Does consuming content undermine taking action?

And how video games do it right.

Does consuming content undermine taking action?

This week:

  • Musings: Consuming Content
  • Questions: Knowledge vs. Information
  • Resources: Seth Godin
  • Personal Updates: Lots of Opportunities!


Ironic that as someone who wants to write & share ideas online, I'd be asking this question, but I don’t think it gets talked about enough.

Does consuming content undermine taking action?

Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

Content serves to solve a problem.

Once you've consumed a piece of content you can say you know what to do and how you can solve your problem.

But is that really going to help you?

When you're just starting out, absolutely. We need to get some sort of grasp around the landscape and concepts that are important. We need to prioritize.

As we get to the 5th or 10th piece of content around the topic, and (if you're like me) trying to find the most efficient way to do step 5 when you haven't even started step 1, it starts to become a problem.

For a while, I wasn't able to place my finger on it, but this week, the right content landed into my inbox to better understand it.

Let's chat about video games and neuroscience:

Denial of Pleasures

One of the main reasons why video games are so fun and addictive is because they deny you pleasures.

There's an end that you want to get to, a final boss that you need to defeat, but you're weak and helpless right now. If you were to go one shot the final boss at the start of the game, then wander around and do all of the side quests, it wouldn't be as fun, right?

When you're able to hack or cheat in everything you need, the game becomes boring. I remember buying an Action Replay for my DS when I was a kid. When I turned all of my weeds in Animal Crossing to millions of bells, I suddenly lost all interest in the game.

But how does this work in our brains?

It comes down to our dopaminergic systems.

In her book Dopamine Nation, Dr. Anna Lembke describes a see-saw, with pleasure on the one side, and pain on the other. Here’s a quick break down:

Our brain processes pleasure and pain in the same place. There is a balance between the two. When we have a very pleasureful experience, it's often followed by a lull, a dip in emotion, a time of pain. Conversely, we can push on the pain side to increase pleasure. For instance, with cold showers and exercise.

My theory is that video games press on this pain side -- lightly, yet just enough for it to work. We have to put in the effort to grind levels in order to finally become strong enough to take on the final boss.

In order to see what happens, we have to put the effort in, and all we have is a quest marker that shows us the direction of the next step.

Let's bring this tangent back:

Information precludes Experimentation

This "not knowing" of the roadmap is what makes us want to take action.

So does consuming content, and understanding the roadmap of what to do, actively hold us back from experimenting and trying out the things that we want to build? Does knowing the route make us not even want to try?

The point of the content that I create isn't to give answers, but to create discussion. To hopefully share the ideas I find inspiring and have others think about them too. I want to help us question the status quo of marketing, working, entrepreneurship, productivity, etc.

So how do we engage with content? How do we balance the FOMO with actually moving forward in our lives?

Here are some questions for you to think about this week:

  • Where are you prematurely optimizing? Where do you feel the need to know the perfect roadmap?
  • Who are your key creators? Who cuts through the noise? How can you hone your attention on them?
  • For every hour you spend consuming content, how much time do you put into reflecting and creating?


This was a bit too tangential to put in the main musings, but I’m curious what you think:

Does information = knowledge? What differentiates the two?

Would love to hear from you in the comments!


Seth Godin — The Pursuit of Meaning…

I love any and every conversation with Seth Godin, and Tim, of course, is a brilliant host. Only about half way through this one so far, but this conversation is super inspiring, hearing some of Seth’s personal stories around the meaning of life.

Check it out here:

Personal Updates

I'd like to share a bit on what I'm working on each week, more from a productivity & business development perspective. Slight bit of accountability, as well as just be able to update people who would like to follow along!

Finishing up the Small Bets course today, which I’ve found super helpful when it comes to the mindset of making money online. Plus the community is great!

I’ve been doing quite a bit of contemplation on what “small bet” I should start with, so while I don’t have too much progress on that front this week, I have been trying to put more time into building my own personal productivity system with Notion (which may turn into a product, LMK if interested 😁) .

Other than that, I’ve officially started the website build for the family friend last time, and had another call with a friend this week about possibly helping out with some SEO & PPC. Not to mention, I’m also starting to chat with a creator around helping out with some analytics. Lots of stuff happening!

Here’s my little to-do list for next week:

  • Finish most of the site build
  • Build SEO/PPC proposal
  • Work on Notion setup

Thanks for reading!

The coolest thing you could do (if you're already subscribed, if not, subscribing would be the absolute coolest) is to leave a comment or reply to this email. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this week, if you have any thoughts on this week's musings, or responses to this week's questions.

Much love! - Joe