Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Information Diet

There’s a new book out, “The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption.”  While it focuses on our information overload, I had to think, “WOW,” look at the parallels. The book talks about conscious consumption. Well . . .

If we stop to think about it, it becomes pretty obvious that healthy information consumption habits are about a lot more than just productivity and efficiency. It turns out even information consumption impacts our personal health, as well as the health of society. And, in the same way too much junk food can lead to obesity, junk information can actually lead to new forms of ignorance—call it cluelessness. 

The Information Diet provides a framework for consuming information in a healthy way, by showing you what to look for, what to avoid, and how to be selective. Hmmm . . . this sounds familiar. We can say the exact same thing about making healthy nutritional choices. After all, we know we are, at least in part, products of the food we eat. We are also products of the information we consume. This leads to the question of fault.

Is it the food’s fault that we eat too much? Is it the information’s fault that we have information overload? Maybe what we’re really suffering from is information malnutrition or information overconsumption. And,  it has all kinds of physiological and psychological effects on us. Hmmm . . . just like our nutritional choices. We may be eating too many empty calories, as well as too many empty mental calories. 

Here’s an interesting statistic. The average person spends more than 11 hours out of every 24 hours in a state of constant information consumption.  It seems that while we’ve grown obese on sugar, fat, sodas and junk food—at the same time we’ve become gluttons for tweets, texts, emails, instant messages, RSS feeds, downloads, YouTube videos, and FB status updates.

And it all comes back to the choices we make. It comes back to being mindful of those choices.

Guess what happens if we concentrate on cutting the low-quality information calories, as well as the low-quality nutritional calories?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Jumping the Chasm

It’s true. You can’t leap a chasm in two jumps. So, take a big breath, get a running start and go for it. But, if your big leap is the wrong thing, then what? Do you turn around mid-air? Make a different choice?  On the other hand, maybe you simply need to find a bridge. Maybe you want to just hedge your bets. Whether through one big leap or across a bridge, when find yourself on the other side of the chasm, what comes next?  Shift the conversation to wellness . . .

Creating a healthy lifestyle through behavior change will for most of us require a combination of a flying leap over a chasm and then completing the journey by walking across bridges. Both serve a purpose. First you need to make the big decision to move forward. This might mean making a dramatic change, or several major changes at one time. But, once that big decision is made, you’ll find that most of the time, the way to create positive lifestyle behavior change is the more non-dramatic decision to start and keep walking across the bridge, one step at a time until you get to the other side. 

And, where behavior change and wellness are concerned, without the bridges, you’ll find it’s not a chasm you jump once to get to the other side—you have to make that jump again and again, over and over. Along the way, it’s easy to encounter wellness fatigue. Now, if you’re crossing the bridge, you will find it to be every bit as life-altering as jumping across the chasm (perhaps not as dramatic). You end up in the same place, and one step at a time is sustainable, allowing for some course correction along the way.

Believe it or not, the decision to leap the chasm is often the easier decision. You decide. You jump. The decision to walk across the bridge requires a number of steps. You may get distracted, find yourself off-course, or simply change your mind and turn around. But, you can always turn back around and keep going until you reach the other side. If you think about it, most decisions are bridge decisions. You get from here to there by taking steps, the basic process through which we achieve the goals we set. 

When changing lifestyle behaviors, there’s a goal, a start, and there’s a finish. Simply comparing the flying leap decision with the crossing the bridge decision is similar to wanting instant results, for a process that takes time. Each of us knows who we are better than anyone else. We know what we will do, and we also know what we won’t do. We probably also know whether we’re jumpers or steppers, or more likely, a little of each.  

It’s up to each of us to decide how to ultimately get “to the other side”—the question is, are you ready to start the journey?