Optimize your media input streams to support your goals

optimize your media input

What you think about is what happens. Or at the very least is much, much more likely to happen than something you never think about at all. This is the fundamental idea behind personal success classics from Think and Grow Rich to The Secret, and it’s also the engine that drives commercial advertising. If advertisers can get you to think about fabric softener and diet pills you’re more likely to spend money on those products than if you don’t think about them. Period.

TBYB! believes we can and should exploit the same strategy to advance our own agendas. If I see a picture several times every day that reminds me to go for a walk or save money, I’m more likely to take action on those goals than if I don’t think about them. That very simple idea is the principle that underlies everything we do here at Take Back Your Brain!.

Your mind will receive a staggering number of messages in 2009 that you mostly have no control over. TBYB! suggests that you take a look at the input streams that you do control, to make sure their content is in alignment with your goals.

  1. Inventory all of the sources you’re using to feed your brain. What are you consuming now?
  2. Consider deleting sources that are not either excellent or directly related to your goals (Or both). Prune fearlessly.
  3. Add new sources that feed the areas you want to think about.

Below are several areas to consider. I found it fascinating to actually write down the content I consume for each one: which blogs I subscribe to, which TV shows I watch regularly, etc. Seeing them all in one place gave me an appreciation for how many of these input sources I make choices about. I’m sure I’ve left some out. What other media sources do we consume?

  • Print media: Newspapers, magazines, and books. What do you read?
  • Online media: Desktop wallpaper, screen saver, browser home page, blog subscriptions, usernames and passwords, listservs, groups. What do you see when you look at your screen? What’s in your feed reader?
  • Audio media: Podcast subscriptions, play lists, radio pre-sets, streaming radio, etc. What’s on your play list? How about the radio in your car?
  • Video media:TV, TiVo, NetFlix, YouTube. What do you watch regularly?
  • Educational media: Classes, workshops. etc. What will you learn this year?
  • Physical media: Bulletin boards, pictures, clothing, objects, etc. When you look around what do you see?
  • Sentient media: Who do you spend most of your time with, either face-to-face or online? What themes do they talk about?
  • Social media: Who do you follow? Have any of them achieved what you want? (Should I get on Facebook and Twitter? If so, how should I do it in a way that feeds me rather than distracts?)

As you inventory the many information sources you consume, ask yourself if each one is helping you to think about the things you’d like to see happen in 2009. What patterns do you see? Are you mostly feeding yourself information about politics, entertainment, sports or personal growth? Is that what you want to think about? How many sources are currently feeding the topic areas where you want to expand? What could you let go of without missing it?

Of course there’s nothing wrong with entertainment, and a healthy information diet will include some items from this mental food group. However, as you take a few minutes to inventory your information streams you may decide to make some gentle tweaks to make sure you’re also including regular input that is nourishing your thoughts about the life you want to create this year. Perhaps a modest approach would be to delete one low-priority item from each category to make room for a new, high-quality source.

We are all constantly building our neural networks. How will you fertilize the network that is you in 2009? How can you proactively choose input for your brain rather than just passively receiving advertising?

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