It started off as something I only did in moments of needing mild distraction. I’d post something online for my business, take a quick look around at what my friends were doing on social media, then get offline and back to work. But then my “quick look” turned into longer and longer stretches of time. One day in particular I calculated that I spent four hours on social media — half my work day.
It became a natural part of my day. But I realized that the longer I spent doing it, the worse I felt about my life. I began to wonder why I kept coming back when it made me feel so bad. It wasn’t even about “staying connected” anymore.
In an effort to find out what I was actually doing with this time, I decided to take a seven-day inventory of what happened in the moments prior to every incident of autopilot-social media activity. It didn’t even take 48 hours before I realized I browsed for hours at a time as a pressure and anxiety release valve. Because, when it came to an area of my life where I had great insecurity and doubt, my “friends” seemed completely secure: financial success in their businesses.
I’d read through months of newsfeed updates and seen pictures of people whose profiles delivered the promise and dream of what life might look like if I could figure out “success and money” too. I’d examined their well-manicured and perfectly presented lives, how many people “liked,” “hearted,” or “shared” their updates and compared myself unforgivingly to their ever-increasing popularity and social media fame.
Now I’m not saying financial success is my only metric for success in life. However, when it comes to running a business in its infancy, it is one of the first indicators that helps you determine if your business is viable or not.
My other personal metrics for success in life include:
- Playing full out (did I go BIG?).
- Risking my fears coming true in pursuit of making my dreams come true.
- Feeling fully alive.
- Making extraordinary choices in the face of challenges.
- Giving and receiving more than I thought I could.
Finally, one day I told myself: Kristen this social media madness has got to stop. So I set up a 40-day detox.
Despite my financial success (six and quickly moving toward multiple six figures), I often felt uncertain and worried about where I stood. I realized that when I was stuck and something didn’t work as planned, (e.g. I lost a contract, I didn’t make my numbers), I’d spend exorbitant amounts of time on Facebook and Instagram.
So, instead of facing the current challenge head-on, I used a pressure relief valve. And by relieving the pressure I stopped myself from getting to a place of breakthrough. All of us have pressure relief valves, especially when it comes to dealing with money. No matter what stage of “handling your money” you’re in — whether it’s starting to save, pay off debt, selling your company or investing.
Here are some common examples of other types of pressure relief valves I’ve heard friends use as I revealed this experience to them:
For some it was even something seemingly healthy like overplanning, or delegating the decision to someone else. If you’re wondering why everything on this list starts with “over” it’s because for a pressure relief valve to work, we intentionally have to make it louder and more distracting than the pain of the problem at hand.
Here’s what I’ve learned and accomplished so far during my 40-day detox from my pressure relief valve:
- I generated a list of the areas I want handled when it comes to money and success.
- I hired a bookkeeper and she reconciled too many years of moving too quickly and not caring enough.
- I found an accountant who could help me set up a payment plan with the IRS to pay my back taxes.
- I said yes to an opportunity to be in front of a much bigger audience with my work.
- I tracked down money that was overdue from two clients.
- I paid off more than $10,000 in debt.
What’s your relief valve? And what are your metrics for success (in life and professionally?) Leave me a comment below. And know this — you’re not alone.
Kristen Domingue is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.