I was on my phone too much. Mosquitos helped me change that.
Reflections from being alone in the woods for 24 hours
I did it again. 24 hours in the 🌳, alone without any distractions.
Here’s the deal. You bring clothes, a tarp, a sleeping mat, and some water - but not much else. No phone (duh), reading material, or anything to write on.
After finding your spot in the forest, you set up your tarp, and then... nothing.
You sit, observe the nature around you, and let thoughts come and go. I went through cycles of boredom and frustration, to being surprised by thoughts and memories, to feel inspired and connected with nature.
So what did I learn? There is a clue in this picture.
I am wearing a beanie and a scarf in the middle of the summer. Why? The answer: Mosquitos.
At first, I was frustrated, annoyed, and distracted every time a 🦟 flew around my head. Then after a while, I started to think... what is nature trying to tell me?
After some time, I realized the mosquitos were metaphorical for what I had been wrestling with in the last few months.
At home, I often felt bored and was distracted quickly. I was on my phone more often than I wanted, trying to escape reality. I wanted to change this bad habit, especially around my kids. I suffered from idleness aversion, a term I learned from reading Four Thousand Weeks.
In the woods, I discovered that if I covered my neck and head, the mosquitos didn’t bug me as much. They would still come occasionally but left when they learned they couldn’t bite me.
Now, every time I get distracted and want to grab my phone, I think of it as a little mosquito that wants to bite me and wants me to react and escape. But I’m better now; I feel protected by my ‘scarf and beanie.’
I try to stay present, observe and accept reality, and focus on what matters.
Installing the app One Sec has also been helpful in reinforcing this habit - by increasing friction when opening attention-sucking apps.
This was just one of the insights from my “solo quest.” It was my third time, and every time I do it, I’m amazed by how much inspiration I get from being alone in nature for 24 hours. It has become the ultimate way for me to step out of the daily rat race and routines; and then slow down, reflect, and recharge.
Now it is your turn
I recommend every leader take a timeout for self-care whenever they can. It stimulates the deep thinking that is required but often doesn’t get the space in your busy days. Take the example of Huib de Mulder (director Wonen at Rabobank) - who did something similar (in Dutch).
What habits have you adopted to take care of yourself? I’d love to hear from you. Simply hit ‘reply.’ or contact me.
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