Have you ever noticed how much you consume on a daily basis? From eating food 3x a day, watching television before bed, reading the news in the morning, checking social media on break or being exposed to over 5,000 ads a day.
Consumption has become less of a conscious choice and more of a habit.
Have you ever gone to the store and saw something you felt the need to buy? A new jacket, gloves or boots for the upcoming winter season.
You feel almost compulsive in wanting to purchase it – “I must have it.”
Even though you might have a closet filled with jackets, gloves, and boots to choose from.
Maybe it’s not clothes but rather beauty products, video games, books, car accessories or fine wine. Whatever it may be, we all have consumption habits.
Although the difficulty with consumption habits is that they are never-ending. There is and always will be more to consume.
Once you have that facial moisturizer you always wanted, you’ll feel you need the morning serum as well. Once purchased, you might now require the evening facial scrub to go along with it.
Or you purchase a new suit, and there is still the button-up, tie and new scarf you’ll want to compliment your ensemble.
We live in a society where consumption is at the core. Our economy relies on our consumption habits, targeted daily by companies that want to convince you that you need more.
In the book, Richest Man in Babylon – the story describes something very interesting. It says that no matter your income, you’ll always spend what you have.
Think about it for a moment. When you got a raise, bonus or fall into some money – did your consumption habits remain the same or did they change? For the most of us, they went up.
It’s human nature to spend what we have. That’s why Ramit Sethi, recommends automating your savings into a separate account so that you can only spend what you have in your “spending account.”
This has led us to the point where consumption has become a habit more than a conscious thought process.
So who is to blame for our consumption habits – us or them?
Hot-Cold Empathy Gap
The hot-cold empathy gap is the tendency to underestimate the influence of our emotional state on our decisions and behaviors and overestimate the intellectual influence on decision-making.
Referring to two different states of mind. First, is the cold state when you’re not facing any decision. Second, is the hot state where you are in the moment and met with a decision to make.
In a cold state, we are rational and more likely to make informed decisions. Although in a hot state, self-control is difficult to manage and we succumb to our cravings or consumption habits.
To illustrate, if I asked you how likely it would be that you could say no to a piece of warm apple pie right now. You’re more likely to say that you could resist. This is a cold state.
What if I present you with a warm piece of apple pie before asking?
Your sense of smell is triggered; you see the overflow of apple around the edges and can almost taste the pie just by looking at it. Now you’re in a hot state, and it’s more difficult to manage your self-control.
The goal of McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Nordstrom, Sephora, and all major retailers is to take you from a cold state of mind into a hot state of consumption.
Here are 3 ways you can fight this:
1. Pre-commitment: A strategy to make a specific pre-commitment not to engage in a consumption habit, so that when faced with a decision your choice has already been made. This requires some form of willpower.
2. Public Persona: Create a public image of yourself which others see you as and live up to it. I have an image of getting up early, which has forced me to get up early when visiting relatives or friends, just due to the public persona that I’ve created of being an early riser.
3. Never say never: To avoid the hot state decisions, postpone your temptation. This will allow you to decide a cold state, where you will be in a better position to make a choice.
The Power of Overconsumption
Living in an abundance culture, where your needs will never be satisfied has created excessive consumption habits. Programmed to consume, we live in a consumption economy driven by advertising to influence our consumption for more.
Therefore leading to consumption habits we’re not even aware of:
Have you ever sat on the couch and watched 4 hours of Netflix, and felt drained?
Ate so much food and felt like you were about to explode.
Went on a shopping spree, just to find yourself buying things you don’t need.
Checked social media every time you have a few seconds to spare; in line, at the bus stop, between meetings, walking down the hall, etc.
Overconsumption is a dangerous habit that can have adverse effects on your health, productivity, and well-being. And it’s difficult to control consumption habits when you’re not aware of them.
Where To Go From Here
Habits can be significant in providing value to your life, although bad habits have adverse consequences. Wouldn’t you be better off controlling your consumption habits?
Being able to moderate your consumption, rather than letting your consumption habits power your decisions, can be easier than it sounds.
You can start just by recognizing how much time you spend watching TV, or on social media. You can track your purchasing for the month or even write down what you have for lunch every day.
At first, don’t try to change your habits, just become aware of them. Because you cannot change what you are not aware of.
After tracking your time or money, then you can decide if you’d like to make any changes and begin taking the steps toward improvement.
Here is what I want from you today
1. Identify 3 consumption habits and write them down on a sheet of paper.
2. Send me an email with 3 consumption habits you’d like to change.
3. Over the next 7 days, track these habits in terms of dollars, time or good/bad.
4. After 7 days I’ll follow up with you, and we can discuss strategies to change one specific habit.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org and use the subject line consumption habits.
Take the next step in your quest for success and get started today.