Getting Back to Growth

After shutting down the discussion forums a week ago, I took some time to think about my major focus for 2012, as I like to do at the beginning of each new year.

To wrap up 2011 and transition to 2012, Rachelle and I went to Phoenix for Raw Spirit Fest, and then yesterday we took a side trip to Sedona to meditate in one of our favorite spots. This retreat gave me time to reflect on the past year and to understand what I want to experience next.

During the past few years, I’ve been very active in the social circles surrounding my work, including connecting with people in the forums, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, email, talking face to face, doing consultations, holding workshops, hosting meet-ups in various cities, and so on. I maintained a strong community-oriented focus for much of this time.

For a while it was my conscious choice to immerse myself in all this social energy and to bring people together in various ways. I enjoyed it.

Eventually I began to feel a bit trapped though. Instead of choosing all this social interaction, it became an ever-present part of my life, whether I wanted to engage with it or not. It no longer felt like a choice. I’d engage in social networking simply because I’d been doing so for years. It became unconscious and very routine. Consequently, I developed quite a love-hate relationship with it. When I freely chose it, I loved it. When I felt like I was being sucked into it, I resisted it. I’m well aware that this influenced my interactions with people as well.

I now understand that it’s time for me to move on from this community-centered focus. It was a nice thing to experience, and it stimulated a lot of growth for myself and others, but I know it’s not the best choice going forward. If I keep doing it, it will only hold me back, and it will also suck others into more unconscious socializing.

Getting wrapped up in other people’s energies (thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc) on a daily basis can be stimulating and rewarding, but the endless repetition can lead to resentment. That isn’t how I wish to feel about my social life, nor do I wish to serve as that kind of model for others.

If I continue actively immersing myself in the social community surrounding my work, I’ll become a victim of my own past. People are typically drawn to my work based on what I’ve written about in the past, but that isn’t who I am today, and it doesn’t accurately reflect where I’m going. When I keep connecting with people who are interested in discussing ideas that I explored years ago, it means I’m not keeping pace with my own path of growth. It’s like trying to drive while looking in the rear view mirror — after a while you begin to hate driving, even if you’d otherwise enjoy it when looking forward.

I’m delighted that so many people resonate with my work. Last month my web traffic hit a new all-time high: 12.4 million page views. Yet all of those pages contain content that was created in the past.

Essentially I’m faced with a question of priorities. Do I continue to actively engage with the social community surrounding my work and allow myself to keep getting re-immersed in past ideas, past energies, etc? Or do I let it go and focus on my own present and future path of growth?

For quite a while, I tried to do both and strike a balance. My efforts along those lines thus far have failed. Maybe a balance is possible, but I can see now that this balancing point isn’t going to be on the side that invites daily social connections that tie me to the past, such as emails, article feedback, private messages, questions, etc.

All this social energy has been acting like an anchor. When I try to move forward, it keeps tugging me back to old ideas I’ve already explored. It re-introduces old problems I’ve already solved but that other people are just beginning to solve. It tempts me to engage in old discussions that have no growth value for me today.

This month is my 15-year anniversary of being vegan, for instance. Is there any value in having the “why vegan” discussion with someone who hasn’t even done a 30-day trial of it yet? Will it be helpful to do more interviews on polyphasic sleep? Do I care to engage with people who think organized religion is the path to salvation? No… that’s looking to the past. I’d rather connect with people who can inspire me to keep growing. To make room for empowering connections, I’m consciously cutting connections that encourage me to keep looking backwards.

I love helping people grow, but I’m not willing to do that at the expense of my own growth.

So in 2012 I want to recenter my life on my path of conscious growth. I want to disengage from all the discussion surrounding my past work and free myself to explore life on my own terms once again.

The forums are closed. My online contact form is closed. I deleted my Facebook page a few months ago. I follow zero people on Twitter, so no one can send me a direct message there. My Google+ page is now closed to comments. If you wish to discuss my work, you remain free to do so; just don’t try to involve me in such discussions.

Socially I’m only keeping open the doors that I consciously choose to keep open, such as my workshops. But I’m closing the doors that encourage too much unconscious communication, such as feedback and questions related to past articles.

Part of this shift involved preparing for the upcoming Conscious Success Workshop, which starts in 11 days. One reason I enjoy creating workshops is that they push me to keep raising my standards. My vision of success involves consciously pursuing my own path of growth, and I want to know that I’m solidly living that vision before delivering this workshop.

As I clear out the mental and social clutter, I’m feeling much lighter and more enthusiastic about this coming year. I’m anticipating new experiments and experiences. I especially love this fresh opportunity to fully engage in what captivates me without regard to other people’s feedback.

In some ways I feel like I’ve been assimilated by the Borg collective for the past few years. There were so many voices in my mind that it was difficult to stay connected to my own desires. Now that those voices are quieting down, I’m enjoying the bliss and peace of reconnecting with what I love most — conscious growth experiences.

Disconnecting from the social elements that didn’t serve me doesn’t mean I’m disconnecting from the world. I love to write and expect to continue doing so. Reading people’s feedback on my writing, however, is something I can live without. I feel I’ve digested enough feedback about my writing to last me a few lifetimes, so I’m cashing in some of those credits to opt out for a lifetime or two.

In addition to refocusing on my own path of growth in 2012 and closing the door on daily social networking, I’d like to reorient my social life to spend more time connecting with others who have similar priorities when it comes to pursuing growth experiences. I had hoped I might meet such people through the social networks surrounding my work, but that didn’t happen. One reason is that such people would rather engage in growth experiences than in discussions about growth. They’d rather travel than talk about travel… would rather speak than discuss speaking… and would rather start a business than talk about starting one.

I don’t want to connect with such people in order to have more discussions about growth. I’d rather connect with people who are up for pursuing some growth experiences together — like traveling together, conducting experiments together, or tackling projects together. We can always talk to each other in the car, on the plane, etc.

Most importantly, when I connect with people, I want to do so from a place of conscious choice, not from a sense of habit, obligation, or routine. What’s most important to me in life is pursuing my path of growth. That comes first. But when this path meshes nicely with another’s path for a while, then why not explore our paths together if it’s something we both enjoy?