One Saturday evening in July, I noticed lots of folks on Facebook updating their statuses to say that they wouldn’t be online for a week. Eventually, it was clear that this was the result of a sermon by our pastor. On the way to church the next morning, I remember lamenting to my husband that I wasn’t looking forward to this message. For the most part, I didn’t feel like social media was a time drain for me, and I often use it for business or specific relationship-building.

We went anyway, and the message wasn’t what I expected. In essence, Pastor Bil asked if we thought we were living up to God’s purpose for our lives, and if not, what was distracting us or keeping us artificially busy.  I decided to be more mindful about my time and start tracking it again (an old CPA habit). I also decided to stop watching television for the week. I didn’t think I watched it much, so I wasn’t expecting much change in that area.

Boy, was I wrong. I remember getting home from church and immediately feeling a void. I realized that I normally came straight home and turned on the television.

Whoops. Maybe I was in for some change.

In that first week, I had lots of awkward moments. I remember thinking, “What do I do now?” Thankfully, I quickly found answers. We started walking the dog in the evenings as a family. We started eating dinner together. I read two books. I slept almost exactly 8 hours every night. And I nearly finished an online course that I’d paid dearly for months earlier and never started.

So, I decided to go for week two. Then three, then a month. I think I’m about at the three month mark now, and I can say that I don’t watch television at all. I don’t miss it anymore, even if someone else in the house is watching. (I’d remove them from the house if my husband wouldn’t revolt over Ole Miss football.) I really don’t even think about it unless someone asks if I’m up on the latest drama.

Looking back, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made – ever. As in top 5, maybe even top 3.

It literally changed my life, and I’m confident it’ll change yours too. Here how:

  1. You’ll have time for anything you want to do. Exercise, cooking, reading, whatever. There’s plenty of time to do it now. I started reading the chronological plan of the Bible in November 2009. I finished the last half in about 60 days after making this change. I started training for endurance runs again. Rex and I have made most of the dishes in Everyday Paleo together.
  2. You’ll be happier because you’ll see less advertising and “reality” to compare yourself to. This is huge. And probably means you’ll save more than the cost of cable.
  3. You’ll start getting enough sleep. You’ll lose weight, get more done, and generally be less cranky. Magic.
  4. You’ll have less family drama and more sex. It’s amazing what happens when you actually talk to each other instead of letting television noise drown out the conversation.
  5. Your kids will (mostly) stop watching it too. They really do what we do, not what we say. It takes a few weeks, and then it just happens. You actually can have a relationship with your teenager.

Aside from being weird, there’s no reason not to. Hulu and Netflix are standing by with your favorite shows if you change your mind at the end of the week. You won’t miss a thing.

Try it. Commit to one week without television. Unplug it. Remove it from your bedroom. Post a note on the screen. Do whatever you need to do to remind yourself not to watch.

Now think about what you’ve always wanted to do. There’s something that comes to mind immediately. It always comes after, “Someday I’ll . . .”

When you come across those moments where you itch to turn on the television, follow your dreams instead. It may feel like learning to ride a bicycle again, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly. Evaluate it at the end of the week. You’ll be alive with the energy of following your dreams. You won’t ever want to go back. You really can change your life in one step.