Creation versus Consumption

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about this topic: Creation versus Consumption.

It’s been on my mind recently as I’ve gotten back from a fairly long holiday to Beijing and the Olympics. Particularly as I looked at the VERY large number of unread items in my RSS Reader. I could certainly knuckle down and catch up with all of those articles, and my e-mail inbox, and everything else, but where would that leave me? A week or two of pure Consumption (in this case news and information) would leave me satiated and “caught up” but with little to show for it.

Creation is the harder part to focus on. This may be a bit of the nature of my job as a consultant and my current projects. Back when I was Project Manager of the University of Michigan Solar Car Team, Creation meant actually designing and building things, which was fun and very rewarding. Standing in front of a mill and machining steel and titanium blocks into suspension parts, taking sheets of carbon fiber and honeycomb and creating the chassis and body of our car, et cetera. As a consultant so much of my job is about analysis, communicating and coordinating; while it’s very valuable to the client it’s a different sense of Creation than physically building something. (Of course, it might be different if I was working for clients that actually were creating something tangible themselves.)

Creation is Hard Work! Consumption is usually fun and interesting. But while Consumption can get to about 5 on the interesting scale, Creation goes all the way up to 11. While the day-to-day of Creation stays around 2–4, there is an unlimited potential for satisfaction when creating something new.

I really enjoy creating. And what’s more, the excitement builds on itself. With each thing I build or project I complete, I get more excited (and have more knowledge) when it comes to building the next new thing. This is what really draws me to become an entrepreneur.

But on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis, it’s been difficult to break the Consumption habits that have been the focus of my last couple of years. My free time each day comes in small bursts, so it’s much easier to Consume than Create on that kind of schedule.

Soon that’s going to change, and I’ll have a lot more freedom about how I arrange my days, and this is going to be something I will be focusing on more often.