One big trap in self improvement is becoming an “information junkie.” This is when we spend more time learning new information than putting it into action.
An “information junkie” is someone who spends a lot of time reading books, watching videos, and listening to podcasts about self improvement, but they spend very little time actually putting what they learn into practice.
This is a very common problem for many people. We stuff our brains with loads of information, but then we find ourselves not knowing what to do with all of it. This is especially true in our current “information age,” where we are constantly consuming stuff on the internet and social media.
Of course, it’s a very positive thing to want to learn as much as possible and to do your own research into various topics. Overall — reading books, watching videos, and listening to podcasts is a very healthy and beneficial thing to do. Even the occasional surfing on Google and Wikipedia can be fun and informative.
But there comes a point when if you’re NOT able to apply this information to your everyday life, how useful is it really?
Endlessly seeking new information can ultimately become a distraction. We feel we’re not ready to make a change yet, so we think “Well, I should really read more articles or books before I decide what the best course of action is!”
But this can often become an impossible and never-ending task.
You’ll never know everything about a topic. Often times, being successful with your goals means learning how to “take action” even when you realize you don’t have perfect knowledge and perfect information.
And even more importantly, much of what we learn throughout our lives comes not just from books and videos, but through personal experience.
By focusing on information and not action, you’re actually limiting your education and self-growth by ignoring the importance of getting hands-on experience and real world knowledge.
It’s like reading books about how to play baseball without ever picking up a baseball and throwing it, or watching videos of people riding a bike without ever getting on a bike yourself. How good can you really get without any experience?
Have you fallen into the trap of becoming an “information junkie?” Do you spend too much time “learning” and not enough time “doing?”
Here’s advice on how to break out of this habit.
The “Consumer” vs. “Producer” Mindset
One important shift in your attitude is to go from a “consumer mindset” to a “producer mindset.”
The “information junkie” typically views themselves as a consumer. They feel they need to find the right book, the right video, or the right podcast that finally reveals to them some important piece of information that they’ve been waiting for.
Ultimately, they are searching for something outside of themselves before they can move forward, and not simply looking inside and doing the best with what they have.
Unlike the “consumer,” the “producer” is someone that is taking action with the knowledge they have and creating something of value that they can share with the world.
One important question to ask yourself is: “What am I creating on a daily basis? How am I adding value to the world and not just subtracting from it?”
This is a great question for everyone – not just people who are actively seeking self improvement.
In many ways, our culture has turned us all into crazed consumers. We’re constantly searching for the next movie to watch, the next video game to buy, the next fashion trend to jump on, etc. And this is where we draw a lot of our “happiness” from.
But we must also learn how to think of ourselves as “producers,” and not just “consumers.” And often this shift in your mindset can be far more fulfilling.
One important shift for me was making it a personal mission to create something new everyday. Even if it was just working on a new article or new video, I wanted to at least have something that I could show people and say, “I created this!”
The best part is: When you shift into a “producer mindset,” it does wonders for your confidence and self-esteem.
You stop seeing yourself as just a mindless consumer that depends on others. Instead, you become someone who is actually adding to the world and creating stuff – and that gives you an important sense of accomplishment that every human being craves.
There’s no better feeling than being able to point at something in the real world and say “I did this.” It shows you are participating in life and making a difference, however small it may seem to others.
To avoid becoming an “information junkie,” ask yourself, “What am I doing on a daily basis that brings me closer to my goals?” Take a second and write down the small steps you can begin taking within the next 24-48 hours.
Another important rule-of-thumb to follow is for every book, article, video, or podcast you consume, try to identify at least one action you can take based on the information you’ve learned.
Always remember: learning isn’t enough, we must put our knowledge into action, or whatever we learn will be meaningless.
Steven Handel is a self improvement author, blogger, speaker, and coach. He first started The Emotion Machine in June 2009 and has since published over 800 articles covering a wide-range of topics including Positive Psychology, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Social Psychology, Mindfulness Meditation, Emotional Intelligence, and much more!