Creating more and consuming less. Sounds kind of simple, doesn’t it?
You would find that creating more and consuming less is easier said than done. Nonetheless, it is something that I will be striving to do in the New Year and beyond and the proof is in the pudding, as they say.
These posts do not write themselves, and I often put these thoughts and ideas that I am having down out into cyberspace at the expense of doing something else. More times than not, it is during time that I otherwise may have spent watching TV or reading a book. What I try to minimize is writing instead of spending time with my family.
Consumption is inbound. It is consuming knowledge, learning, reading, watching, observing, conversing, and generally absorbing information from the outside world. This typically takes the form of reading for me. It may be a book, one of the dozen or so magazines that I subscribe to, a trade publication that I get at work, or a blog post on one of about thirty or so that I regularly follow. I typically read for a few hours per day.
I do not watch a real lot of TV, but like everyone, I sometimes get sucked into it. In my case, it is most often sports that sucks me in. With the Cubs getting ready to defend their World Series title, I am looking forward to spending quite a few hours consuming their playoff run on TV rather than creating.
Every human must consume, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with consumption: It’s necessary. We must consume food and water. We all tend to purchase hygiene products, furniture for our homes, and other material possessions that bring us joy.
The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, write that the job of marketers is to create a feeling that there is a void in what we consume. We all 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, emotionally, and the void becomes cavernous.
The primary thing that I witness in regard to consumption is social media. It seems as if everyone around me, including some of those closest to me, spend hours upon hours scrolling through Facebook feeds, checking Instagram feeds, looking at Twitter and just consuming consuming consuming.
I took the train to and from the Big City the last two days and was most likely the only one on the train car for all four trips who was not glued to my phone or laptop the entire time.
Have you not seen people who are constantly busy on their phones consuming stuff without moving a needle for anyone? Perhaps you are one of those people, yourself. If so, try jumping off the bullshit social media treadmill for a day or two to see what happens.
As I often say and occasionally write, one of my grandfathers lived past one hundred years of age and another lived until his nineties. Neither of them ever accessed the Internet (on their own, at least) and lived far richer lives than the vast majority of those who spend hour upon hour staring at their phones.
When it comes to food, we all consume it every day unless we are fasting for some reason or suffering from the flu. Last year, I went a few days without eating and had a very shitty day right before my colonoscopy.
I am not urging anyone to cease consumption of food. What I could certainly improve upon, however, is doing better in terms of not overeating as much as I do and my family not eating out and picking up carry-out as much as we do. As a four-person family, if you were to add up all of our meals purchased from mostly quick casual restaurants, some fast food places and an occasional family night out at a full service restaurant, we easily surpass the average of eighteen times per month (per Zagat).
The last time that I checked, we had over thirty receipts for dining or carrying out a meal and surpassed $500 in spending, and that has not slowed down. If anything, it has increased with how busy our daughter is going from place to place. It seems like I am often asked to pick something up on the way home, like Jersey Mike’s, Panda Express or Lou Malnati’s.
We had a streak of busy days last week where we picked up a meal every day of the week, and I could not help thinking about how wasteful that was.
To create more and consume less in terms of food in my book would mean not only eating less, but making more of our meals rather than purchasing them. Of course, it is more labor-intensive and time-consuming, but it is also less costly and healthier so to me the good outweighs the bad.
Creation is not so easy. The vast majority of people do not have blogs, or at least do not have blogs that many people read. Most people do not have published books, musical groups that they play with or create sculptures, paintings or some other form of art.
How do you go about creating then?
If you are a mother or father, like my wife and I are, you can take pleasure in the nurturing of the children that you created together and dedicate much of your time and energy to that.
But for this particular post, we are talking about creating something beyond what billions of people have done since the dawn of man. It does not take much to create a child. It takes a hell of a lot to be a great parent, but that is the topic for another post.
Creating something is a new behavior for many of us. It is difficult at first. We are middle class guys. We work at jobs, whether it be in sales, engineering, technical stuff, the building trades, computers, whatever. Our jobs and our personal lives, being husbands, fathers, friends, brothers, sons, uncles and the like takes up the time that we have outside of work.
Plus, we need some time for ourselves. You cannot always be either working or doing something with or for somebody else. If you want to consume a few beers while watching your favorite football team this Sunday, there is not anything wrong with that.
However, it is most definitely consuming and not creating.
Recovering your creative self takes a lot of effort. I should know. I thought about starting a blog for over four years before I did and, now that I have, I only have a few dozen readers. Oh well, I am grateful for that number. Plus, I can improve and repackage these posts into eBooks, which I know will sell if I slap nice “covers” on them and come up with snappy, SEO-friendly names.
I certainly strive to be good, nice and helpful at my place of work. I want to be generous and of service to the community that employs me to lead its economic development efforts. To those whom I work with and report to, it certainly looks as if I am all there, but my true self has gone to ground.
My true self is a highly creative person with boundless ideas. I wish that I had more time and energy to devote to writing, but at the same time I recognize that my economic development knowledge and skills is what enables my family to pay our bills.
Creating is also how we get better at what you do. Continuously creating leads to progress and growth that we cannot realize in any other way. Creation is our voice and creating is the only way to let our voices be heard. If we are not creating, we will not feel fulfilled or feel like we are making any progress because all that we know is not being expressed.
I may spend my day taking orders from a younger, less experienced and far less wise person than myself all day tomorrow, but he cannot influence even one percent what I will be writing in my next one or one thousand posts. Those stem completely from my own creative nature and what is floating around in my mind at the time.
At this particular time, I am thinking about creating more than I consume.