Photo by Darren Hester

If you ever feel guilty about consuming too much of one thing, unless it’s veggies, you probably are.

Our mind has collected hundreds of thoughts turned into assumptions through our lives about it. This and that is bad, too much of anything is bad. My God, it seems like everything we like is bad. Hey! Pizza is bad… those evil Italians…

But seriously, lately I have been more conscious of what we consume and I’m sure, because of the latest events regarding our economy, all of us thought about it a little.

Of course we can’t eliminate it, but we can choose, reduce or increase whatever we consume every day. I’m not just talking about the products we buy, but what we eat, watch on TV, read or listen to. We become what we consume. I love a good bottle of Chilean cabernet, but if I have one every day…

A Little Story

I’m not a radical guy, I don’t like extremes. I used to get together with a very good friend of mine to watch an occasional soccer game. Good times. I know he loved it as much as I did, but at some point he decided to completely eliminate TV from his life. I have a lot of respect for that, but I’m left with one question: What’s wrong with watching an occasional soccer game on TV if you love it that much? Unless it is interfering with more important things in life or keeping you from achieving your dreams then, I don’t see the problem. We still talk about it…

I rather enjoy my soccer game in my own format. Usually games are on Sundays, so I Tivo it. I spend the day with my family and watch it at night, after the kids are in bed ready to go to school on Monday, after I planned my week. The time I dedicate to this is very short compared to more important activities in my life. I believe gadgets are not to blame. The stupid TV is not changing anything for me.

Don’t even get me started on video games, if your kid spends all afternoon playing, that’s your fault, don’t hate on Playstation.

How to get a Reality Check

If you want to get a pretty good idea of what you consume, I suggest taking the time to get a visual in front of you. Here is what I did:

1.    Track the amount of time you spend on daily activities and what you consume during that time. Do it for a week. Let’s say, when you’re watching TV, how long do you watch it? And what are you watching? Don’t do this when you’re traveling or doing something that’s not average in you week.

2.    Divide the activities in categories and then draw a pie chart or something that can get you a visual.

3.    Realizing that you are spending too much time on something or consuming the wrong content while doing it is always helpful. Focus on what you love; are you spending enough time doing what you love?

4.    Use common sense. This is not hard unless you want to make it that way. You know what you love and what’s good for you.

5.    Make small changes. If you want to spend 20 minutes reading a book on how to start your own business and reduce those 20 minutes out of your TV watching every night, set the goal. Don’t go crazy, I’m not saying don’t watch TV all week. Do it for a week and observe.

6.    Track your week again, draw your pie chart one more time and compare, see the difference. Acknowledge the change. Awareness is a beautiful thing, it gives you power.

7.    Adjust again, until you are comfortable. If you’re not ok with the new timeframe you setup for your daily dose of Internet browsing or the content you’re getting, go back.

8.    Don’t beat yourself up, just do it again. You are not reporting to anybody. We can always improve.

9.    Reward yourself even for small improvements. Feel good about it (Maybe this a good time for that bottle of wine…).

10.    Get closer to your dreams, even if it’s little by little. Hey… maybe you can’t open that business right now, but you can start the research.

Remember that this is not just about quantity. Focus on quality too. If you are going to spend time doing something, make an impact on your life and the ones surrounding you, it will take you exactly the same time. Even if it’s just watching TV, watch your favorite show instead of surfing and settling for whatever is on at that time.

All I’m saying is apply some common sense in your life, eating junk is always tempting, but eating healthy has long-term rewards that are hard to match. Now, if tonight you are making an exception to eat a pizza like I’m doing, eat it with all your heart, even if your wife is giving you that look…

Little things you consume every day can reshape your entire life.

Or you can keep listening to Milli Vanilli if you want…