedIn is an exception since I use it professionally so often (#rationalization), and my LinkedIn account pushes to Twitter, so anything I post there will show up on Twitter, but I’m not going to Twitter, FB, or Insta to read anymore. For a while anyway.

While I’m playing with this social media fast, I’m committing to posting more often here on my blog (not hard – it’s woefully neglected!).

As my favorite self-care article of all time reminds me:

Self-care is often a very unbeautiful thing. It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution. It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do…

And, yes, I did, in fact, just go to FB and find that quote. #Irony

I’d love for you to stay connected with me here on my blog. And the truth is, I don’t go and read other people’s blogs (*hangs head in despair*), so if you’re in the same boat (who has TIME for that?!), here’s Plan B: subscribe to my email list. I set up a separate list for people who want to receive a monthly email with links to the blogs I write here. Know that subscribing to that email list is a temporary thing. I’ve wiping that list if/when I return to the big social media players, so if you want to be on my real email list in addition to my temporary, stay-in-touch-with-me, temporary deal, click here.