Consuming content - learning new things - is valuable, but to achieve our goals and make a life that matters, we have to do something with what we learn.
Balancing consumption with creation and contribution
I love learning new things. I've always been one to spend a lot of time reading, watching, listening to resources that provide new information.
But I’m also aware that the pursuit of new knowledge and information can be a procrastination technique (conscious or not) to avoid taking action that feels overwhelming or scary to me.
I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve had conversations with others who do the same, and I’ve seen discussions of this in The Productive Woman Facebook community,
so I thought it was time to talk about this topic.
Consuming information is important. We always should be learning and growing, and there's so much great information out there, but it also needs to be balanced by creation and contribution.
What do I mean by consumption?
I'm talking about reading, watching, listening, attending . . . in other words, taking in information and ideas. Consumption of information and content is valuable and important because it helps us learn and grow, improve our skills, and expand our viewpoint and perspective.
There are lots of resources from which we can consume information, ideas, and direction for things we want to learn about or get better at, including books, journals, blogs, YouTube videos, conferences, podcasts, coaching, and webinars.
As important as it is, we must consume wisely and not allow it to take the place of more important things.
One risk of consuming information in the 21st century is we may always be consuming, but never doing anything with it. There is so much good information out there that we could spend all our time taking in that information. But if we don't do anything with it, we run the risk of fooling ourselves into thinking we’re making progress toward our goals because we’re always studying, researching, gathering information. Remember that consuming information is not accomplishing the goal itself, but rather getting ready to accomplish the goal.
Another risk of consumption is that we can succumb to unthinking consumption to fill a void in our life and avoid thinking about what’s driving the restless need to consume. If we are spending most of our time taking in information, we might only be consuming all day every day filling up the space around us with noise. Even the best types of information that inspires and motivates us, and gives us lots of ideas, isn't a substitute for taking action.
I don't mean to trivialize the value of these resources. They all have their place, and they all provide something for us. But why are we filling up that void? Why do we feel that drive to get more information and allow consumption to become a default for us? Why do we spend time consuming rather than taking action that would make us more productive?
“Marketers do a great job convincing us we need more: they establish a void so we will try to fill it. This is no secret; in fact, we take it for granted now: amongst the bombardment, we realize what advertisers are doing, yet we still give them carte blanche with our attention—we let them into our homes, onto our screens, and into our personal lives via Facebook and other outlets—and when we do, the void grows deeper.
For most of us, however, the void has nothing to do with a need to consume more; in fact, the opposite is true: when we consume too much, we experience stress, anxiety, and depression, effectively deepening the void. Our possessions possess us. They weigh us down mentally, physically,