It didn’t matter who asked it, me or her, the answer was always predictably the same, “yes”. We’d make our way to the couch and turn on the television. After we sat down and started navigating to our show of choice, we’d generally start talking about something from the day, the kids, my work, something funny, or sad. And then, as if scrolling through the options was inflicting physical pain, we’d interrupt our own conversation with, “what do you want to watch?” We’d quickly get to the business of making a selection and then starting the show. We’d be content. After all, things are good with so many great shows at our fingertips. If one of us had to get something to eat (which is so often the companion to Netflix) we’d hit pause, because that’s the respectable thing to do. Scooping a massive bowl of ice cream takes some time so again, we’d start a conversation sometimes picking up the same topic we had previously been talking about until the other would return and we could resume watching.
Other times one of us (usually whoever is less into the show) will start a conversation mid-viewing…of course, this is totally unacceptable but sometimes you just remember something that might be of equal to or greater than importance than the current binge session. Now, everyone knows this is incredibly rare and most tenured flixters know it’s borderline impossible and maybe just a myth. But when one thinks they’ve found the four leaf clover of discussion topics and bravely interrupts a binge sesh, they’re usually the last to realize they’ve made a huge mistake. The realization finally arrives as one notices the thumb of their slightly annoyed viewing partner, hovering over, or agonizingly tracing the outline of the play button. It’s as if everyone else in the room has already counted your clover and determined, like all clovers, there are three leaves…. and now we’d like to get back to bingeing. Most often the offender sheepishly apologizes or trails off until it’s clear we’re ready to resume watching.
Then those episodes fall, like a long row of perfectly organized dominoes, one right after the other. Until way too late for people who plan on being coherent in the morning. So finally we’d shut it down, about the point we KNOW FOR SURE we’ve watched too much. Keep in mind, this is different than thinking we MIGHT have watched too much. That’s rookie territory. We’d make our way to our room and start getting ready for bed. It’s then, that that pesky conversation topic would continue trying to be heard. We’d either talk too late or fall asleep trying to talk. Either way, the conversation was rushed, fragmented and incomplete. We’d wake the next morning with a binge hangover only a true flixter would understand.
How Bad Can It be?
Now don’t get me wrong, we’re not the type that throws everything to the wind to get our flix in. We’d be considered “high functioning” flixters.
My wife is a (Rockstar) stay at home Mom. She juggles three kids, a high energy, hyper-curious five-year-old girl, a spunky, three-year-old girl who most days refuses to wear pants and can cross a single eye (we call it crazy eyes) on command. And a newly mobile 7-month-old who acts like he has a shock collar that zaps him every time any human leaves his three-foot radius. But she doesn’t take the low road, she’s committed to keeping them on a schedule, engaged in productive developmental activities and, perhaps ironically, off of technology almost entirely. She keeps a tidy house and sticks to a consistent workout regimen. She keeps ou
I try to keep up with her. I have a full-time job, a new leadership development business and several “side gigs” that all jockey for my time and attention. I too, take the time to exercise and even participate in endurance sports that require year-round training. And occasionally, I like to wrestle with my kids, read them books, eat them like a zombie or put on my best “Prince Eric” and “Mickey Mouse” performance while playing pretend. On top of all this, Both my wife and I are active in our church and hold responsibilities that require several hours throughout the week to maintain.
Breaking The Cycle
I don’t need to convince you that there is a growing addiction to food and technology. What is less visible, though, is how these habits are damaging our ability to work, the impact on self-confidence and the many ways they can deteriorate relationships. While my wife and I love each other very much and we work well together, we recognized that we weren’t having deep conversations as often as we’d like. You know, the kind that will strengthen the relationship, generate fun personal jokes and help us learn to better understand each other and strategize for our family. We were trying to fit them into elusively rare open spaces for an already busy family of 5. The quality of our conversations diminished as our Netflix habit built momentum. We knew that these habits, along with others, would become more deeply ingrained over time. If we didn’t take care of them now, we knew they would impact our ability to accomplish our vision for our family and could possibly even push us apart. Ultimately we’d be setting our auto-pilot on a crash course. We would be slaves to our habits.
So far, we’ve spent more time outside with the kids, talked more, laughed more and played more games. We’re not eating hardly anything after dinner or before bed and we’re getting to bed earlier and getting more sleep which makes for a better start to the day. You might be wondering if we’ll turn our television on or fire up Netflix again, and the answer is most definitely, yes. But you can be sure that anytime we feel we are building habits that keep us from what is most important, we’ll hit the reset button without flinching, Netflix and all.
Greer Method Complete Coaching provides one on one coaching for executives and business owners. Through expert coaches, habit locking technology, and proven processes we help leaders create, manage, and sustain personal and professional performance. Jared J. Greer is the founder of Greer Method Complete Coaching. He is an executive coach, 6-time Ironman finisher, marathoner, ultra-marathoner, husband, and father of four.