“We’re consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra…” ― Chuck Palahniuk
As newly established professionals, we perhaps for the first time in our lives have the ability to earn a decent income and spend it with freedom. What we do with this new found freedom is mostly up to us. However, we live in a world that is relentlessly trying to drown us with the latest advert, gadget, series, movie, fashion, mobile game and a million other things. Should we consider a life lived endlessly consuming what others produce as meaningful? Ten, twenty or thirty years down the line, will we truly be happy with the life we have lived and the person we have become?
The Consumerist Bubble
Most of us over time will begin to fall into a particular pattern of living. We will spend most of our time at work helping our employer produce something that is of value to others. From the income we get, we will end up buying clothes, cars and other items we like. Other times we will watch movies and go out with friends. Activities such as these bring us entertainment, enjoyment and relaxation and usually do not take much effort. We live like this day after day, week after week, month after month and soon the years begin to roll by.
There is a major drawback to living life in such a manner. Lifesquared suggests that we could get trapped within a “consumerist bubble that will mould our entire worldviews – our aspirations, views, lifestyles and many other things”. Like a junkie that is only satisfied once he gets his next fix, we keep consuming different forms of entertainment to stay happy. Each time we want something better and something greater. We sometimes forget that there are now more platforms to learn, pursue our talents and develop something from scratch than ever before. By devoting most of our energy to consuming what others produce, we do not explore our potential to produce something to the best of our abilities.
Think like a producer
A producer is someone that exhibits behaviours significantly different to the consumer described earlier. A producer often tries to do things more efficiently. Increased efficiency provides them with more time to do the things they enjoy. Producers are less likely to get bored and move from one entertainment fix to another. Instead, they will exhibit the mindset of someone who is looking to explore opportunities, learn and make things better for themselves and those they care about.
In a previous post on values, I mentioned the importance of driving our decision-making based on what is important to us. Most of us will differ in what matters most to us. I would like to believe that all of us will hold at least one value that is aligned with the idea of producing something that will benefit others.
Developing a producer mindset does not necessarily require us to take a bold leap of faith. We can make gradual changes in our thinking and behaviour. Rather than always look for things to keep us entertained, let’s instead start to ask the questions the producer we defined earlier would. We can also try cut down on behaviours that lack focus and purpose. Some initial ideas that will help us to get going:
– Save more money for specific goals, purposes and needs as opposed to compulsive spending
– Look to travel, meet and understand different cultures
– Read books and articles which educate and inform us, rather than just entertain
– Look out for new hobbies and ideas to explore
– Look to develop and expand an existing talent or hobby
How we go further in this process will depend on what we find interesting and what is important to us. For those of us more entrepreneurially minded, we might look to expand on business ideas. This may lead to an opportunity to provide goods and services we care about. By providing value directly to consumers, we (not an employer) will reap the full benefits of producing. Others might want to take something they enjoy and try to develop it through additional platforms. For example, I enjoy writing and would like to develop it further through a blog and maybe a book someday. I know a friend who enjoys building wooden furniture items in his free time.
Once we are producing something (however simple), we can look at ways to use what we are producing and help or create value for others. If we expand on the examples provided, I could say I am trying to use my writing to share ideas and thoughts that will hopefully be of help to young professionals. My friend, who builds wooden furniture on the odd occasion, could look to develop it into a full-time business or even touch others his craft.
By applying a producer mindset at this early stage of our lives, we are more likely to see things from a different perspective. Most people will be looking to get through their work, go home and relax. We have the opportunity to get ahead of the crowd and also feel satisfied that we are creating something of value for others. Developing a producer mindset is not difficult but it requires us to make a conscious effort to examine our behaviours and actions. A producer mindset does not imply that we should give up on all the things we enjoy doing. Instead, such a mindset advocates that we balance our consumption with activities that are more productive and will provide us with longer-term feelings of happiness and fulfilment.
Becker, J. (2014, Jan). 9 Intentional Ways to Challenge Consumerism in Your Life
Derrent, N. (2014, Nov). How To Produce More By Making The Shift From ‘Consumer’ To ‘Producer’ Mindset
Glossinger, J. (2015, Jan). Are You A Consumer Or Producer?
Isaac. (2015, Oct). Are you a producer or consumer? | Make the shift
Johnson, C. (2015, Jan). Start Every Day as a Producer, Not a Consumer
Life Squared. (1999). The problem with consumerism
Nastor, J. (2015, Oct). Move From Consumer to Producer
Nelson, S. (2013, Jul). Be A Producer, Not A Consumer