simplify

Most of the time, I’m hopelessly addicted to technology. I have the habit of answering e-mails while I walk, placing my phone next to my plate while having a meal and dropping anything I’m doing whenever the red light blinks on my Blackberry. My news feed is filled with inspiring article on behavioural psychology, entrepreneurship and travel waiting to be read. Throughout the day, I take a picture of everything worthwhile. Then I crop it, enhance it, and instagram and tweet it.

London Eye, London (UK)

While technology has in many ways contributed positively to my life, I am constantly battling electronic temptations that threaten to take over more of my time available than I would like to commit. The promise of half an hour surfing the web rarely ends after 30 minutes. A quick Facebook fix can easily become a 20 minutes distraction. One interesting article links to another one, and without realising it another 40 minutes have passed. After an hour and a half of meaningless browsing, I wonder: where did my time go?

On a regular morning commute, I stopped immersing in my Kindle and looked around me: most of my fellow commuters were too engaged in their phones, their music or e-books to acknowledge anything around them. If George Clooney walked into that wagon, nobody would have noticed.

It was then that I realised we are missing out on the real moments. We are missing out on the opportunities to be moved by something real instead of a photo or a Youtube video. We are missing out on the chance to experience something unique instead of reading about it on someone’s Facebook wall.

Sunset in Thailand

As part of my 2014 goal to simplify, I’ve started to be more mindful of my use of technology – not only because I want to be more present and available to real experiences and connections, but also because the overuse of technology causes unnecesary stress and busyness. Does our technology addiction make us think that we are more essential than we actually are?

I have started turning off my iPhone at night and only checking my e-mails after breakfast. I regularly take my 45 minute commute without electronic distractions, taking this time to think and observe. And whenever I get the urge to check my phone, I first asses whether I really need to or it’s just a reflex. And I’ve come to a great realisation: the world did not end while my phone was turned off or without reception.

I want to be conscious of how I spend my time and figure out ways to reduce the importance of it in my daily routine. Being addicted to technology is simply a bad habit that needs to be broken.

For the rest of 2014, I’m going to explore more of the art of unplugging: picking a phone-free day and putting my iPhone and Blackberry away from the table when I’m not on a live project. Limiting my texting and e-mailing to times when I’m not in a social environment.

Do you unplug regularly? What are your best tips?


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I recently spoke with a good friend about New Year resolutions and how they never seem to last because, well, life gets in our ways. You see, after careful thought I’ve realised that the past few years have always held one huge life changing event that I would have never thought of in January of that year. Some examples:

  • 2013: I moved from London to Barcelona for 4 months on a 3 week notice.
  • 2012: I quit my well-paid and respected job in commodity finance to do something more creative.
  • 2011: I was offered to move from Switzerland to London on a 4 months notice.

Do you see what I mean? How am I supposed to set New Year resolutions if I don’t even know in which country I’ll be in or which sector I’ll be working in?

Playa Ancón, Tenerife (Canary Islands)

My life as it is doesn’t allow me to set very tactical goals on a long-term basis – I want my goals to be more strategic.

As I usually do, I looked for an answer in Google and came across a completely new approach to New Year resolutions that seems to adapt way better to my lifestyle – Choosing three Words that reflect my overall goals of the year (a method created by Chris Bogan).

Grow

30 St Mary Axe, London (UK)

Last year I lived in continuous uncertainty. Even though I learned to enjoy the excitement and curiosity about what’s next, the lack of groundness (is this actually a real word?) made it an impossible scenario to grow professionally. In 2013, I grew experiences – but 2014 is the time to become more intentional about my new career path. Obtaining an official certification in Project Management, learning Brazilian Portuguese and concentrating on developing new business contacts and opportunities are three specific goals I have set myself for this year.

Grow also resonates with my saving goals. I haven’t always been responsbile with my own money (which is rather strange for someone who has specialized in finance). In fact, 2013 beat my savings up hard. Whatever little income I had, I spent it in less than a month and from there on, tapped into my savings. This year, I’m moving into a more affordable flat, setting up a direct debit of 200 GBP a month to go into my savings account and am being more conscious about where I put my money in.

Simplify

Chamonix, France

I’ve learned a valuable lesson in 2013 – Being open to change is way easier when you don’t have other long-term commitments. You see, when I accepted moving to Barcelona, I didn’t really give enough thought to the fact that I was going to be paying for two flats at the same time (one of them being in one of the most expensive cities in the World). How easy would it have been if I didn’t have a long term contract, all my thoughtfully bought furniture and 10 boxes full of clothes!

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to turn all minimalistic (I do enjoy having more than one pair of jeans), but just simplifying things (both, emotionally and physically) whenever possible. I’m starting with decluttering my wardrobe and moving to a more flexible rental in London. I firmly believe that less complexities and clutter around you also brings clarity and reduces stress – an added bonus!

Radiant

Sunset from Las Terrazas del Sauzal, Tenerife

In 2014, I want to feel as radiant as the sun. One of the many definitions given to this beautiful word is having or showing an attractive quality of happiness, love and health. There couldn’t be any word more global than this one.

I want to feel energized, healthy and happy. I’ll continue to exercise regularly, go to bed before 11:30pm and get up in time to have a decent breakfast at home. But I’ll also be consciously reminding myself of the things I’m thankful for (specially on those days I feel like it’s me against the World). If there’s anything that 2013 has taught me is that in the end, everything will be ok.

What are your three words for 2014?