Where's your crossover point?

Years ago I was in one of those periods where I had a lot to do but not much was actually happening. I was getting frustrated with my lack of discipline, I would sit and watch TV for 3 to 4 hours a night knowing that I should be doing more productive things with my time, it was frustrating. It got to the point where the disappointment in myself crescendoed and one night I woke up at 3am and went around the house and cut off the cords to all of our TV’s. I know, that was pretty full on. I was lucky that my partner at that time wasn’t upset by this - luckily she wasn’t a big TV watcher. 

Over the next period of time I discovered that I had gained a massive amount of time in my daily  life and I started to use this to be more productive, my inner disappointment slowly dissolved. For the next 7 years I lived without a TV in my life and I have to admit that I probably became the guy who liked to tell the world that he didn’t have a TV in a way that was about showing how cool I was, I’m sure many people thought I was a dork. 

After my partner Jo and I had been seeing each other for a few years we decided that we would move in together. People asked me what I was going to do about the TV situation. I knew that Jo enjoyed watching certain shows in her week and it wasn’t my place to ask her to stop having these in her life. The adjustment would have to come from my side and that I would have TV back in my life. Nowadays I enjoy having TV back. Jo and I will work our way through certain series at one time, last year we were hooked on Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones (as were thousands of others around the world).

While TV is back in my life, it’s now something that I enjoy in my day because there has been a shift in how I approach it from when I was younger. The thing that I have discovered is that there is some value in having TV in my life, I enjoy consuming good content, I find it’s nice to unwind and laying on the couch watching content allows me to relax, plus there’s the social connection you have with fans of the same shows. The difference in my approach from when I was younger is I now know when the value has stopped and the activity of TV watching has gone from being a valuable part of my day to a place where I feel like I’m wasting my life. 

There are certain activities in your life that have value up to a certain point but once they go past that point they can become an activity that works against you. TV watching, browsing the internet and your social media activity are a few examples. Up to a point these things can add a lot of value to your life but it’s like there is a critical moment when they go from being a valuable thing to a complete time waster. Many of us have experienced times when we realise we have checked the same internet sites many times over in one day, I know that when I have these days I get the feeling that I am wasting my life.  

When we think about this we want to learn where our critical point is and learn how to move away from the valuable thing before it starts working against us. For Jo and I with TV that tends to be about an hour most nights. We’ll fast forward through the news, watch our pieces of interest, and then we’ll watch one show which we fast forward through the ads. Once that show is finished we turn off the TV and move onto other things. The difference between now and when I was younger is that when I was younger I didn’t have the ability to turn it off, I would have continued watching even when I knew what I was watching I didn’t really care for. 

If you know that there are areas of your life that can be a double edged sword, that they could be a valuable activity but they could also be an activity that works against you, start to develop an awareness around that critical point. Once you learn where that is you can put strategies in place that allow you to shift your behaviour before it becomes a negative activity. The better you get at doing this the more you’ll be removing dissatisfaction from your life and the more time you’ll have to do other activities that add value for you.  


This piece orginally appeared in The Press


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Bevan Eyles