Purchasing a new item for yourself is generally accompanied by a rush of endorphins (or at least, that’s how it is for me).
Those feelings of happiness and excitement are even more pronounced when you’re purchasing something to better yourself.
It could be a new diet handbook, a foreign-language app…anything that promises to teach you something or help you improve in some way.
But there’s no point purchasing these products if you don’t end up using them…which leads me to the question: If you routinely fail to make use of such products, why buy them?
I don’t have the answer, but Mark Ford does…
How to Be an Information User, Not an Information Junkie
By Mark Ford
I hadn’t seen Dave in almost 20 years.
He was my dentist when we moved to Boca Raton in the early 1980s. He continued to take care of my wife and kids after we moved to Delray Beach 10 years later, but I opted for dental care closer to home.
Then, one day, Dave contacted me out of the blue.
‘How about lunch?’ he wrote in an email. ‘I’ve got a bunch of things I need to ask you.’
Several weeks later, we were having lunch together. We talked a bit about family news, but it was clear he had something else on his mind.
Eventually, he came out and mentioned a decision he was trying to make: Should he spend $100,000 on the highest level of an internet marketing program he had been looking at?
‘I’ve been studying their stuff,’ he told me. ‘It’s really good. But I’m not sure it makes sense for me to invest that kind of money.’
‘A hundred grand is a lot of money,’ I said.
‘But you get an awful lot for your money,’ Dave explained. ‘They do all the technical stuff for you, which I’m not very good at. All I’d have to do is come up with the ideas.’
‘What ideas do you have?’ I asked.
Dave didn’t have a single one. ‘All I know is that I am in the wrong business,’ he said. ‘I took this self-test online — and I found out I’m in the worst business in the world for me.’
At nearly 50 years of age, Dave had just concluded that his entire career had been a waste.
‘I’ve wanted to be a dentist since I was eight years old,’ he told me. ‘If I had known then what a bad business it was for me, I would have done something else.’
‘Like what?’ I asked.
‘Like what you do,’ he said. He was smiling, but he looked serious.
‘Look,’ I told him. ‘My business is a great business — but I don’t think you should conclude that your life has been wasted simply because you took some pop quiz that was probably designed to sell you something.’
‘But it was right,’ he insisted. ‘It proved something I had always known but was afraid to admit.’
The waitress filled our drinks. We ate in silence for a while.
‘So, what I’m thinking is that, since I’m not into the technical stuff, this internet marketing program would be very good for me.’
‘How much time have you invested in learning about internet marketing?’ I asked.
‘About three years,’ he answered.
‘And how many information products on the subject have you bought in that three-year period?’ I asked.
Dave laughed. ‘I can’t even count that high,’ he said.
‘How much money have you spent?’
‘Tens of thousands. Probably more.’
‘And yet, you haven’t actually started an internet marketing business,’ I said.
He nodded, and then rattled off the names of every internet marketing program he’d bought — all the ones that I knew and dozens of others I had never heard of.
‘You’re an information junkie,’ I told him.
‘What about you?’ he said. ‘I read that you read a lot of informational books — about one every week.’
‘I do,’ I said. ‘But I’m not an information junkie. I’m an information user.’
‘What’s the difference?’
I explained that the difference is huge. An information junkie is addicted to the process of buying information. Although he may delude himself into thinking otherwise, he has no intention of ever using the information he buys.
An information user is very practical about his purchases. He buys information for specific, pragmatic purposes. He uses the information he buys to achieve specific goals — to start or grow a business, to learn a new language, to improve his negotiating skills.
An information junkie is happiest at the moment he is buying the information. His enthusiasm soon wanes, however. Within hours or days of receiving it, the information junkie is on to other things. The new product goes up on the shelf with the old products. He’s excited about the next new one.
An information user makes progress. See him reading a book about nutrition, and there’s a very good chance (if he likes the book) that his eating habits will change in the immediate future. The information junkie, in contrast, may have 26 books about nutrition in his living room. He may have even read them all — while he was lying on the couch eating potato chips.
An information user is someone who consumes information to profit from it. If he invests $100 in learning about some subject, he expects to see a substantial return on that investment — perhaps a thousand dollars’ worth of value, material or spiritual. An information junkie consumes information like drugs or chocolate bars. It gives him an immediate rush and then nothing afterwards. That’s why he needs to buy more.
The information user has long-term expectations when it comes to knowledge. He believes the knowledge he acquires now will compound over time as he learns more and is in a better position to leverage what he has learned for a greater benefit. The information junkie is in it for the ‘here and now’. He doesn’t believe in saving. He’s always on to the next hot thing.
What about you? Are you an information junkie? Take this test and see.
Answer ‘yes’ if you agree with the statement below, or ‘no’ if you don’t:
- In the past year, I’ve purchased more than 12 books that I haven’t read. (If your answer is yes, give yourself two points.)
- In the past year, I’ve purchased:
- Only information products (such as investing newsletters) that I have used. (Yes = one point.)
- Between one and three $100 information products that I haven’t used. (Yes = two points.)
- Between three and five $100 information products that I haven’t used. (Yes = three points.)
- More than five $100 information products that I haven’t used. (Yes = five points.)
- In the past year, I’ve purchased at least one $1,000 information product that I didn’t use. (Yes = five points.)
- I am most excited about the information that I buy:
- When I am ordering it. (Yes = three points.)
- When I receive it. (Yes = two points.)
- When I begin using it. (Yes = one point.)
- When I read a book, I feel compelled to read it from cover to cover. (Yes = two points.)
- I generally take notes when I read something. (Yes = one point. No = two points.)
Well…how did you score?
If you scored eight or above, you are indeed an information junkie.
If this is the case, don’t despair. You can convert yourself into an information user simply by following two rules:
- When you buy an information product, set specific deadlines for reading it and implementing what you learn. For instance, set a goal that you will take one of its recommended actions within 24 hours of receiving the product. Then resolve to take at least one more recommended action each week thereafter.
- Don’t buy another product until you have made some progress with the one you previously purchased.
That’s all there is to it. Obey these two rules, and you’ll not only break your addiction, you also radically improve your life.
Thanks, Mark. You’ve inspired me to crack open some of those cookbooks gathering dust in my kitchen cupboard!
For Markets & Money
Editor’s Note: Mark has spent more than three decades dispensing wisdom like this…and now he’s compiled it into the most comprehensive wealth-building program in existence…
It’s called the Wealth Builders Club. It includes everything from extra income blueprints (which have the potential to generate thousands of dollars per month) to investment strategies outside the stock market, plus several of Mark’s bestselling books. Click here to learn more.