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A Life-Changing Morning Routine, For Less Than The Price Of A Latte

What's your current morning routine like? Let me guess: You hit the snooze alarm at least three times. You originally wanted to get up early, but you stayed up way later than you expected after you fell down an Instragram hole stalking Whatshisname, for God knows what reason (but it seemed super important at the time). You finally succumb to your alarm, grab your phone and — without even thinking — head straight to what I call the "Morning Circuit" (aka the order in which you check each of your social apps). After what feels like 10 minutes (but is usually a half hour), you check the time, realize your late and do your best "Home Alone Airport Scene" impression to make it to work by the skin of your teeth.

How'd I do? I'm not psychic. This was my morning routine before my detox.

Before you put your feet to the floor each morning — heck, before you've yawned and stretched, is your attention going straight to your social feed? Before you've mapped out your day or thought about your one, five or ten year goals, are you getting pulled into the time and energy suck of social media? 

Before you’ve mapped out your day or thought about your one, five or ten year goals; are you getting pulled into the time and energy suck of social media? 

When my clients go on their week-long social media detox, I ask them to create their own personal rules and guidelines for how they will and won't use social when they come back online. More often than not, NOT checking social media in the morning — or at the very least before they've had their morning coffee — is a prescription they write for themselves. But why?

I believe there's something special and sacred about mornings, a time when the world hasn't asked anything of you yet. There's a stillness. There's a breath before we have to take off in the marathon of our day and its demands. (I think night owls experience this too, only their clock is set a few hours ahead. Instead of 5, 6 or 7AM — their stillness is at 1, 2 or 3 in the morning.) 

As still and as sacred as mornings inherently are, there is nothing that has made them more magical than when I've been in the practice of Morning Pages. For those of you who don't know, Morning Pages are an exercise developed by Julia Cameron as part of her book The Artist's Way which I recommend to anyone who's hit a creative block (or doesn't see themselves as a creative to begin with). Morning Pages are so simple, but they yield the most phenomenal results. But you don't have to take my word for it, simply google "Morning Pages" for personal account after personal account of its power. 

Morning Pages are a writing meditation that is to be done long hand, first thing in the morning, and enough to fill three pages. That's it. Write about whatever you want. Write your grocery shopping list. Write about your eye allergy. Write yourself a reminder to take your car in to be serviced. Just write three pages and don't look at them. Let them go and see what happens.

Morning Pages are a tough love friend. They urge us to face the unfaceable. They urge us to take action on our own behalf. Instead of the generic answer, “I feel fine about that,” we learn what it is we really feel, and it is often not “fine.”

Morning Pages give us a safe place to vent our hidden emotions.They urge us to be true to ourselves. They reward our honesty with forward motion. It is nearly impossible to write Morning Pages and remain stuck.
— Julia Cameron

During the periods of my life when I've religiously done MP I've had bursts of ideas and inspiration, as well as great clarity about my life. I launched projects and watched things fall into place. (It's not too dissimilar with people's experiences with regular meditation.) During the periods of my life when I've had the greatest resistance to restart MP, it's always been because I was too afraid of what would come up for me in my pages. There were things I just wasn't ready to face about where I was in my life and what I would have to do to get unstuck. 

I offer Morning Pages as an alternative to your current morning routine (especially if it involves a "Morning Circuit" of checking apps) because I truly believe people often run to social media for the same reason I would avoid doing Morning Pages: many are afraid if they had a moment of stillness in the morning, they would have to face what they are currently unwilling to face

This week, I invite you to grab a notebook. I'm sure you have an extra one in your office, or maybe you'll buy a fancy one (HomeGoods has the best ones for the price, in my opinion), or simply grab one from the Dollar Store. Then, leave it on your bedside table and watch what happens when you reach for it in the morning. Pay attention to what starts to shift for you and what opens up in your week when you shake up your usual routine. 

Drop me a line and let me know how it goes. 

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Who Unfollowed Me: WHY? and HOW DARE THEY!

When issues with social media use arise with my clients, it typically falls under one of two categories: the need to feel seen and the need to be a voyeur (aka lurkers). Today I want to talk about a third category: those who feel the need to lurk on their own lurkers, more specifically, those who use third-party apps to see who has unfollowed them on Instagram. (Sorry to be the bearer of bad news for those of you just learning these apps exist — suddenly realizing a random old coworker from 5 years ago may have gotten a push notification the moment you hit "unfollow".) 

For those of you struggling with your use of stalker/unfollow apps, let's crack open a can of LaCroix and have some real talk shall we? 

Any social media manager can tell you, digging into the analytics of an account can be an invaluable tool to help shape your brand voice, strategy and content. And while digital marketers spend monthly team meetings pouring over data for learnings, you know what they don't do? Have a long conversations about why Sally in Tacoma, Washington unfollowed us. "What could we have done to make Sally unsubscribe?!" And they don't have a push notification that goes off anytime any other "Sally" unfollows them either. Can you even imagine a major brand like Nike with millions of followers keeping track on that level? 

But my guess is building a social following had a lot less to do with the real reason you forked over a couple of bucks and your Instagram handle and password to some random (possibly unvetted) app. You use it because, you've just gotta know. With this app you don't just have a hunch as to who unfollows you, you have an AHA! Knowledge may be power, but how does knowing who has unfollowed you made you feel any more powerful in your life? I'm going to take a wild guess that it's actually making you feel pretty crappy (at best). 

  What are these unfollow apps really costing you? 

What are these unfollow apps really costing you? 

Which brings me to my friend Joey. Joey and I started out as study buddies in high school, but soon became friends because I found I could be my dorkiest, silliest, weirdest self around him. He just made me feel so incredibly comfortable in his presence. (People who are comfortable in their own skin tend to do that.) Not long ago, Joey shared his secret to being confident and comfortable, and it came from an unsolicited piece of advice from an unlikely source. He said the best piece of advice he ever got as a kid was from a teacher who said point blank, "Some people in life just aren't going to like you, for reasons you'll never know." Some kids may have been crushed by this news. But Joey, he was liberated.

Some people are going to unfollow you in life, and for reasons you'll never know. You could spend every waking hour trying to make your social feeds as vanilla as possible to try and appease all the "Sally's" in the world. But guess what, some people still don't like vanilla. 

It’s less important to figure out why someone unfollowed you as it is for you to figure out why is it so important for you to know.

I believe it's less important to find out why someone unfollowed you as it is for you to figure out why is it so important for you to know. I know it's hard to believe, but learning why they unfollowed you won't give you the closure you're looking for. That said, if you're still pulling your hair out trying to figure out why, here's a little quiz that should help. Simply answer "Yes" or "No" to the following:

1. I often post racist, sexist or anti-semitic content YES  NO

2. My Instagram posts promote violence against other living creatures such as small kittens or other human beings. YES  NO

3. If I am honest with myself I admit to doing something hurtful in real life to the person who unfollowed me such as: dumped him/her, cheated on him/her, stole large sums of money from this person, stole his/her boyfriend/girlfriend or [insert shitty behavior]. YES  NO

4. I still post memes from 2009 -- and often! Basically, I'm terrible at Internet culture.  YES   NO

If you answered NO to all of these questions, guess what? You have NO REASON to keep yourself up at night. You are free to move on to the next thing. Like most things in life, it's probably nothing you did, no matter how personal it feels. And c'mon if you're really being super honest with yourself, you can understand how a work "friend" from 5 years ago whom you never see or hang out with (and maybe never did) could unfollow you. 

If you're having trouble really pinpointing why it's so important for you to know who (and exactly when) someone unfollowed you try free writing — or just sitting with — the following questions: 

How does knowing who unfollows me add to my life? 

and

What do I have to gain by not knowing who unfollows me and using an app like this? 

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