I know better. That’s what I’ve been repeating to myself over and over again since about October of last year.
I’ve unfortunately gotten off track on a number of fronts because I increasingly let distractions get in the way of what I know is more valuable.
The primary culprit? Consumption.
I’ve been consuming a number of sources of information and accumulating stuff again in 2017:
- Social Media
- Cosmetics & Skin Care
I’ve spent countless hours on YouTube. It started with me looking for various how tos and tutorials but that soon turned into getting sucked into a vortex of responding to click baits and falling for YouTube’s curated feed of similar content. Damn algorithms!
The consumption quickly turned to watching comedians, political news and other content, much of it absolute brain junk food.
And YouTube was a gateway drug of sorts for me, leading to more time on Facebook and about the same time on Twitter. Just with these three, I’ve managed to suck three hours a day away from potential thinking time.
I can’t figure out how folks can also make time for Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, LinkedIn, and whatever else can suck us into a time vortex. I have trouble just keeping up with a handful of them.
And do I really need to keep up? What’s the payoff, other than the short-lived dopamine response?
Cosmetics and Skin Care
As I’ve written about previously, I’ve been experimenting with a lot of beauty products and it’s been a great deal of fun. But the cost of the distraction, both in time and money has had a material impact on 2017.
Am I happy to have discovered how much fun it is to try things now that I know my skin can take it? Absolutely! Is a few hours a day, researching, sourcing and applying it a worthwhile use of my time and money in this area? Not unless I start to put to greater use what I’ve learned so far in some way. I'm reaching the point of diminishing returns, and I know it. There's not good reason to consume so much of this information anymore. It's a distraction now, as opposed to the source of useful information it once was.
It's easy to get wrapped up in the hype and the marketing. After all, it’s just goop you put on your face and body. How much will that matter to me looking back on it?
My focus on electronics has been about researching more than buying in 2017. We have an iPad that’s on its last legs, a MacBook and associated software (for MacBook and iMac) that needs to be upgraded/improved/replaced/learned and a new requirement for lights for my foray into video production (pictured right). All these tend to cost a lot of money, hence the research to ensure we buy the right stuff. After all, you can save a lot of money and effort by buying the right stuff.
This distraction, consumption, practice, research has cost me dearly. It has taken time and attention away from things that are important to me and that I'm increasingly frustrated that I'm not doing more of:
- Reading books (which I consider much more valuable than viewing content on screen or listening to audio files)
- Creating content (articles, talks, course materials, books)
- Self care (exercising, sleeping, thinking/contemplating, staying in the moment)
- Spending time with family and friends (the best way to spend time IMO—though, thankfully we did a TON of that over the Holidays)
Looking back at 2017, I don’t think that significant of a tradeoff was worth it. It didn’t feed my soul the way spending time deliberately did for me in previous years. It feels more like I fed an impetuous child who constantly needs to distract himself with the next shiny object to capture his attention.
My pent up frustration with these distractions points to one single underlying cause: the struggle of striking the right balance between pleasure in the moment and contentment over the long term.
In recent months, I've felt like a hamster on the wheel of bad behaviour and the momentum I've built up has only made it easier to stay the course. It's time to get off.
I need to reclaim depth, patience, focus and immersion. I need to get myself back into intermittent states of flow.
I know it will be hard because I’ve been trying to get back to it for weeks and I keep bobbing along in the increasingly-frustrating shallows.
Thankfully, they are frustrating me. Apathy would only lead to a perpetuation of the status quo and I’m not willing to live more of the same this year.
Here’s to turning the page, in more ways than one.
I’m ready for a new chapter. It'll be both familiar and new. And requisite for a Happy(er) New Year.