A big part of our life depends upon whether we just dream or create. All the successful people we meet are creators. They create things and they create value, which is also one of the reasons why entrepreneurship is very highly celebrated everywhere. Rest of us are consumers. The reason why our resolutions fail midway is solely dependent on whether we are creating or consuming?
You are creating when you post a status update and consuming when you like it. Many of us tend to browse through news feeds without doing either. The decision of being a creator or a consumer also tends to affect the fact that we act on things or react to things.
Most people we tend to admire are creators – some are influential writers, some create businesses and opportunities, while others post witty status updates with hundreds of likes. However, nobody knows about the person who is watching the news at home or just went through the entire news feed without doing anything significant.
We have a limited amount of attention at any given time so choice is ours, either we can decide to waste it on consuming content or invest in creating value.
Reactive people worry about things they cannot change while proactive people focus on the things they can change. What we can do is decide what we can control and how do we get influenced by things we cannot control.
Let’s see the difference between consumption and creation.
News – Celebrity gossip (eg. The divorce of Hritik Roshan), wars between countries, politics, political and religious views of people and so on. The biggest thing to note is these things might affect us indirectly but there is nothing we can do to change them. The purpose of News is to “grab your attention and hold it there”. And since we all can pay attention to only one thing at a time, it is not possible to do or think about anything productive while our attention is glued to the news.
Filter Bubble – Facebook, twitter, reddit, buzzfeed, google give us customized news based on what we may like instead of what we are looking for. When facebook launched its news feed, a journalist asked Mark Zuckerberg, why is it (newsfeed) so important? to which Mark replied, “A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now, than people dying in Africa”. This is the reason when you visit certain profiles more than others you start seeing them more frequently in your news feed as compared to others. And thus it blocks you out from other relevant information.
Notification slave – Same goes with notifications, we close the browser only to turn on the facebook/twitter/quora app on our smart phones and nine out of ten times find that someone has posted something in some group or invited us to play candy crush. The desire to see someone like/comment/upvote/retweet on our content leads us to check the app every now and then thus taking our attention away from important tasks at hand.
I am not implying that social media is bad and one should shun social media to achieve greatness.
Search and seek out – When it comes to news, all news isn’t bad. The news which “you are not looking for but come across passively” is the one which is bad for your productivity. If you are genuinely interested in a piece of news, go ahead and seek out that news and do all you can to learn about the subject and then act on it. Entrepreneurs look for news which is domain related that helps them directly or indirectly. Every link I click on hacker news leads me to something I can learn from.
Take action – Proactive people make things, they make use of what they have learned. For example, after reading this article you can make a list of things which take away your time and attention and reduce the amount of time you spend on them and focus on something else, including spending time with your family (you are nurturing relationships in this way). Taking action involves focusing your energy on things you can control like skills you learn, what you read, where you travel to, things you write, your startup, your relationships and such.
The path to become a ’proactive person’ from a ‘reactive person’ depends on how well we spend our time, time spent consuming cannot be utilized for creating.