Our fearless leader at Digital Harvest, Avram Gonzales, is getting closer to being done with his 30-Day Mindset Detox Challenge. To learn what the challenge is all about, check out our previous blog post. I had the chance to check in with Avram and see how it was going about halfway through the detox.
Below, you’ll find our discussion and learn how Avram has cheated (gasp!), what’s been easy, what’s been hard, and what’ he’s learned so far. Plus, Avram shares lots of practical insight for those intending to embark on their own 30-Day Mindset Detox Challenge.
Halfway Check-In Conversation with Avram and Lauren
Lauren: Okay. Well, Avram, I’m really excited to talk to you about your 30-day detox. I know you’re about halfway through, 17 days—I counted. Are you counting?
Avram: I am counting. Not counting down, but counting.
Lauren: Okay. How’s everything going so far?
Avram: Good. Very good. I hesitate and I pause because it’s been hard, certain parts about it. I will be the first to admit that we’ve slipped in some places. I think that the Mindset Detox is something that you really get what you put into it. And the last thing you should do is beat yourself up for maybe not doing everything perfectly. I know we’ll probably talk about some of the places that I’ve slipped, but the result of it has been really freeing. It’s exactly as I anticipated and found 10 years ago. The Mindset Detox is a reset for you to get clear on what it is that you actually want. I’m excited to share that because being in it for this long already, I’m already seeing so much of what I was hoping to get out of it in a short period of time.
Lauren: That’s awesome. I did wonder—how did you pick December of all the months? Is there any specific reason or just happened that way?
Avram: It just happened that way. My wife, Rachel, and I went away on our honeymoon in early November and had such a great time disconnecting from everything that it reminded me of this challenge, the Mindset Detox, that I had done in 2010. I had completely forgotten about it.
After spending so many months in quarantine and spending less time out, we were just watching a ton of TV and feeling really low, feeling lethargic, feeling unmotivated and also feeling disgusted with how much television we were watching. When you’re flipping through Netflix or Hulu and you’re scrounging for stuff to watch and you’re really settling, you’re settling so hard or that next show you’re like, “Do you want to watch this?” Internally your mind is going, “Not really, but what else do we have to do?”
I think the combination of those things is what brought everything together and we were coming in at the very end of November and knowing that was a 30-day detox, the decision to modify it from 2010 to update it and to get right into it was perfect. It was like, “December 2nd, let’s go.”
And we have a bottle of champagne in our fridge that we didn’t finish from our honeymoon. So we decided we’re going to crack that bottle on New Year’s. That’ll be our thing. Even though we don’t really drink, that’s something that was in the fridge, it was like, “Oh, cool. Yes, this will be the thing that we end with and celebrate.”
So really it was just that we became so tired of how we’re feeling and just knowing that something had to change. And knowing that, in order to change that, it would probably take something pretty drastic. So we’re balls-out type people and so when we do something, we go pretty hard and when we came up with the updated version of the detox I actually really scared myself. It was pretty intimidating.
And now, being in it, I’ve got to say, the first few days were really tough, but then we settled into a new normal and we’re getting these new habits and things that we’re excited about and feeling the benefit of. So that’s where we’re at.
Lauren: Love it. You’ve mentioned some slip-ups and one of my questions for you was which ones have been the hardest so far?
Avram: Again, the absolute hardest has been breaking the habit of TV, right? So we slipped on TV. We slipped on TV a little bit. We watched a couple of episodes of Shark Tank—that’s what we watched. So, we watched three episodes of Shark Tank and we realized that when we watch one thing we have something to look forward to. When it’s just all these things together, it just becomes something that fills the space. So TV is definitely the hardest one.
Some other places where we have fallen short simply because we’ve forgotten, have been the daily reading and personal development. So we went on a road trip recently and went and visited Scottsdale. And we forgot about it [reading personal development books] and we listened to just a fantasy novel in the car.
We realized the other day, “Oh, crap.” We listened to four hours of this book, but we didn’t listen to anything that really expanded our mind—our personal development in any way. So we slipped on that because we simply didn’t have something in place that was ready.
I think that’s one of my biggest tips to people who are going to start the Mindset Detox is get yourself ready and have the things prepared that you are going to need to fill the space because when you cut out so many of the things that are in the detox, you’re sitting there wondering like, “What do you do with yourself?” And if you don’t have something to do, you’re going to default right back to where you were.
Lauren: Of course. Just like a diet, right?
Lauren: Buy all the good foods or you’re just going to eat the cereal again, right?
Avram: Yeah, yeah. Or last night, I’m going to be honest. We got back from this trip, and we haven’t refreshed and refilled the fridge. So we had mac and cheese last night, which is fine. Everybody loves mac and cheese. But that was the default because there was nothing else that we had in the house. We’re like, “Okay, we’ll have mac and cheese.”
# 1 Self Reflection (10 Minutes Per Day)
Lauren: Well, I wanted to go one-by-one through the points and ask you specifically what you’ve been doing and what the challenges have been. I’m guessing that people who have maybe watched your Facebook Live video at the beginning, and even for myself, have some questions about how would I actually implement that? I think it would be really helpful for people to just hear how you’ve done it. With the self-reflection, we talked about it could be meditation, it could be journaling. What has that looked like for you so far?
Avram: For me? I haven’t ever been a big journaler. That’s something that I admire in other people that seems to come to them more easily. I think I get in my own head about it when I get in front of a journal and feel very like, “I don’t know what to do right now. What do I write?” There’s a lot of ways, a lot of tools, a lot of free resources out there that can help you establish and get going on a journaling habit.
I used to do quite a bit of meditation and my partner, Rachel, has pretty much never done meditation. And so I heard from a friend of mine a couple of years ago, he just was always recommending this app called Headspace. Headspace comes with a two-week free trial and I said, “All right, what if we do this before bed every single night as the last thing we do before bed. Settle the mind.” And the cool thing about the app is it’s got guided meditation. So if you’re new to meditation you don’t have to figure that out on your own and have the same awkward experience that I had with journaling. Headspace will just take you through it.
And so that’s been a really, really powerful exercise that we’ve been doing is just listening to one or two meditations through Headspace and finding that quiet space right before bed. I don’t know if it’s just the whole detox, in general, that’s creating this or if it’s the meditations and just finding this really, really relaxed state. I’ve been having some wack-a-doo dreams, just really, really strange stuff and I enjoy it. I miss dreaming and I’ve gotten a lot of that back. So weird side effect of the detox that I wasn’t expecting, having more dreams, but also just going to bed feeling more calm and I think getting more rest generally.
#2 Exercise & Movement (30 Minutes Per Day)
Lauren: Awesome. Okay, the next one is movement. I know you and Rachel like to walk your dog. And I know you told me you guys do some yoga together. What does your movement look like every day and have you had any specific insights while moving?
Avram: It’s difficult when it’s cold out. We walk the dog every single day. When we left New Mexico for a week and went to Arizona, we left the dog with my parents and so there were several nights where we realized, “Oh, my gosh. We didn’t do our movement today.” So the days that we’re not doing yoga we definitely make it an even bigger priority to get our walk in.
The walk is every day, but when the dog wasn’t there, she was our motivation. So we were finding ourselves taking walks at 9:00 at night around the resort that we were at and we were making loops four times around and we were waving at the same people every time like, “Hey!” And they’re like, “You’re back,” and we just did what we needed to do.
And I think as we’re talking about this, I think the most important part of all this has been having Rachel with me doing it. I think that actually might be one of the surest ways to make sure that you have a great detox is having somebody who is doing it with you, especially in your home right there with you. That accountability is great. There are some days that I didn’t want to go do it and she was like, “Hey, we got to go do it,” that’s a big tip.
Lauren: That’s awesome. I love that you guys can do that together.
#3 Associate with Empowering People
Lauren: Okay, associating with empowering people—I would imagine you have quite a few around you already, but did you have to make any changes there, anything significant?
Avram: I did not have to make significant changes in regards to that. The first Mindset Detox I did in 2010 I did. That was a more difficult one for me because I had, at the time, being fresh out of college I had a lot of my college buddies still in my circle and the things that we did and were engaged in, including the things that we talked about were not always positive and not always leaving you feeling filled up.
I would leave a lot of those conversations feeling pretty drained and the Mindset Detox allowed me to see how I felt and be more present with myself and feeling the difference between people that fill you up and people that you feel drained afterwards.
Lauren: Do you have any recommendations for people that might feel like this stuff is a big struggle?
Avram: I think when you dive into the self-reflection, the meditation, the movement, sometimes it really is doing everything that you can to remove yourself from the current environment that may not be working for you for as frequently and for as long of periods as possible. There are certain circumstances in your life that you simply can’t change and can’t change quickly and you have to do your best to create your own space. That’s really what the Mindset Detox is about.
And so, when you get your daily movement, that’s your chance to get out of the house and go for a walk and say, “Hey. I’m doing this thing.” And you get that sacred 30 minutes, 45 minutes to yourself, sometimes that’s the best that you can do, right? And that’s really where you have to start. But the holidays and doing it through the holidays, I know that some people would struggle because simply the family members that you have, you’re not going to just not go to Christmas dinner because your family’s there.
But what you might do is find ways to limit your exposure to certain family members. What if you just knew that Uncle Joe is not really the one that fills you up and so you spent time with your aunt over here on the couch while people are preparing things in the kitchen. And you just spend time with her. Do your best, that’s the best that you can do. You will feel the difference.
#4 Read a Personal Development Book (30 Minutes Per Day)
Lauren: Okay, we talked a little bit about the reading and personal development. You recommended audiobooks too, but what have you been reading specifically? Can you share with us?
Avram: Well, because I’m an entrepreneur and I’m a nerd, there are several books that I’ve read this month. One of them is called Infinite Giving by Ivan Misner. And so because I’m a big networker and because I’m always looking at ways that I can contribute to other people, that book really resonated with me. It was given to me as a gift last month and I hadn’t had the opportunity to read that yet, so that was one thing that we picked up right away.
Another one is, again, it’s an entrepreneurial-related book, it’s called Profit First. And so my wife and I, with the goals and the things that we want to do with this business and in our personal lives wanting to start a family together—we find it important to focus on what we can do to not just earn more money, but keep more money from the efforts that we have endeavored.
And so just having those books available has been helpful. Then the other thing is, I have a huge library on Audible of books. I have 70-something books on there and so whenever we haven’t had something to read it’s been pretty easy to plug something else in and listen for 15-20 minutes. Usually when we’re washing the dishes, I think that’s my biggest hack is when you’re driving and when you’re doing chores, like washing the dishes or folding laundry, that’s an amazing time to be able to do that.
I think also, if you have children, listening to the audio together, even if they’re bored out of their minds, it’s still sinking in and you can show and lead by example. If you think about the Mindset Detox and more than just what it can do for you. If you think about it in also what it can do for your family and your friends as a result of you moving through this transformation, it becomes a powerful motivating factor knowing that, like Gandhi said, “You really can be the change that you wish to see in the world.” To do that, I think, is a powerful thing.
#5 Disable Smart Phone Notifications
Lauren: Okay, smartphone notifications. This one gives me a little bit of anxiety because I think, “What if I miss an email or something?” How have you felt? Have you been reaching for your phone? Have you missed anything major? How’s it been going?
Avram: So, we’ll talk about this later, right? No social media. But we’ll get into that. That was the biggest thing was notifications from social media. I did actually turn notifications for social media off years ago, so I wasn’t missing that. But the thing that I found was, I did find myself reaching for my phone just to check social, and then it wasn’t there. It was like, “Holy crap.” The amount of times that I went to go pick up out of habit was mindblowing.
The notifications though, I’m notorious and you can ask my family, I don’t take my phone off of silent till almost noon some days. So people will be texting me and asking me things and I didn’t respond. But it’s been like this for years. I’ve never missed anything.
I had a phone call from a friend last week, I was on another call, he called me twice in a row. So if your phone is on silent, somebody calls you twice, the second one will go through. That’s a hack, lets your family know maybe. “If you really need me, you can call me twice.”
It’s sad, but he was calling me to inform me of the passing of one of our colleagues and I didn’t miss that. I was able to be there for that and I think that we think that we need to respond quickly to things, but in life a lot of things just do, actually, work themselves out on their own. You not being there immediately is not a big deal.
Me not having children, that’s different. It’s different. I recognize that that’s different and it’s going to be different for everybody, no matter where you are in your life. But I felt that’s worth mentioning as well. I don’t have that responsibility in my life right now. That would probably be the biggest thing I’d be concerned about if I did have all my notifications turned off. I will probably behave differently, but it will not change that I have my phone on silent during certain times and that I simply only have text messages and phone calls that come through. I don’t have email notifications. That one will kill you.
Then during hours, I have notifications to be able to communicate with our team and that’s also something that’s not really that invasive. It’s working hours, we’re doing the things.
Lauren: To add to that, I think most parents probably know that you can program certain phone numbers to ring through all the time or text messages. You were very clear on your initial Facebook Live, “Customize this to the way that works for you.” Some people have to be on demand for their job, but everyone can turn off Instagram and Facebook, for the most part.
Avram: What harm is there in silencing your phone 8:00 and later? Who really needs to reach you in the evening when you’re with your family? It can wait.
#6 Only Listen to Positive and Uplifting Music
Lauren: Positive and uplifting music—I just wanted to share this anecdotally because you knew me back in the day. I didn’t dress like an emo, but on the inside, I was an emo. I listened to such depressing music and I’m not like that so much anymore, but sometimes when I do go back and listen to my old faves, I’m like, “Oh, my gosh. This is putting me in such a bad headspace.” So I can definitely relate to how this might be a difficult one for some people. But have you had to make any changes or do you have any experience to share dealing with positive music?
Avram: My experience with positive music, and I can totally relate to what you’re sharing because my car is a Honda Element, right? I love this car because you can go camping in it. You can literally hose it out at the end of a camping trip and the one thing that’s unique about this vehicle is because it is so old, it only has a CD player. So I recently did take a trip down memory lane with all my old stuff and I had the exact experience.
That contrast was heavy. Seeing, feeling … I turned it off. There were certain things that I listened to back in the day that would get you pumped up and they’re exciting and you look up the lyrics and you’re like, “Actually, this was positive.”
But there was a ton of stuff that, like you said, just you feel the difference. For me, it’s funny. I’ll just say it, judge me. I listen to a lot of classical music when I’m working because I can’t listen to anything that has words in it.
Lauren: I’m the same way.
Avram: That really puts me at ease. I like how I feel when I’m doing it. I actually feel more productive, more light. The thing that you’ll find that’s a pretty stark contrast is if you don’t listen to radio and you go somewhere, into a shared lobby. I was getting my oil changed a couple of months ago and I remember how the TV was on and it was all this news stuff and advertisement and I felt anxious just being there and being with it.
I think the important thing in the Mindset Detox in regards to the positive and uplifting music is to give yourself the opportunity to experience other music and other input that you don’t normally have and be present with how it feels. Maybe that’s a new thing for people and I think it is for most folks at different levels, but the Mindset Detox will give you the opportunity to feel the difference.
Maybe it’s something that you never even asked yourself before, just asking the question of, “How do I feel right now?” And just do a five-second check-in with yourself and you will start to notice the difference. If that’s something that you normally wouldn’t pay attention to, you will feel the difference right away.
#7 No TV, Streaming, YouTube, or Social Media
Lauren: Okay, we already covered this because it rolled into a few of the other ones a little bit—but no TV, no streaming, social media. You shared that you have watched a couple of episodes of Shark Tank. But I did want to ask, how have you, other than that, been filling your evenings? It gets dark so early, you can’t really hang out with other people. I know New Mexico is really locked down. What have you been doing?
Avram: What we have been doing is a lot of board games, so we love playing board games. We even went and found some games that we didn’t have before at our local game shop. We picked up two or three board games that were new for us and so we’ve been doing that.
The other night, actually, played one of my favorite board games of all time, which is Settlers of Catan. I played it with my best friend growing up, Tim Sellers, and his future wife. They’re getting married next year. And we were able to play virtually so we set the computer up at the end of the table, we set up the exact same board and we were able to play together. So we’re going to do more of that.
The other thing that we are doing is because it became so apparent so quickly, this is my advice now for you going into this. That thing we talked about earlier with surrounding yourself with positive and empowering people, uplifting people? Start making plans now for the times that you know that the default would be TV.
I have a friend of mine and his wife, we’re going to be getting together. We wouldn’t normally do this, I think, outside of the current circumstances in the world, but we’re going to do a weekly dinner. We’ve already done one of them. They have four kids and we’ve committed to is just coming over there, eating with the family. We prepare a meal together, we eat as a family, the kids go to bed, and we play games.
And so, Monday and Tuesday night, what is going on? Nothing. Unless you create something. So we’ve become more intentional with choosing who we’re hanging out with, so that’s one of my big tips would just be put some stuff on the calendar with people that you know are going to fill you up right now, for the next month, and consider it an opportunity to do something that maybe you wouldn’t normally do. Because you’re going to feel it if you don’t plan for things in advance. You’re going to feel the pressure to dive into old habits and so that’s just what we’ve done.
Lauren: And I love that you said you probably wouldn’t have arranged those weekly dinners if it weren’t for this and maybe if it weren’t for the isolation that COVID creates. And the dinners actually may be better, way better, than what you would have done on any given Monday or Tuesday night, but you didn’t think to do it until now. That’s really cool.
Avram: That’s correct, yeah. We’ve found that, “Holy cow. We have been missing out on connection.” With the passing of this friend the other day, it made us really think. We had plans to get together and play games with her. Those plans never became reality because it was always something that, “We’ll do it,” but we never did it.
#8 No News, No Media
Lauren: No news, no media. How has that felt? Any sighs or relief or do you feel like you’re missing out?
Avram: What I will say is I haven’t been tuned into the news for a long time. Since the first Mindset Detox in 2010 I just haven’t listened to the news. I don’t have traditional TV. I don’t listen to the radio, but where the news always shows up is on social media. And then it is in conversation with friends and family. And so, it has been difficult and impossible to avoid in some cases because you do want to be sensitive to how other people are feeling. At the end of the day, what about you? What about being sensitive to how you feel when you’re immersed in that environment? Are you really treating you with total kindness when you think about where we put ourselves in the conversations that we choose to engage in?
For me, the last even eight months, ten months, of this year have been really been about conversational ninjutsu, which is literally saying to people, “Is it okay if we change the subject? Would it be okay with you if we talked about something different? I understand you feel very strongly and passionately about this, but I want to connect with you.”
Lauren: How do people respond when you say that?
Avram: Most people are eager to change the subject. They don’t want to be talking about this, but it’s the thing that’s occupying their mind, which is why they’re sharing it all the time. So it’s easy to actually ask somebody a question about themselves, and what they’re up to, and what they’re doing. People love to talk, and so they just want somebody to ask them a question.
Really, that’s where we take ownership in our lives in how we navigate the world is that we are just as much responsible for the conversation as the other person across the table from us because we are participating, whether we think that we are or not. And so, for me it’s been a stark contrast when I am around friends and family and business partners and things like that, with the news. Because now that’s really the primary place that I hear it and I think just what I shared earlier is my best advice.
You have to shift the conversation in order to get it away from the news because you’ll notice, when you cut news out as scary as it is, again—we’re talking a lot about how you feel during this interview—when you cut it out and then you find yourself in a conversation that is about it, you will feel the frustration, the anger sometimes, the irritability around all of this information that’s being shared with you. Sometimes you just want to scream and say like, “Enough!” Especially when you’re doing this Mindset Detox.
That’s a huge gift, is coming to that awareness of what the actual effect is in your life. You’re given the opportunity after this Mindset Detox to choose what you want to add back in and keep back in your life, but you need to experience life without this in order to decide what’s really important to you.
For me, I’d rather be happy than to be right and that’s something that I learned from one of these books behind me, Secrets of Millionaire Mind, something T. Harv Eker said was, “You can be right or you can be happy.”
I am so happy to allow people to have their points of view and perspective and have mind, and not have to feel like I need to explain it or justify it to anybody so that I can be happy. It’s just not worth going to battle with people conversationally, day in, day out in a world that seems to be very divided on how they feel about this.
#9 No Alcohol, No Drugs
Lauren: Okay—no alcohol and no drugs, pretty simple. But for me, as a mom of two, I’m telling you, many days I am like, “I need that glass of wine. 5:00 PM it’s happening.” So for me, it’s a big deal to give up alcohol for 30 days. And I know for so many people it’s the biggest and easiest way to just unwind at the end of the day. So what have you been doing? I know you’ve shared the meditation helps, but what do you do to unwind, and do you have any recommendations for people that might struggle with this one? It sounds like you guys already don’t drink very much, so it’s not as big of a deal for you.
Avram: But it’s noticeable because well, first of all, I don’t want to make my family sound like a bunch of alcoholics, okay? That’s not it. But, for example, we went over and we helped set up the Christmas tree at my parents. That took a whole afternoon and we had Christmas music on and stuff the whole time. It was so interesting to think about how many times I was thinking about going and grabbing something out of the fridge.
For me, the power in that was just being aware of the fact that I reach. And having the time to do some self-reflection on why I reach. Discovering that there are certain things that I want to avoid by reaching.
And I know people have heard this before, but then you experience it and you’re like, “Oh, it makes more sense and doesn’t sound so cliché,” but really when people say they want to “take the edge off of things,” it’s very true in actually what we are doing when we use alcohol and other substances. We’re trying to take the edge off of things.
What that means is that we are simply not comfortable with the intensity of life. Okay? So, what you have to recognize about the intensity of life is that it’s actually not a good thing or a bad thing, but I think we are taught, maybe even as early as being a child, that when you get so excited about something your parent might say, “Hey, it’s okay, sweetie. Calm down.”
A way that a child may take that is, “My intensity is too much.” So I think that we grow up that translates to various situations believing that the intensity is too much and that it should be reduced. But if you think about the people that you most love to spend time with or watch on television, you’re attracted to them because of their intensity, in some cases because of their outrageousness, their willingness to be totally them in themselves. That is a gravitational pull, I think, that every human being experiences.
And so, when we choose to limit the intensity that we’re willing to be, we’re actually choosing, in some ways, to limit who we can be. That’s a scary prospect. Your subconscious is aware of what it is that you can be and what that intensity is. And so we then just automatically shy away from it without thinking.
The Mindset Detox allows you to take a step back and look at and examine the reasons why you might be checking out and using substances. Again, like I said a bit earlier, it’s not about cutting alcohol out. You add these thing out, but add these things back as you would like to, versus because you just have always done it.
And so for me, it’s been understanding how those things have been coping mechanisms and looking at what is the intensity that I am wanting to avoid? For me, it’s discovering that there’s actually quite a bit of self-sabotage in trying to keep myself small, more contained, and more under control because, in some ways, worried, I guess, about what I might be if I were less controlled, if I were fully in my expression.
Look, you can be intensely sad about things, but you can also intensely joyful about things. Again, it’s not good, bad, right or wrong, but it is the intensity of life, I think, that we shy away from because we almost aren’t sure if we can handle it.
But I think you’ll discover that you can and that there are other ways to deal with it and be with it and accept it. That’s a really cool journey that everybody gets to explore at their own pace.
Lauren: Well, and even just as you were talking, I was thinking about how I really have chosen intensity in some areas of my life and really search it out. I love physical challenges. I had two natural childbirths because I’m like, “I want that experience.” But then when it comes to, “My family is stressing me out,” then I don’t want that intensity. So I think that’s a really beautiful way that you put it because the intensity is not bad. It just is. We can choose to be in that moment and have it be okay.
Avram: Cool insight, Lauren. That’s a good share. Thank you for that.
#10 Spend One Day in Total Silence
Lauren: Okay. The very last one, this full day of silence. Do you have it on your calendar? Do you have a plan what you’re going to do that day? Do you know what you’re expecting to get from it?
Avram: I’m glad this interview’s happening because I haven’t planned it yet and that’s a big boo-boo. I know with the demands of work and my role in this company, it does require me to speak and communicate with others. And so we, Rachel and I, my wife, we’re planning on a weekend day because that’s the easiest to control. If we’re just here with each other and not having to go out and do things, that will be a very simple task.
The biggest thing that I learned when I did my day of silence 10 years ago was just how much I try to fill the space by talking. We just talked about alcohol and drugs being something that numbs and takes the edge off of things. I think sometimes we also use words and language to fill space of uncomfortability. That was my biggest insight was realizing just how much I was uncomfortable with periods of not talking.
You think about it, and we talked about the intensity of life, there’s also intense uncomfortability. Straight up. It’s not an emotion, but we feel it deeply and so what we do is we attempt to fill the space so that we feel more comfortable. But when you fill the space with just whatever, whatever’s coming to your mind, you’re desperately struggling to maybe make the other person feel more at ease in addition to yourself by filling the space.
What you discover is that when you do fill the space, there’s an opportunity cost to that. An opportunity cost meaning that because we chose to fill it with this, there’s something else that maybe would have wanted to be here that isn’t here. And that other thing that didn’t get the chance to show up was something that could have been borne of greater intention.
That’s one of my biggest takeaways from the Mindset Detox in general is intention and seeing how many things that I do automatically, on a daily basis, without event thinking about it, without reflecting on it, without checking in, seeing what it’s really doing or not doing for me.
And so the day of silence is intensely uncomfortable, especially for folks who do like to talk. I think it’s even uncomfortable for people who don’t really like to talk because then you realize, perhaps, there are other things that you might like to mention and speak up about that maybe you wouldn’t normally because on the other side of the uncomfortability, you would rather be quiet than to say something that may actually bring you more ease, more joy and something different.
Lauren: Can you just clarify one more thing for me because I feel like if I were to do this day of silence I would just go for a really long hike and download a bunch of podcasts. But then my head would still be filled with everything that I’m hearing. So is it just no speaking or not listening to stuff also? Or would you leave that up to the person doing it?
Avram: I leave that up to the person. That’s a great question because I hadn’t even considered that. For me, it was powerful enough to not be speaking. The day that I did it 10 years ago, a couple of things were going on. I did not have a convenient time to do it, so I’ll say that. I did not have a convenient time to do it. I had work. I had graduate school and I had to create a video, because 10 years ago I was creating a video every single day talking about something new that I’d never done before.
How do you do a video when you can’t talk? So I had three major challenges that day. I went to work. I made a sign. I was working at the family dry cleaner at the time. I made a sign that said, “I’m not talking today, but I can definitely take your order, just let me know what you want me to do.”
And most of the customers were regulars and they thought that as cute and cool, and so I would just point at the sign, they’d be like, “Oh, cool. I’ve got this and this today,” and I would put it into the machine and I would turn the register thing around and say, “Here’s your total, boom,” and we did it. No issues, right?
It was a cool thing because they’re like, “That’s neat.” Maybe it made them think about something different, I don’t know. When I went to school I was frustrated that day because that was the day that either it was the current CEO or the past CEO of Levis was there at my business school doing a small keynote with 70 students in the room. There was a huge chunk that was Q&A. I had one or two questions that I really wanted to ask.
It didn’t feel right to me that I would scribble something out and communicate that way and have somebody ask it for me. It felt like, “Well, that’s not really my day of silence.” So what I had to do was settle into not being in control. It’s a hard line, I think, for most people, to be okay with everybody else asking the questions and deriving what I needed to get out of that day just by being present and listening.
When I went to Chipotle I did bring a sign. I said, “Here’s my order. Not talking today, but …” So there are certain things, I think, that you just have to do, but I was prepared for those things. When I went home and recorded the video about my day of silence, I did it with pictures and with signs. That was how I resolved those things and those are the major moments of uncomfortability and learning that I got through my day of silence. I imagine it will be very different for others.
You will not necessarily have a convenient day, but hopefully with some of these tips you will find a way to make it work and make it possible. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you get out what you put into it.
To Sum It All Up…
Lauren: That wraps up all of my questions, but I’m really excited to chat with you when you’re all done to see if you have even further insights. Do you have anything else that you wanted to share about your experience so far?
Avram: I think that we really covered it with each of the questions. I would just go back and reemphasize how we started, which is you don’t have to approach this as something that you have to do perfectly, but you have to recognize that what you get out of it is what you put into it. Will you come in more prepared so that you are set up to succeed? Are you going to prepare the books for you to read? Are you going to prepare the dinners with friends that will lift you up? Are you going to prepare a playlist on Spotify or YouTube that has different music for you?
Those are the things that are going to set you up to do this really well versus setting you up to fail by reaching for that thing or that activity that you just are already doing automatically. The point is, with the 30-Day Mindset Detox, is to discover who you truly are. You cannot discover who you truly are until you take away the things that you have added on over time.
Maybe it started with intention, but now it’s automatic. We’re human beings. We change. We evolve. What we need, what we desire, what we dream to have changes and evolves. I think this is an opportunity for everybody to get really, really clear and maybe even discover that you don’t know what you want.
That can be a very big thing to discover during this time and it’s a beautiful thing. Revel in the intensity of that uncomfortability. You will discover that it is okay. You are going to be okay and you are strong, and you are powerful enough to make it a month without TV, and without news, and without social media.
It will still be there when you get back and what you will find on the other side—I already know this because I did it 10 years ago—when you come back into the real world it’s going to be like, “Boom,” and you’re going to feel this stark contrast and that, alone, will be a catalyst for you to choose and decide with intention, “What do I really want to include in my life moving forward?”
What do I want in my life moving forward? I want more connection. I want more intention. I cannot believe the stuff that I filled up my space with and my time with that were just automatic. I’m stoked to change that up and I have more energy now for other things. It’s interesting, my energy has risen over time with this because I’m allowing other things to show up in the place of all the other stuff I’ve been using to fill this space.