Take More Action. Consume Less. 

June 15, 2016

One of my favourite ways to spend time is to read and watch things. Unusual right?

Not so unusual in the grand scheme of things, given the power that culture and information has on us. Heck, a lot of it is even purposely designed now to catch and hold our attention like never before. You only need to look at the growing job demand for attention engineers and growth hackers to see just how valuable capturing our time and attention is.

The problem, in my case, is that it’s never been that difficult to get me. I’ve always been addicted to information. And could happily spend entire days just trawling through questions and answers in places like Quora and YouTube.

My addiction is so grave that it’s lead me to track my media consumption. Lead me to quit Facebook and Twitter. Lead me to shut out the world for days at a time.

All because I find it incredibly hard to discipline myself. To say enough is enough. To stop with the constant analysis. The constant search for answers that will never manifest.

It’s because of this I’ve come full-circle in my attitudes to reading.

There one was a time when, like author Ryan Holiday, I advocated reading as much as humanly possible. And although I’d strongly advocate reading above any form of information consumption, I’ve tried to relax that attitude. Not set myself the task of reading so many books.

The reason is because of extremity and because of my tendency to take things to the highest place of action.

And because reading and reading and reading only feeds my habit of over-analysing. Only makes me more confused. Obfuscates any gut feeling I might be experiencing urging me to go in one direction or another.

So it’s important that I stop. That I reign in this lifelong habit of pouring as much information as I possible can into my over-saturated brain.

Because, obviously, too much consumption is damaging. And, I’d argue, that its rewards decrease marginally in the long-run.

Recently I’ve found myself back in the hustle again. Investing a lot of time in thinking about what I should be doing with my life and what kind of direction I want it to move in.

At the bottom of everything, clearly I know it’s all ok. That I’ll never starve. That I’ll always have some kind of option.

I also remember Seneca. And the camino. And vipasanna. And how I know I’m okay when everything is reduced from my life and stripped bare. That even when having nothing, no material comfort, I can still thrive, safe in the knowledge that there are always prospects one can follow to help them get out of a particular bind.

But then there’s also time wasting and over-indulgence. Ignorance. Denial.

When one overly consumes, one begins to see that.

Each time I’ve started to create in my life, to actively create, good things have happened.

It’s just like what Sean Ogle says in this post when he suggests that each time he writes, each time his business gets better.

The same happens for me.

I started my language project blog and was diligent about it. Things happened for me and momentum took me to places I never thought I could go. I cleared all my student debt. I travelled all over the world again. I learned a whole host of new skills related to marketing and writing and sales.

And it all stemmed from commitment and execution to that one idea.

And the inevitable creation that went with it.

If anyone asked me now what they think they should do to make certain things happen in their life, I’d still resort back to my number one favourite tactic.

It’s something entrepreneur Penelope Trunk advocates, as well most of my friends online.

And it’s quite simply; start a blog and talk about that goal.

Commit to reducing your level of consumption of information and to raise your level of experimentation and creation.

Talking publicly about your processes and strategies and hopes and experiences also has one huge added benefit that makes it immensely self-satisfying. It helps other people too.

And, as long as they keep in mind the importance of action over consumption, creation over analysis, they too stand to benefit.

Thus goes the mantra: shut up and ship.

This is what I have to keep in mind at all times.

When I see myself at night, two hours into a Quora question and answer reading binge.

When I see myself at midday, crawling over YouTube instructional videos or listening to people recount their own experiences in things I too would like to try.

When I see myself in the morning, rising from my bed and reaching for my phone, hungry to know if I’ve missed out on anything.

All these habits are designed to take you further from your desired destination.

If our dedication to action and creation was even half that of our dedication to consumption we’d all be movers and shakers.

And that’s what separates the successful from the average.

They silence themselves and simply do.

They spend little time in analysis and take action from the base of commitment.

Extra: The main theme of this post is simply to prioritise creation over consumption, action over analysis. A blog, just as Dan Andrews points out, shouldn’t always be your first platform for creation. It depends on what you want to be and what you want to create. For designers, writers and marketers however, I still think it’s the best way forward.