Good or bad, I’ve never been one to follow the crowd. And at different times throughout my life, that has earned me a reputation as a rebel, rulebreaker, or loner. Some just called me stubborn. But when it comes to success (however you define it) and actually getting done the things you set out to do, following the crowd can potentially hold us back. We have to be able to recognize when it’s time to up the ante.
Let me put it this way. I’ve learned that sometimes it is necessary to step outside of the norm and, in the most polite of ways—or sometimes not—flip the bird at those expectations others tried to set for me.
Leaving the Shade
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve received a lot of feedback on my decision to get off social media. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before during previous times when I did a social media detox:
I don’t think I could do it.
I’d love to do that, but…
You’re right, social media is a time suck. (Said as they scroll through their Instagram feed)
I need to keep in touch friends and family (I can see the validity in that, sort of. But what does friendship mean in the digital age?)
Every choice we make about how we spend our time has implications, including my decision to get off social media. The fear of missing out (FOMO) on something adds pressure because everywhere I turn ‘experts’ tell writers to use social media to promote their books and author brand. But I can say that sales from social media posts have been negligible in comparison to actual promotion tools like Amazon, BookBub or Facebook ads, or my e-mail newsletter. Staying on social media would have kept me in my comfort zone doing the same thing over and over again—and getting the same, frustrating results.
That’s why I’m focusing on becoming relentless, and figuring out what it will take to get to the next level. And as Tim Grover writes in Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable: “Everyone can handle pressure. Most people choose not to because it’s easier to stay safe in the comfort zone. But if you want to be successful, to have that place in the sun, then you have to leave the shade.”1
Up the Ante
Culling my social media presence to near-zero has forced me to up the ante. It has compelled me to stare down my biggest fears and dreams. Because now I’m asking myself not what I want, but how bad do I want it? What am I willing to do to succeed? Will I let fear hold me back or use it to propel me and my dreams forward?
The pressure is immense. Knowing, now, what I need to do, means that I’m all-in. It is, for better or for worse, my singular focus. I’m not looking for balance in my life, because winning wants all of me. It becomes, rightly, an obsession. Because it requires all of your time and focus and your heart, and “it’s extremely difficult to create meaningful space for anything else. You can’t achieve balance in all areas of your life.”2
I’m not asking anyone to get on board with this, I’m not asking permission. I’m stating how it is, right now, for me.
Anyone who has ever created anything and shared it with the world knows the fear that comes along with that. Because when we put our creative projects out there for public consumption, it not only opens us up to criticism, it exposes who we really are. But there’s another fear, too. That if we don’t do things as others in our field are, if we don’t stick to ‘the rules,’ then we’ll be ridiculed or ostracized.
In all that we do, we have to find our way through the forest. We might not take the same route as other, because it might not lead us to where we need to be. It means being willing to, when necessary, up the ante by going against the grain.
Right now, being off social media is helping me stay focused on my path—where I am now, where I’m headed, and what I need to do to get there. And that responsibility is my own, nobody else’s. And whatever the consequences, I’m prepared to live with them.
1 Grover, T. (2013). Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, New York, Scribner, p. 103–104.
2 —. (2021). W!NNING: The Unforgiving Race to Greatness, New York, Scribner, p. 85.