These days, there are a million ways to communicate. So, lack of communication is merely a human issue–not due to a lack of channels or platforms by which to communicate.
Lately, I haven’t felt like writing as much mostly due to the amount of writing that I do on a daily basis–as much of it falls in the bucket of communications. Thankfully, I am lucky enough to have the ability to write on demand, even when I don’t feel like it. It’s that muscle that most marketers flex all too often.
Also, I likely haven't felt much like writing because of the amount of communicating that I do in a day. No loss of words to say the least.
Between email, texting, Social, Slack, Teams, What’s App, Discord, and even Telegram at times you could say that it can be a bit much sometimes. Various teams and individuals in various parts of the world, in different time zones, etc. At this point I’m used to it and that part doesn’t overwhelm me as my brain is used to that level of multi-tasking.
Then there’s oral communications like phone calls and Zoom.
Because I spend so much of my day communicating across these various platforms it can become easy for lines to not want to communicate with more people than I have to outside of the professional. Of course if you’re my family, one of my closer friends, or we’re in a relationship I’ll engage with you across most methods of communication, although it is harder to get me on the phone than via email or text messaging. I am sure that if you were to observe me, often it might look like I’m just playing on my phone, but truth is that’s where most of my communications happen across the various platforms throughout the day.
In the past couple of years, I have retrained people a bit so that their first instinct isn’t to text me, but rather to email me or reach me on one of the other platforms we use for professional interactions. A few years ago it was a different story and my texts inbox was constantly filled with unread messages, it still is a little but nowhere near that level. Nowadays it’s just certain members of my team, family, and close friends that really have that access to me. Every now and then clients or others find themselves into that, but I try to move most to email or other platforms pretty quickly so that they don’t get in the habit of texting me.
I don’t check my social inboxes very often either. Since part of the work that I do is to work on social strategy, the last thing I really care about checking is my own.
So what is prompting all of this talk about methods of communication? Well, throughout the past couple of years, but especially as we close out yet another year I’ve heard many people echo each other (even as recent as earlier today) that they will continue to set boundaries for their own sanity and productivity. For me part of that is keeping certain parts of me inaccessible to a majority of people to still have some of that time to myself.
The past two months I have spent more time by myself than I have been able to in a while, I use that term loosely as these days even when you spend time alone you can still feel like you’re still spending too much time with others due to Zoom calls and all of these aforementioned communication outlets. I was definitely feeling some of that burnout, plus it’s been a busy past couple of years–so says someone who typically is juggling ten million projects. I do need multiple projects happening at once like I need air to breathe. Mostly for the variety, the challenge, and the mental stimulation. It’s also usually why I end up reading two or more books at once or why I’m writing this and a video is playing (at the start of this I also had a documentary on). So overstimulation isn’t necessarily what burns me out, but what I have noticed is starting to burn out many around me is the 24-7 access that many now expect.
Not only do we have food delivery, film, music, and tv shows on-demand, but we also are in a sense humans-on-demand. So something has to give at some point if we’re going to give in to that new normal. I’m not quite there yet, but I also can’t say that I’m not a workaholic. I also thankfully do know how to have fun and disconnect, but what I needed most these past couple of months was to just be by myself. Giving oneself to others can be an enjoyable experience if it’s a positive engagement and you’re doing it out of free will, but you also have to be ready to give up some of your alone time and so that’s what I needed to pull back from–interacting with all friends became limiting it to just a few.
I know this period, as enjoyable as it has been as I do enjoy my own company, will not last. Next month, I’ll slowly start to go back to immersing myself (slowly) into the broader world, but if that is to happen, then that means that I’ll have to reign in other areas to open up that space once again for others to come in and to start growing other new projects and endeavors that I’d put on hold during this overly busy professional period.
And that’s what we all have to decide. By now I think we’ve all realized that we can’t give ourselves to everyone without the risk of depletion. Unlike the never-ending flow of content that can be consumed on-demand, our own vitality as humans does suffer when we try to function in the same way making ourselves available to others at all times. So now, before 2022 fully crosses your threshold it would be a good time to determine what boundaries you will put up and which will come down in 2022, as that’s ultimately what life is about– a balanced give and take where you trade one thing for another. There is no need to prove to others that you can do everything and hopefully even less of a need for you to prove it to yourself. But a balanced life is made up of different things for each and everyone of us, so don’t look to others to tell you what makes you happy, successful, or strong. Look to yourself and how you feel in various everyday situations or moments around certain people. You’ll know what goes and what remains and you’ll also know how much is too much giving of yourself.
Just because you did things a certain way for so long in your life or even just in the recent past, does not mean that you need to continue to follow that same path. You define what your future looks like based on the present in which you are currently living in, not the past that's already history and certainly not by others that don't walk in your shoes each and every day. 2022 will take continued optimization as we continue to further calibrate what being out in the world together again looks like. That in itself will take more than enough of our energy, not just for ourselves but for our communities and for the income-generators that we push forward.
So my advice for you for 2022 and I guess for myself as well is there is no right way and no wrong way to move forward into the new year. There is only your way. The path that feels right to you at this very moment and it may not be the same one that you'd spent time paving in the past--and that is ok.