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I think the phrase, “Consume Less, Create More” is going to be my new motto. I would like to make it into a t-shirt, write it on Post-it notes, and create an automatic message that pops up on my computer screen every now and then to remind me. A little overboard? Maybe. But seriously, this has been something I’ve been thinking about a LOT lately.
Maybe you’re like me and love to learn. I seriously think if I had the money, I would be taking classes constantly. Nerd alert, I know. Don’t tell, but I was the kid who got to class early to chat with my teachers. I blame this on my parents (and grandparents and aunts and uncles) who were teachers. They’re just so much fun to talk with. But I digress.
Loving to learn has been a great benefit as I’ve been working this year to learn all I can to make Little Girl Designs a great resource. So it isn’t a bad thing. But when I noticed recently, it was becoming THE thing, I realized I had a bit of a problem.
How to Know if You’re Consuming Too Much (My Checklist)
- You read way too many updates in your Instagram/Facebook/social media feed every. single. morning.
- You check email more than once or twice a day.
- You sign up for a class, do the assignments up until week three, then sign up for another class.
- Your favorite blogger/entrepreneur/creative announces a new workshop and you sign up, even though you know you won’t even be home that day. But you figure you’ll squeeze in watching it that night or something.
- You take pages of notes for these classes and workshops, you pin 8 million ideas, (or if you’re old-fashioned), you dog-ear lots of inspirational magazines and books.
- You feel so inspired but there’s something that feels like stress lurking beneath the surface too . . . and you can’t quite put your finger on it.
Oh, that’s just me?
No, it’s not. You guys send me emails (or at least a few of you did) and you mentioned the same feelings of overwhelm. How you (and I) love to create but there’s just so much inspiration out there and where to start?! How you love to take courses on how to grow your blog and learn but it feels like you’ll never get the chance to truly implement because, well, did you hear about that new course that is coming out next month? It sounds ah-mazing and it’s half off for a limited time!
Hence, the reason why the phrase, “Consume Less, Create More” has been on my mind lately. I have several projects that are on the burners right now. Things I’d love to see come into fruition in the next year. But they’re clearly not going to become anything if I just keep on reading, learning, and taking notes.
As I was writing this post, and maybe because I started having serious doubts about whether or not I was the only one who does this, I decided to Google, “consume less, create more.” My fears were immediately washed away when the results showed over 69,000,000 results. Good grief. This looks like a bit of a problem, you think?
I did click on a few of those links and a comment by Scott Dinsmore in his article about consuming less and creating more struck me. He said, “The problem is that there is no risk in consuming. There’s no fear of rejection.” Eek.[ctt title=”The problem is that there is no risk in consuming. There is no fear of rejection. -Scott Dinsmore” tweet=”The problem is that there is no risk in consuming. There’s no fear of rejection. -Scott Dinsmore via @jenniemoraitis http://ctt.ec/PdD7L+” coverup=”PdD7L”]
His words might seem a little strong if your frustration stems from being overwhelmed about what creative project to do next. It’s not like you finishing your kid’s scrapbook is going to change the world, right? Probably not, though you’ll likely enjoy flipping through those pages someday.
What this approach to creating more and consuming less will most likely do is give you a great sense of peace and, dare I say it, happiness. Another blogger did a happiness experiment and actually tracked how many things he was consuming on a daily basis as opposed to what he was creating. Then he wrote down how he felt. Time and again he realized that over-consumption was the cause of him feeling down. (As a side note here, if you are suffering from clinical depression, please seek help from a trusted doctor. Creating things will certainly help in your healing process but you will need additional guidance. And that’s perfectly fine!)
I’ve noticed that on the days where I’ve made stuff, even little things, I’ve been more cheery than on the days that I spent way too much time hunched over my keyboard staring at a screen of information.
Another article I came across was from The Minimalists who talked about the void we often feel in our lives and how that void isn’t what the advertisers tell us it is, namely, we need to buy their product NOW, but rather:
…the void most of us feel is a creative void—we’re so caught up in our consumeristic mindset we forget our inherent need to create. The solution, then, is to create more and consume less—if we spend more time creating, we will spend less time consuming: This is how we move the needle of contentment back to the positive. -The Minimalists
I like the mental picture of moving “the needle of contentment back to the positive,” don’t you?
So, now that we’ve chatted for a while, what’s the takeaway here? How can we move from being consumers of creative ideas to creators who are making those things come to life? Well, I think in some ways, we need to be careful to not fall into the traps I wrote about regarding perfectionism, procrastination, and comparing. My mom mentioned one day how she doesn’t even know how we (my generation and the ones younger than me) can stand all of the information overload about every area in our lives. She said, rightly, that it makes it difficult to have a clear thought that one can call their own.
There are so many voices out there saying and showing how to do this and that but when it comes down to it, only you can create the life you love. There isn’t a secret system that will pull your life together with a big bow and make you super creative. You can pick up ideas here and there from others but there comes a point when you have to close the book, turn off the computer, put the phone down, and live your life.
Unfortunately, since we are surrounded by a Pinterest world online, we can get the idea that a life of “consuming less and creating more” means:
- Updating the kitchen with new cabinetry and appliances
- Redecorating the whole house
- Finishing all of the scrapbooks for our kids (who already left the house, but no matter)
- Doing every single project we’ve pinned or ripped out of magazines once and for all
But in truth, Consume Less, Create More will look different to everyone who reads this post.
It might look like:
- Getting dinner on the table every day of the week
- Keeping your sketchbook nearby so you can draw ideas throughout the day
- Not signing up for another class until you implement the concepts you just learned
- Writing for 20 minutes a day
- Making a card and writing a few sentences of encouragement in it to a friend
Many of us don’t have all the time (or money or energy) in the world to work on huge projects, and that’s okay. I think that sometimes we feel a little sorry for ourselves that our life circumstances don’t allow for those dream projects to become realities right now (finger pointed at myself here), so instead of doing something, even if it’s small, we don’t do anything at all. Except scroll through our Instagram feed.
So here’s my challenge to myself and to you. Let’s use what we have right now to do what only we can do. Whatever that is.[ctt title=”Let’s use what we have right now to do what only we can do. Whatever that is.” tweet=”Let’s use what we have right now to do what only we can do. Whatever that is. via @jenniemoraitis http://ctt.ec/Cqep5+” coverup=”Cqep5″]
We’ll still learn and enjoy that process, but we’re going to create margin in our lives to allow our own selves to think and create and make. We’ll try things and sometimes they won’t work out, but we’ll keep stepping forward.
For me, I’m limiting the amount of learning intake that I’m doing this month. I’m not going cold-turkey, but I’m dialing it back. And when I’m tempted, I have a list of things that I actually have been wanting to do that I’m working on. It takes discipline but so far, I’ve been really happy with this process.
I’ve pulled out my Creative Retreat workbook and have been filling up the pages with ideas for the future. And I’ve been making myself actually start some of those ideas (isn’t that the hardest part sometimes?!)
What are your thoughts? How could you consume less so you have more room for creativity in your life?
P.S. The Creative Retreat workbook shows you how to DIY your own personal retreats and keep your creative life going year-round. Click here to purchase it on Amazon wherever you live in the world. 🙂