The Enemy of Fulfillment

The enemy of fulfillment is….

Instant gratification…

that comes to us primarily through….

I hate to say it,

but it’s true….

don’t write me off for this….

our phones.

Americans spend an average of 2 hours and 54 minutes on their phones each day.

Which totals 44 days spend on our phones in a year.

31% of Americans report going online “almost constantly”

(Restore My Soul, p. 171)

For most of us, the way we relate to our phones is the place of highest leverage when it comes to making changes that lead to more fulfillment. The instant gratification that our brains receive from picking up our phones leaves almost all of us in some way addicted to that momentary pleasure. And, if we’re honest, most of us can see that the way we use our phones can lead to:

  1. Interrupted work–decreasing our sense of productivity
  2. Unintentional time spent on click bait–leading to disappointment that we didn’t spend that time on whatever it was we intended
  3. Anxiety–as we compare our reality to someone else’s posted perfection (or carefully crafted imperfection)
  4. Rhythm replacement–we’ve substituted phone use where we once did something else that we enjoyed; prayer, exercise, reading, calling our parents or a friend…


Well, guess what, my friends?

Number’s 1 – 4 impact >>> sense of fulfillment

sense of fulfillment impacts >>> mental health/overall well-being

All of us do well to revisit our phone usage from time to time. Without periodically challenging myself, I can easily creep up to 70 phone pick-ups per day! That represents 70 interruptions, 70 jolts to my brain, 70 times I might have done something more fulfilling.

  1. Give yourself a phone pick-up challenge. There is this horrifying place on your phone where you can see the number of pick-ups per day. Challenge yourself to cut that number in half. Notice and learn when you tend to grab for your phone. What is the consequence? What do you learn by NOT grabbing it?
  2. Set your phone to grayscale. A friend alerted me to this and it has an AMAZING impact on the allure of the phone. You’ll have to google how to set it up, but it is well worth it to see how all the colors keep you pulled in.
  3. Give your phone a toddler’s sleep hours: put your phone to bed at 7 or 8, wake it up 12 hours later, give it two good naps per day. Forcing yourself to live without your phone in rhythms like this will press you out of automatic interruptions and time sucks and into periods of focused work (which feel great) and other (hopefully) fulfilling activities like human connection, reading, and creating.


The goal is to have the “rich and satisfying life/life to the full” that Jesus wants for us all (John 10:10)!

I have two full chapters on fulfillment in my book: Restore My Soul: Reimagining Self-Care for a Sustainable Life …and trust me, fulfillment matters for life-sustaining self-care!

2 Responses

  1. Janice:
    Thank you for calling it as you see it! Very convicting and wise counsel to all of us – especially as I enter active retirement age
    and there is greater value in finding fulfillment in remaining years. I will attempt those three steps you have offered.

    Dr. Sam

  2. Your three ideas for phone awareness and remediation are fantastic! Thank you for taking the time to share these golden nuggets in each email.

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