Author: Carl Richards
Do me a favor.
Try to remember a time when you read or heard something about money in the news, you acted on it, and then, with the benefit of hindsight, you were glad you did.
This could include any number of things: the latest IPO, bear markets, bull markets, mergers, market collapses.
Go ahead, I’ll wait. Close your eyes and think about it.
I’ve done this experiment hundreds of times around the world, and I’ve only had one person come up with a valid example. It was news about a change in the tax law.
Isn’t that interesting?
Think of all the financial pornography out there, think of all the dental offices that have CNBC playing in the background, think of the USA Today Money section. Almost all of it is noise. Almost none of it is actionable.
Sure, every once in a while, there is this little teeny tiny speck of information that might be useful. But you sure have to wade through a lot of garbage to get to it.
This leads to one obvious question: Why are we paying attention to the noise in the first place?
It might be fun, if you’re into that kind of thing. You know, like going to the circus. But most likely, it’s just a waste of time.
What if, instead of obsessing over the news, you used that time to work on that list you have…
You know, “The List.” The one that has all the really important things you actually want to do with your time.
Doesn’t that sound so much better than spending another hour watching the news?
What if, for one whole week, you did a media fast?
You know… like, don’t consume any media at all. No screens, no devices, don’t even pick up a newspaper.
No. Media. Period.
Is one week too long? Then scratch that… make it three days. THREE DAYS. That’s just a long weekend. You can do it, I promise.
Give it a shot. And when you do, pay close attention to your emotional state. How does it make you feel? Happy? Sad? Energized? Exhausted? All of the above? None? Something else? I don’t know how it will make you feel… though I have my suspicions.
When I’ve done media fasts, I find myself feeling calm. Really calm. And to me, that feels good. Really good.
Which makes me wonder… if taking a media fast makes me feel so good, why do I ever go back to it at all?
Warning: You may find yourself asking that same question…
We don’t know when to stop.
At least, I sure don’t.
Sometimes, on the way home from work, I’ll swing by the grocery store, buy a pint of ice cream, and eat it.
That’s right. The whole thing.
Yes, I know. That’s a LOT of ice cream.
I’ve noticed that a very interesting thing happens when I do this:
Bite 1: Best thing in the world, ever.
Bites 2-10: Really good.
Bites 11-15: Good.
Bites 16-20: Meh.
Bites 21+: OK, now I’m sick.
I learned this lesson the first time I ate a pint of ice cream in a single sitting.
And yet, for some reason, I still occasionally repeat the experiment.
Of course, this phenomenon doesn’t only occur with ice cream. This is a well-documented economic principle called Marginal Utility, and, you guessed it, it applies to money, too.
Beyond a certain point, having more money will not lead to more security, freedom, and happiness.
Because security, freedom, and happiness do not come from more money (at least, not beyond a certain point). They come from knowing when to stop.