The Consumption Trap

Are you the type of person who is reading multiple books at the same time? Are you the one who is constantly signing up for new programs and training because you are convinced you just need a bit more training or you need to learn just one more thing? As a recovering content consumption addict, I can totally relate.

Why? Why are we drawn more to consumption vs creation? Well, here are just a few reasons I can think of from my own experience:

  • The Illusion of Productivity: Consuming content gives us the sensation of progress. Each article read or podcast listened to feels like a step forward, like we’re actively improving ourselves or our businesses. However, without active implementation or reflection, this “progress” is often superficial.
  • Dopamine Hit: Every new piece of information can trigger a release of dopamine in our brains, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This biological response can make content consumption feel satisfying and even addictive.
  • Control in Chaos: Especially in uncertain times, having information at our fingertips can provide a semblance of control. By understanding what’s happening around us, we feel better equipped to navigate unpredictability.
  • Escape and Distraction: Consuming content can be a form of escapism. Instead of tackling a challenging task or confronting an uncomfortable emotion, it’s easier to lose oneself in an article, video, or podcast.

I can only speak for myself, but the biggest reason why I personally felt drawn to content overconsumption was because, in my heart of hearts, I didn’t feel like I was enough. My voice wasn’t worthy enough. My opinion wasn’t good enough. My knowledge and expertise wasn’t enough. I always had to first validate my thoughts through someone else’s work. Can you relate?

When Consumption Fuels Us: The Upsides

  • Broadening Perspectives: Consuming a diverse range of content helps us expose ourselves to different thoughts, ideas, and cultures. This expansive knowledge widens our horizons and lets us approach problems from multiple angles.
  • Boosting Creativity: Connecting seemingly unrelated dots is the heart of creativity. Regular consumption helps stock our mental library, enabling us to draw upon a plethora of concepts when needed.
  • Personal Growth: Learning from the experiences of others, understanding diverse viewpoints, and reflecting upon new philosophies can play a significant role in personal development.

You know how the saying goes, “too much of a good thing”? Well it’s true! Yes, even consuming too much of great things can impact us in a negative way. Here’s how…

Beware, the Pitfalls Await!

  • Analysis Paralysis: Too much information can lead to decision-paralysis. Instead of taking action, you might find yourself stuck, endlessly contemplating the myriad of options or waiting for the “perfect” piece of information.
  • Mental Fatigue: Our brains, remarkable as they are, have a finite capacity. Constantly taking in new information without reflection or breaks can lead to burnout.
  • Erosion of Deep Work: The quality of our work is declining! Why? Inundating oneself with too much content can compromise the ability to focus on deep, meaningful tasks. As Cal Newport would say, it erodes our capacity for “deep work”.

So, how do you know if you’ve been ensnared by the consumption trap? Reflect upon these:

  • Action vs. Consumption Ratio: Are you spending more time reading about doing something than actually doing it?
  • Feeling Overwhelmed: Does the thought of catching up on your reading list or podcast episodes cause stress?
  • Repetitive Learning: Are you revisiting the same content in different formats without diving deeper or implementing it?

Breaking Free: If you resonate with the signs, it’s time for a content diet. Prioritize quality over quantity. Schedule dedicated “implementation days”. Remember, it’s not about consuming less but consuming right.

August 25, 2023


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