My brother Russ recently told me the internet is the new couch potato. I busted out laughing. That’s really runny. But I got to thinking….he’s on to something.  Everywhere I look, people have their heads down, staring at their phones or working on their iPads. What are they doing? Sometimes I look and see Solitaire on the screen or little people exploding and quite a lot of Facebook. So my brother was right- the internet is the new couch potato.

What is my point? We could take the time we spend on the internet every day and drive to the pool to swim a few laps. We could take the new paddleboard yoga class at the pool or join the Masters Swimming group. Haven’t you been talking about going to a yoga class for the last six months? What about the guitar lessons that you have always wanted to take? Or that photography class? You can do 25 sit-ups in the time it takes you to play five hands of Solitaire on your iPhone.

Teenager With a Laptop Texting on a PhoneWhy would we rather spend time on the internet than swim, attend a yoga class, ride bikes or go for a walk? There is a word for it…..it’s called “avoidance behavior.” When something is somewhat difficult, like stepping out of our comfort zone and trying that yoga class or committing ourselves to a new work-out routine, or just not fun, such as cleaning the house, organizing the closets, or doing homework, it’s much easier to go to Facebook, play a couple of card games or blow up a few people. Voila’, it’s time for lunch, dinner or a snack and before you know it, you have burned through a whole day and accomplished nothing.

People tell me all of the time to “slow down,” and “you work too hard.”  Or people ask me, “When are you going to retire?” and “Don’t you ever sleep?” I find this annoying and quite frankly I don’t understand why some people try to stop my momentum or “snowball effect.” When you start with a fistful of snow and make a snowball, then roll the snowball until it gets bigger and bigger, you are building momentum. If I stop working (swimming), writing, taking my dance lessons or knitting, which I rarely do unless I am on vacation, my snowball will melt. It is very hard to “pick up speed again” and much easier to fall into my own avoidance behavior traps.  For example, when I am avoiding working on my Great American Novel (Wait until you read this!!  Coming Soon!), I will spend hours cutting things out of magazines for future unknown art projects. 

I would like to share with you some pearls of wisdom from a psychologist (No, he is not my shrink!). “If you want to change the direction of a waterfall all you have to do is move one rock. The flow and direction of the waterfall is forever changed.”  Okay, it’s a cornball metaphor but it’s true. If you want to change your life or your habits, you must be willing to move that first rock and take the first step – your willingness to change your mind.  When I fall into my avoidance behavior, I read this powerful quote.

Start by making a snowball. Tackle those closets, get yourself on the paddleboard or snowboard, or show up for that first guitar or piano lesson. Take a tiny step towards your goal. Stick with it and the momentum will build. You will soon realize the benefits and satisfaction of putting away your iPad for the day. Start with one small rock.