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  • Keenan Benjamin

    Keenan is a professional and personal life coach, motivational speaker, writer, and sports enthusiast. He recently left a successful career in financial services consulting and moved to India to launch Conscious Motivation, so he could dedicate himself full-time to helping clients live the life they dream for themselves.

6 Reasons Why Social Media Gets in the Way of Life

Time is our most valuable commodity, so why do we waste it so frequently? One of the greatest ways in which we waste our time is on social media. We must learn to harness social media for our benefit, without letting it handicap our dreams. I used to spend the majority of my free time drifting through social media—and life. Like many, my infatuation with social media came from the dopamine rush that we all experience when our posts receive likes, comments, and retweets. This online feedback gives us the same warm feeling inside as when we receive a compliment, and it can become extremely addictive. However, this pleasurable feeling is short-lived, and we need to post more and more frequently to continue experiencing the same rush. While caught in this vicious pleasure-seeking cycle, we lose sight of real happiness; happiness only experienced when we pursue our goals and share our special gifts and passion with the world. Everything changed for me when I became mindful of my gift and passion: assisting people in overcoming suffering and achieving their personal and career goals. When this happened, and I aligned my life with my gift and passion, I was able to harness social media for my purposes instead of letting it dictate my life. “It takes discipline not to let social media steal your time.” - Alexis Ohanian If you find yourself unfulfilled and second-guessing if there is more to achieve in life, here are six ways in which social media could be killing your dreams. 1. Brain Drain One of the worst feelings is when we have something important to do, but our brain lacks the energy to focus. Creative brain energy is how we generate our best ideas. It is also how we have the clarity to execute tasks at a peak level. Scrolling through social media drains your brain of this valuable energy, an energy that could be used to build the life you desire. 2. Cloudy Mind It is impossible to feel motivated when your mind is cloudy. We cloud our mind with hundreds, maybe thousands, of new thoughts when we use social media for even a short time. Consider a small sample of thoughts we have while viewing one Instagram photo: Who’s in the photo? Do I care about them? What are they doing? What are they wearing? Where are they? If we had about 10 thoughts for each photo—which is probably an underestimate—and viewed 10 photos a minute (one photo every 6 seconds), we would have had 1,000 individual thoughts in only 10 minutes of Instagram scrolling. Now multiply that many thoughts by the amount of time some people spend on social media each day. Is it any surprise that our mind is not clear enough to accomplish our goals? 3. Long-Term Rewards > Short-Term Pleasure We present the best version of ourselves on social media. Friends, family, and strangers like and comment on our posts, giving us a temporary rush of pleasure. However, these short-term feelings of pleasure evade us when we are not on social networking sites. Conversely, the pleasure that comes from achieving our dreams comes very slowly. We have to commit ourselves to our dreams, and validation may take days, months, and even years to manifest. However, when we do arrive at our goals after long-term sacrifices, the contentment we experience is exponentially deeper and longer-lived than what we feel through social media validation. 4. Conflicting Priorities Actions speak louder than words. Many people talk about their goals and dreams but spend most of their free time making Snapchat/Instagram posts. If we spend more time on social media than on developing our gifts, like I used to, it becomes quite obvious why we are not reaching our potential. Identify the life you desire so that you can prioritize your daily activities and work towards your goals. 5. Missed Opportunity to Network Some of my life’s most fortuitous moments have come from those close to me or me having conversations with strangers. The person who can expedite the attainment of your known (or unknown) dreams could be sitting next to you on a bus, train or plane. But we may be heads down in our social media feeds instead of asking them how they are doing and introducing ourselves. These are missed opportunities because we are prioritizing interacting with people who are not present to those in our life right now. We never know how the person next to us could change our life, or vice-versa. We must put down our phones and start making the most of the present moment. 6. False Sense of Underachievement Lastly, people rarely share their lows, which can occur as often if not more often than the highs that they share online. When you are trudging away in pursuit of your dreams, do not let your ego be bruised by the perceived successes of others, as showcased on social media. We all must walk our own path, and cannot put a timeline on when the door of opportunity will open to us. The only thing that matters is that we keep our heads down and continue to develop ourselves, so that once the door opens, we have the ability to walk through it.

What Are You Willing to Sacrifice for Your Dreams?

What Are You Willing to Sacrifice for Your Dreams?

To get where you want to go, you will have to make sacrifices. Our society’s growing awakening to the fact that money does not buy happiness must be accompanied with the realization that sacrifices are inevitable in pursuit of real joy. For example, we may need to sacrifice a comfortable salary when we leave a corporate job to chase our goals or dreams. I came face-to-face with this realization in 2015, when I decided to leave a highly lucrative position as a business development executive at a top consulting firm in the U.S. What Are You Willing to Sacrifice for Your Dreams? Great achievement is usually born out of great sacrifice. - Napoleon Hill At the time, I had what most would call a dream job: flying around the country, engaging clients over expensive dinners, and attending top sporting events. And yet, I never felt as fulfilled in this high-flying lifestyle as I did when I was mentoring teens or helping friends, family, colleagues, and strangers overcome whatever challenges were causing them suffering. It was my awakening to this truth that inspired me to leave my successful corporate career and move to India in February 2016, with plans to launch a website called Conscious Motivation and become a professional and personal life coach to clients around the world. READ: Unfulfilled? Here Are 5 Ways to Find the Courage to Quit Your Job With such radical change came a lot of sacrifices; sacrifices that we all have to make when following our heart into the unknown in pursuit of a life of real fulfillment. Sacrifices need not be approached with negativity. In fact, if made correctly, it is the sacrifices themselves that will give you the freedom to achieve your goals and dreams. These sacrifices can be broken down into two categories: material and social. Material sacrifices You must be willing to sacrifice some material comforts to pursue your dreams. When we walk away from a guaranteed monthly income, and face less or no income, we must be open to living with fewer ‘things.’ The most common material sacrifices, for those of us who have these privileges, will come from our choice of home, personal vehicle, and lifestyle. Of them all, however, it's usually our lifestyles that offer the greatest opportunities to downsize our spending habits, often by cutting back on the amount we spend eating out, drinking or shopping. We tend to spend a good deal of our money on things we want more than the things we need, and this is especially true with shopping. By associating the acquiring of new things with happiness, we get into a cycle of craving more and more things. We need things to be happy, and this is a fact that is fed to us constantly. But true happiness originates on the inside, by aligning our career and daily life with the passion that lies within our heart. My first year in India, I did not purchase one article of new clothing. Shopping was a sacrifice I was happy to make to ensure that I was not wasting money I may need in the future to invest in my goals. And even though I cut my total spending by 90% that year, the ability to live my dream made it the happiest year of my life. We can adjust the way we approach downsizing. Downsizing is not a negative thing. In time, you will find that with less mortgage or car payments and fewer shopping trips, you will have much greater freedom. And freedom is priceless. Social sacrifices Social sacrifices are often more challenging than material ones. This is largely because material sacrifices are an attachment to the ego, but social sacrifices are often attachments of the heart. With only 24 hours in the day to focus on our goals, there will come a time when we may need to be selfish and dedicate the majority of our time to the pursuit of our goals. You will have to make sacrifices, and miss special occasions and trips with friends and family. You will also have to be less available, whether in person, by phone, or online. However, those most adversely affected by your sacrifice — your partner, family, and friends — will also be those most rewarded when you return more fulfilled and content with your life. Freedom through sacrifice The joy you will experience in making sacrifices cannot be quantified; it is a gift beyond measure. Sacrifices free us, financially and socially. They also free us emotionally, as we give ourselves over fully to our dreams and goals. And if you still find yourself hesitating, remember this: it is not about what we have to give up; it is about what we stand to gain.