Momentum Podcast: 650

Stop Creating Reactivity

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

If you want to continue being triggered, then don't follow this advice.

If you'd like to be more present, more aware, and even have a longer attention span so that you can get more done, then this is for you.
I have a confession to make. Starting in March when everything went crazy, I stopped following this advice for a few weeks and it cost me. I feel more tired, more reactive throughout the day, and I found that I was looking at my phone way too much. It made it harder to concentrate in meetings, more difficult to get things done, and I even started feeling some anxiety.

Thankfully the fix is simple, it takes barely any effort, and it really does change how you feel.

Full Audio Transcript

This is The Momentum Podcast.

Being reactive and triggered are pretty much baseline states nowadays, but if you'd like to be more present, more aware, and even have a longer attention span so that you can get more done, then this episode of The Momentum Podcast is for you. Alex is going to take you through a simple framework to be more present, more aware, less tired, less reactive throughout the day. In fact, Alex used this exact framework in March when everything went crazy. The good news is that it barely takes any effort at all. I hope you enjoy.

I'm Alex Charfen and this is The Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds, those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat, because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. Instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution, and we always will be.

Here's something that is clear in the entrepreneurial world today. It's really just clear in the world today. Let's get real. Since March, when things happened and when things went kind of crazy in the world, people have been more reactive. People have been more anxious, more aggressive, more challenged. I think that there's so much that's contributing to that right now, it's kind of overwhelming. When you look at what's going on in the world, we have this crazy illness out there that's scaring people, we have tons of political divide, we have a serious financial challenges. There's just a lot going on.

When you look at our population in general, especially the population of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs are under a tremendous amount of pressure and they're hearing a ton of noise. Pressure and noise is at a very, very high level right now, and for a lot of people, for a lot of entrepreneurs, pressure and noise is probably at an all-time high. For a lot of people, this is more than they've ever dealt with in their lives. Their kids are at home or they're not going to school or their business is struggling, there's just so much going on out there.

In periods like this, what I work to do is to be as nonreactive as possible. I want to create as much presence and awareness as I can. I want to lower the pressure and noise in my life dramatically, as much as I can, so that I can show up in a way where I'm making the right decisions, where I'm seeing all of the details where I'm accomplishing that magic trick that you and I do as entrepreneurs. We get up every morning, we travel into the future, we create a new reality, come back to the present and demand it becomes real. We have to acknowledge that that takes a tremendous amount of effort for people like us. Here's what I've been seeing. There is this massive amount of reactivity in the entrepreneurial space and anything we can do to tear it down is going to help. Well, let me share with you how really for a lot of April, May, even part of June, even a little bit recently, I totally let go of the discipline that I have and I have felt the reactivity come rushing back in. It took me a few weeks to figure out, hey, where is this coming from? I'll share it with you. I think that what we do in the morning, first thing, programs us for the rest of the day. Let me just rephrase that. I think when we get up in the morning, what we do first thing is going to program us for the rest of the day. You get up in the morning and you eat candy, your body's going to want candy for the rest of the day. We train people how to drink water. You get up in the morning, you drink a bunch of water, your body's going to want water for the rest of the day. In fact, it's one of the ways we get people to drink more water, is getting up in the morning and hyper hydrating, because you get this dose of water and it starts your metabolism going with water and your body wants more water throughout the day. Well, here's another thing that happens, and I'll share very candidly what happened to me. Prior to March, I had removed all social media from my phone and I was only carrying around this phone that had no social media. It was basically a phone, it was basically a flip phone, but I had pulled everything off of it. I had this phone at home that I would use only for social media, about 10 or 15 minutes a day. I wasn't really involved with screens a lot. I was doing a lot of planning, I was starting to doing a lot of other stuff. Well, then the coronavirus hit and I started using my phone more. I started using the social media phone a lot more. I started answering entrepreneur's questions and posting stuff about the coronavirus and getting really involved in it. When I make posts on social media, I feel this responsibility to go back and answer as many of the comments as I can, so I was doing a lot of that. It even got to the point where I went from having all my social media on my social media phone to they snuck back onto my regular phone. What I realized was I was getting up in the morning and grabbing the phone, and on the way down from my bedroom, I was looking at social media on the way into my office. I was going through the motions with the phone first thing in the morning, and then I would flip over to email and I would go from Facebook to Instagram. I mean, how many of you know that you have almost this subconscious program that when you pick up your phone you go from one app to another, to another, to another. How many of you know that you do this? I know I do. I know that I'm seeking something in this. Here's why this is so crucial and so much of a game changer in your life. If you simply get up in the morning and don't access this screen, or in my case, these screens, for the first hour that you're awake, at least the first hour, and you use paper and you read books on paper and you interact with the world without the screens, it is a massive game changer, because here's what happens. When I say that what we do first thing in the morning programs us for the rest of the day, here's what happens when you open your phone and start responding to email or social media or anything else, are you ready for it? This is what we have to understand. The fact is that we are programming ourselves to be reactive. We are getting up in the morning and we're programming in reactivity. We are accepting reactivity at the very beginning of the day. Even worse than that, when we get up first thing in the morning and we start to react and we start to answer, we are letting anyone who sent us an email, made a comment on Facebook, sent us something through Messenger, said something on Twitter, was on Instagram, sent us an Instagram message, any of those, we are letting them manage our focus first thing in the morning. Now, here's why I think this causes such a massive dramatic effect in our lives. When we get up in the morning and we look at this phone, first, we need to know something. These phones put off more blue light than the sun at high noon. When we look at this, it programs our entire body that it is high noon at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning, whatever time you get up. For me, it's between 4:30 and 5:30, I'm looking at this thing and my body is getting high noon light, which right there, we throw off our circadian rhythm. Our body starts advancing everything in our system. It starts releasing chemicals and saying, "Hey, we're not ready for high noon," so thyroid gets used, your sex hormones get used, adrenaline gets used, whatever your body needs to get you to high noon. That's the first thing that happens. The other thing that happened says this blue light actually releases happy chemicals in our heads. How many of you have ever been in a conversation with someone, with somebody and you look down at your phone? Or you're listening to somebody and then without even realizing you're breaking conscious connection with the person that you're actually in a spoken relationship with, you're back on the phone looking at something? Or how many of you, when you're standing around somewhere, feel the need, the drive, almost the urge to pick up the phone, look at it, and flip through all of the apps like I just talked about it? All of us do, and here's why. The cell phone, not only with the light from the screen, releases dopamine and releases oxytocin and connects us to the happy chemicals that we're going to get in an artificial way. The programmers of the apps, especially the programmers that you have who have big budgets, have entire teams of psychologists that are doing everything they can to get you addicted to these apps. There is actual addictive programming built into them, so when you get up in the morning and you look at your phone first thing, you there's this cascade of challenging behaviors that happens and all of them will make you more reactive, more anxious, more pressured, more anxiety focused. It's one of the easiest things to do, is to set these things aside for the first hour of the day, at least, and here's what you will avoid. You will avoid your body seeing high noon and throwing off your circadian rhythm. You will avoid reacting first thing in the morning, which programs you to react for the rest of the day. You will avoid getting into the place where you are now, programming yourself to be reactive during the day, to let everyone who's on the other side of a communication manage your focus for the day. What you gain is you gain quiet entry into the day. If you do sit down and plan or sit down and write in a journal, you actually gain the ability to be more focused, more present, more aware. All it takes is setting the screens aside for the first hour, or sometimes for me, it's hour, hour and a half, two hours of the day. Here's what I can tell you with certainty. The days where I get up and I'm on the phone early and I'm reacting early and I'm looking at social media early are the days where I find myself on the phone all day. It's the days where I find myself on a Zoom meeting with somebody else and I look at the phone and I had the urge to pick it up. When I say the urge to pick it up, most people don't know this, but when I was much younger, in my twenties, I smoked and I smoked cigarettes pretty compulsively. I was a heavy smoker. I remember the feeling of looking at a pack of cigarettes and having the urge to pick one up. Well, at 47 years old, I can tell you, when I get up in the morning and I use the phone first thing in the morning and I look over at it when I'm in a meeting, that same urge feeling, that same drive feeling to pick it up is the same feeling that I used to feel when I was addicted to nicotine in cigarettes. That is such a painful realization for me. It's like, holy cow, I don't want to let this thing, this thing I use to run my business that makes me millions of dollars, I do not want it to cross over into some unhealthy addictive behavior and I certainly don't want it to program the rest of my day for me subconsciously. I said earlier I had a little confession to make. Here's what's happened to me in the past couple of weeks, a few times. I'll get up on a Saturday. I get up way before my family. I don't really have a drive to do anything because it's Saturday and maybe I didn't lay out anything the night before. I don't have something that I'm really excited about or driven to go and get, and I will accidentally on the way down the stairs, flip open the phone and look at Facebook. Then by the time I walk in my office, I've cycled through some stuff on Facebook, maybe a few minutes later I've flipped over to Instagram, then I'm on Twitter, then I'm looking at the latest news articles and flipping through the phone and literally going through the addictive cycle that they want me too. What I notice on those days is that I'm picking it up over and over and over and over again. This week I've been very deliberate. I've made sure that I've separated myself from the phone in the morning. I've even used a stopwatch as a timer because there's a couple of things on my morning routine that takes some time that I actually want to have timing for. I've started using this stopwatch so I don't pick up the phone to use the timer, because what I also realized was I would pick up the phone, go to the timer and end up back in the apps, back in the reaction, back in the oxytocin, back in the positive feeling that you get from this. By setting the phone aside in the morning, you're going to improve your sleep cycles, you're going to improve your focus, you're going to improve your awareness, you're going to slow down reactivity, remove some of the anxiety we're all feeling right now and be more present and aware. As an entrepreneur, those two qualities of being present and aware are the things that really ... Awareness and presence is what lets us see the opportunity. It's what lets us understand what we should do next. It's what lets us go into the future, create a new reality, come back to the present, demand it becomes real, but also know what to do next. In order to stop reactivity and completely change the way you go through your day, set screens aside and take an hour, hour and a half, two hours. As long as you can, break from screens in the morning and you will almost immediately start to see behavioral change. If you don't start the addiction in the morning, if you don't tell your body that it's there, if you don't let it know it's readily available, you're not going to have that same addictive feeling, that same feeling of I need to get there, I need to look at it, I need to touch it again. Then maybe when it's on your desk, you won't even and have the urge to pick it up. It's pretty shocking for me. I'm the process, structure and routine guy, and it's pretty shocking for me that I've been doing this, because it's been so long that I've been telling our members and clients not to. But also, you know what? Every once in a while, especially under extraordinary circumstances, we all miss, we all get into a place where we're doing something that we know we shouldn't. This one has really knocked me between the eyes. If I look at the phone in the morning, I want it over and over and over again during the day. Setting it aside has changed everything. Give this a shot. If you do, if you try this for a couple of days, come back to this post and let me know what you think. I'd love to get your feedback on it and understand what it did for you. If you're looking for the process, structure and routine to help your business grow, go to Check out our nine-level framework on what it takes to go from zero to a hundred million dollars in business. It doesn't matter where you are in that journey, we will show you what level you're at of the entrepreneurial journey out of those nine levels, what you should be focused on right now, what you need to make sure you have in your business and where you're going so you can anticipate what you need next. It's Tomorrow morning, try and experiment. Set the phone aside, don't even look at it for those first hour, hour and a half that you're awake, and see if tomorrow isn't a far more productive day than the days when you look at the phone first thing in the morning. Go to billionaire We look forward to connecting with you, and thanks for being here.

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