Seven years ago, I deleted all of my social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, everything.
I made this choice to reclaim my time (I was tired of spending countless hours scrolling mindlessly on my phone) and to protect my mental health (I’ve been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, have battled depression, and social media wasn’t feeling like a kind friend to my brain).
I had tons of fears about leaving social media.
“How will I find clients and customers?” “Will my friends forget about me?” “What if I miss out on something important?” “Will I become invisible?” “What if I feel lonely and bored?” “But how will I know what that one person I met at a conference one time five years ago is having for breakfast today? I simply must know!”
But, fairly quickly, these fears dissipated.
After being social-media-free for a few weeks, a wonderful sense of quiet, space, and calm flooded my body. Like a reset for my nervous system. I felt less distracted, more focused, able to think more clearly and to complete projects faster.
Best of all, I felt more present in my life. I began to look up and admire the evening sky (instead of looking down at my phone). I could enjoy a meal with friends (rather than interrupting the conversation to snap a photo of my salad for strangers on the Internet to behold).
And all the terrible things I worried might happen? Becoming isolated, invisible, or suffering financially?
None of those things happened. In fact, the opposite happened.
My relationships improved. I felt closer to my loved ones. Instead of sending DMs, I switched to dinner parties, handwritten letters, weekly walks, and phone calls.
And instead of spending thousands of hours scrolling on various apps, I seized all of that time and used it to strengthen my writing skills, gain greater mastery of my craft, and refine my products and services to make them better than before. I ended up with more clients and customers (mostly through word-of-mouth referrals) and more income, not less.
I also wrote 4 more books.
Quitting has been a very good thing for me.
I want to make one thing very clear. I am not saying, “Everyone should quit social media.” If you enjoy social media and it brings joy and value into your life, by all means, keep using it.
What I am saying is, “Social media is optional, not mandatory.”
If you love it, use it. If you don’t love it, you can choose to make some changes.
You can quit completely, cold turkey. You can quit gradually with a transition plan. You can keep using it but establish new boundaries and limits. 10 minutes per day on the apps. Not 2 hours and 24 minutes per day, which is the global average.
You can bring your message to the world in other ways: through a podcast, radio show, speaking engagements, articles, essays, newsletters, a press release, product demo, info session, panel event, book tour, and so on. Twitter is not the only place to speak up and be heard. Instagram is not the only place to be seen.
Many people want to quit social media but—like me, seven years ago—feel frightened to do so. Perhaps you worry that the consequences will be too great.
I want you to know you can have strong relationships, a successful business, plenty of clients and customers, and exciting professional opportunities—without social media.
There are other ways to achieve what you want.
For starters, consider taking a break from social media for just one day. It doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. Just give yourself a tiny, temporary break to rinse out your brain and experience a bit of relief.
One day. See how that feels. Go from there.
Keep listening to that little voice that whispers, “Do I really need to include this particular thing in my life? Is it harming me more than it’s helping me? Could there be another way?”
There is always another way.
. . .
PS. If you want explore this topic a bit more, check out these pieces I wrote:
And, check out The Marketing Without Social Media Course.
During this course, you will take a social media detox to rest your brain. You will explore 100 marketing options that don’t require social media. You will develop a new marketing plan for your business–one that feels calm and inspiring.
…when Alexa Fischer, a friend and client of mine, hopped into the shower.
As the hot water pounded down, she lathered up with shampoo, and then—zing—like a lightning bolt, an idea flashed into her mind.
All at once, she could see it. A beautiful bracelet with a hollow compartment. Write down your greatest wish on a tiny slip of paper. Roll it up. Tuck it inside. Wear your wish—on your wrist—as a daily reminder to go after your dreams.
Alexa felt a strong calling, unlike anything she’d felt before. It was physical and intense. She knew, in her bones, “I need to make these bracelets! People need these bracelets!”
There was just one little obstacle.
Alexa didn’t know anything (zip, zero, zilch) about how to make bracelets. She wasn’t a crafty person. She didn’t know anything about running a jewelry business, manufacturing, shipping, distribution, none of that.
This was one of those wacky shower ideas that didn’t make any logical sense. Yet she simply knew, “I’ve got to do this.”
Alexa got to work. Soon, her kitchen table was covered with beads, glue, elastic strings—dozens of messy first attempts as she struggled to figure things out.
She researched online. She called friends for help. She tested products and refined them. She put together a website. She booked a booth at a trade show to demo her products.
Little by little, word began to spread. Orders came in. People wanted Wishbeads bracelets for themselves, and for their parents, siblings, kids, and friends. Often, people emailed Alexa personally to share the wishes they’d made. Many of these emails brought her to tears.
Alexa worked hard—for years—to shift Wishbeads from a quirky idea into a legitimate company.
Today, Wishbeads are sold in 100 stores around the world, major catalogs, and beyond.
She is currently planning her biggest event yet—One Million Wishes—where one million people will make a wish, all at the exact same moment.
It all started with a hot shower and a wild idea that came out of nowhere.
Moral of the story:
Pay attention to ideas that arrive in the shower, the tub, while you’re walking the dog, or staring vacantly into space. Your best ideas come when you’re not actively looking for them.
When you get an idea that sends shivers through your whole body, run with it, and don’t stop until you’ve made it real.
The greatest project of your life might be a complete swerve, an unexpected left turn in the road.
Go take a shower.
PS. Good questions to discuss over dinner tonight with your pet (they’re great listeners) or with your human family:
– Have you ever gotten a great idea completely out of the blue? Did you proceed with it? Or ignore it?
– What is your greatest wish at the moment?
– What is something you could do to make it more likely that this wish actually comes true?
– What is a very tiny wish you could easily grant for yourself without much fuss or trouble?
– Do you need to take a shower?
This is Zuki.
He is a dog.
Today he is a glossy, healthy boy with lots of personality.
But when we first adopted him from the rescue place, he was not in the best shape.
We don’t know his full backstory, but when we got him he had itchy bits, sores on his skin, and big chunks of hair missing. One leg was almost completely bald. He was so tired and lethargic. Sometimes he would sit upright and then fall asleep (while still sitting up) and slowly topple over.
And he was terrified of water.
Even the gentlest water—like a quiet babbling brook, only a few inches deep—completely scared him. He would step close, look at it nervously, and then dodge away as if thinking, “I am not getting close to that liquid demon, not a chance, no thank you!”
But, gradually, little by little, we’ve watched his bravery grow.
One day, he felt ready to tentatively dab one paw into the water.
A few months later, he walked in all the way up to his belly.
Eventually, if we tossed a ball into the water, he would go retrieve it.
Just a few weeks ago, I watched this little fur-baby confidently leeee-aaaaapp into the water, splash around, grab a stick, and even doggy-paddle swim in the deeper part. Completely wet! Plus a happy shake-shake-shake to dry off once he was back on dry land.
He has even conquered his greatest fear: ocean waves! At the beach, if he sees a wave coming onto the shore, he stands a respectful distance away but he no longer cowers behind my legs.
Watching Zuki’s transformation has been such a joy.
And, his story carries so many lessons for us humans, too.
This is what Zuki has taught me about bravery:
– The thing that terrifies you the most might eventually become your most favorite thing. And isn’t that so strange and wonderful to consider.
– Zuki used to be terrified of water but now he loves playing in it. Maybe you are terrified of marketing, sales, raising your pricing, pitching, public speaking, or sharing your writing publicly. Maybe one day this will be something you do confidently and even enjoy deeply. Incredible changes can, and do, happen.
– Bravery is a progression. You can start small and build from there.
– Maybe today, you take a tiny brave step. Text a friend to let them know that you started your own business and ask them to celebrate this new chapter with you. A few months later, a scarier step. Raise your prices instead of undercharging or working for free. Maybe eventually, a major step. Do a national media appearance to share your story with the world. Every step builds momentum. Every step is a big deal.
– Just like Zuki, something that feels impossible today might feel completely normal, routine, mundane, or even “easy” one year from now. A lot can change in a year.
– A kind person can guide you to the water and help you feel safe, but only you can decide whether to dip in your paw or not.
– You have to make that first move, even if it feels scary. Nobody can do it for you. You have to be the one to raise your hand and ask, or submit the proposal, or apply for the grant, or ask someone to hire you, or attempt the new thing and do it messily and try again, or whatever step feels oh-no-no-no scary to do. It’s you. It’s got to be you.
– You are braver than you think. You are a survivor. You are resilient. You are scrappy and tough. You have done brave things in the past and you can do it again. You can and you will.
And Zuki is cheering for you.
It takes 100 years for a redwood tree to reach its full height.
In ideal conditions, a healthy tree will grow about 2 to 3 feet per year, patiently reaching for the sky. 2 feet doesn’t seem like much, but year after year, it adds up to something mighty.
We live in a culture that values speed in all things—instant payment, lightning fast downloading and streaming, same-day free shipping, tap-post-click-swipe, immediate gratification.
When something doesn’t happen immediately, we often shrug and decide “it’s not meant to be” and give up. In our frenetic dashing, we forget that it takes time for big trees to grow.
Several years ago, I decided to offer a workshop about how to write a book. To save money, I figured I’d present the workshop in my living room rather than renting an expensive venue.
That first workshop, 8 people showed up. 4 of those people had been given free tickets and 4 paid to be there.
I remember feeling a mixture of hopefulness and discouragement. A part of me felt like, “Wow, it was tough to fill the seats in the room. I had to practically beg people to come.” My ego was a little bruised.
But the workshop went beautifully. As people left the room, I sensed, “there’s a tiny seed of ‘something’ here. I don’t know what yet. But it’s something.”
The next time I offered the same book-writing workshop, 10 people came. And the next time, 20. Then I decided to offer an online version. 50 people enrolled. Foot by foot, branch by branch, the project kept growing.
Last year, we had 150 people in the program—beyond my wildest dreams. We were able to offer 30 full scholarship spots, too.
This year, more than 250 people.
All through the year, my team and I receive emails from folks sharing photos of books they wrote—fiction, non-fiction, poetry, cookbooks, children’s books, all kinds of treasures—and stories about how becoming an author has changed their lives.
This project has created a ripple effect that’s beyond anything I imagined, and, in many ways, we’re just getting started. It all started at a table in my living room.
What I’ve learned is that not everything needs to be fast.
Sometimes, the best things move slow.
Maybe, with certain projects, the solution isn’t to push harder and faster, but simply to keep showing up and give it time.
Like the saying goes, don’t leave before the miracle happens.
Who knows how tall your tree will grow?
I have a friend named Theresa.
She’s a Tarot card reader, astrologer, and author, and she’s been successfully self-employed for nearly 30 years. She’s had her fair share of victories (press coverage, bestselling projects) and rough times, too.
Once upon a time, Theresa received a really nasty 1-star review about one of her books.
At first, she was hurt and upset. It rattled her confidence. After all, it’s never fun to see someone declare that your book is “a total waste of money” and “not worth reading.” Not exactly a mood-booster.
But she decided, “I’m not going to let this review bring me down. I’m going to flip it around. I will turn this negative energy into pure positivity.”
She immediately went to Amazon and posted a glowing 5-star review about a book that someone else wrote.
Immediately, she felt better. Her mood lifted. She felt powerful instead of wounded. And, she decided to make this a regular practice.
Whenever something discouraging happens in Theresa’s life or career—a bad review, a disappointing financial quarter, or anything else—she finds a way to “flip it around.” She does something to send the opposite energy out into the world.
I’m so inspired by Theresa’s attitude and I’ve tried to follow in her footsteps.
For instance, if I’m feeling anxious about money, instead of hoarding my resources, I do the exact opposite. I start a scholarship program. I help a colleague find a new client and get hired. I teach a free class. I make a donation to a good cause, which usually reminds me how fortunate I already am. I do something generous to flip the energy around—and I immediately feel better.
Whatever is going on, there’s always a way to flip it around.
Take a cue from Theresa.
Whatever feels stuck, discouraging, or hurtful in your life or career…
Flip it around.