My life has changed dramatically over the past few months. Look back even just three months and this is what you would have seen: a girl who had no drive, no passion; a girl who spent as much time in bed as possible; a girl whose daily schedule was get up, go to work, come home, eat, go to bed, and pray for the weekends; a girl who (and no, I’m not joking) watched, on average, 5+ hours of Netflix a day. That last one might be a little shocking to some but it gets worse: I’ve watched that much Netflix almost every day for the past 4 years. I started watching Netflix my freshman year of college when I fell into a severe depressive state following a family tragedy and I used tv shows to escape the reality I was facing.
During the last few years, I have watched 8 seasons of Desperate Housewives, 16 seasons of House, MD, 24 seasons of Scrubs, 30 seasons of Futurama, 9 seasons of Bones, 12 seasons of Law and Order: SVU, 8 seasons of NCIS, 47 seasons of Star Trek, 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls, 12 seasons of White Collar, 5 seasons of Merlin, 12 seasons of Lost, 8 seasons of Dexter, 6 seasons of Lie To Me, 4 seasons of Parenthood, 6 seasons of Dollhouse, 14 seasons of Doctor Who, 8 seasons of Monk, and those are only the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
The ones listed above? The shows that I remember watching and watched enough of to make sense for a list? They equal 4400 episodes.
That’s 176,667 minutes.
Or 2944 hours.
And that’s 122 straight days of television.
I knew I had a problem but writing that out… Wow. As I added the minutes together, I felt sick to my stomach. And that calculation doesn’t include any movies or any seasons and episodes I watched outside those shows.
Just with those hours, I could have read through the Bible 67 times, the Harry Potter series 49 times, or War and Peace 90 times. It means that if I had picked a new skill to learn and worked on that skills for 2 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, I would have 4 years of experience. It means that if I had walked at a brisk pace (about a 15 minute mile), I would have walked 196 miles. But instead I spent most of that time laying in bed or lounging on a couch, maybe doing some menial task like putting on makeup or eating.
The scary part is that when I told people that I was addicted to Netflix, they would laugh. Most people couldn’t see the hold it had on my life. Well, I’m here to tell you that Netflix is an escape from life that can take over just like alcohol, gambling, or other addiction.
But I’m also here to tell you that you can take control again.
Two months ago, when I started working with a local couple on leadership and business skills in order to build a foundation for financial freedom, Tiffany McNaught sat across from me and asked point blank: “What’s your drug? What’s getting in the way of creating success for yourself?” and I didn’t even hesitate. I knew it was Netflix. But during the next half hour and then the next few days, I did my best to ignore the tug on my soul. I knew there was something greater for me than my current day to day life but I also knew, without a shadow of a doubt, my addiction to “escaping” into fictional characters lives was dragging me down like quicksand.
On September 21st, I cancelled my Netflix account. And I am proud to say I am free. During the first two days, turning on a show was all I could think about. I’m not exaggerating when I say my brain would whisper things like just watch one episode… it’s just 45 minutes. Look, they just added another season of Bones. Would one season be so bad? It almost sounds like a joke but that’s how tight the rope was around my neck. But let me say it again: I am free.
I have freed up hours each day to read or listen to leadership authors such as John Maxwell and Robert Kiyosaki. I have freed up the emotional energy to connect to those around me instead of those in my tablet screen. I have freed up an additional eight dollars a month to build my dreams instead of somebody else’s.
With this victory on my heart today, I want to ask you: what’s your drug?