I recently read an article in Fast Company about a married couple who started a Minneapolis-based chain of clothing boutiques for mothers called Hot Mama. The store is aptly named, as it carries more than 200 brands, but no mom jeans or sweatpants. The idea for creating a place where women can get help finding clothes that fit them perfectly while their kids are kept happily entertained by toys, coloring books and video games had been percolating in the mind of Megan Tamte for quite some time.
And then came a small rebellion:
Hot Mama remained just that — an idea — for years as Megan spent her days as a stay-at-home mom. Her “aha” moment came during an episode of American Idol. “I was watching other people make their dreams come true instead of chasing my own,” she says. “I just realized, ‘This is really dumb!’ I don’t watch TV anymore.”
When the average American spends five hours a day watching television, making a conscious decision to turn it off is a small rebellion indeed.
America has long been known as the Land of Opportunity, the place where you can make your dreams come true. And despite our current economic challenges, it still is.
Now I’m not anti-television at all. I have a high-definition big screen that I enjoy very much. But Kim and I are very mindful of how often it’s on, and we’re trying to make it even less. We’ve resisted getting a Tivo because we’re weary of a machine creating a to-do list of shows that we’ll feel obligated to keep up on.
I’m not sure what an ideal number of viewing hours is, but I can’t help but wonder: has anyone who watched several hours of television a day ever accomplished anything great? I just can’t imagine Martin Luther King, Jr. or Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or Mother Theresa or Nelson Mandela or Oprah Winfrey or Walt Disney sitting on their couches watching their favorite shows every day.
That because they didn’t.
And, although she used to, now Megan Tamte doesn’t either.
Important note: although Oprah and Disney have spent a great deal of time ON television, I guarantee you they didn’t spend a whole lot of time WATCHING it.
Because they were too busy making their own dreams come true.
And another interesting thing to consider: because each of the people listed above worked on chasing their own dreams, their success has helped countless others to achieve theirs.
What could you accomplish if you watched less TV? Why, you could:
- Write that thriller novel.
- Chart that family tree.
- Train for your first marathon.
- Build that home for people in need.
- Create the next big web application.
- Mentor those kids who have no role models.
- Find your Prince Charming.
- Begin to take your art seriously.
- Fight to make the school system better.
- Learn how to cook like Bobby Flay.
- Start that million dollar business that until now, has only been an idea in your head.
I know, watching less TV seems like such an overly simplistic, minor and trivial thing to do. But then again, small rebellions always do.
But I am convinced, with respect to the President of the United States and Staples, the most powerful button in the world is the one on your remote control that turns your television…off.
What small rebellion have you witnessed or initiated recently?
I couldn’t agree more! It is good to not feel bound by the box. My hubby is addicted to the nightly weather report, but thankfully it only goes for 10 minutes and helps us decide which dream to follow that week (surfing, homemaking, hosting guests, travel …)
The weather report s a weird thing to be addicted to, but at least that’s better than the other stuff usually on the news. Nightmare fodder if you ask me! :)
Exactly the thought that has most recently been in my head! Now just to narrow down all the ideas itching to get out of me so that I can start somewhere!
Why not try writing them all down, putting them in a hat, and picking one out? That could be super fun!
After decades of resisting keeping up with the TV Joneses, we finally upgraded to a nice HD set last Christmas. However, I didn’t use to watch much TV before that, and I still don’t, since I need all the free time I can get after work, gym and family to make my dream of building a comic and span a new career out of that come true – just like you did, in a way. :)
However this also means that when I decide to watch something on TV -most likely, a movie- I’m setting out that time to really enjoy whatever I’m going to watch and the quality of our new TV, which makes it all more worthwhile.
Yeah, Kim and I have had a mantra lately of quality over quantity. We don’t want a lot of stuff cluttering the place up, but we’d like for the stuff we do have to be nice :)
Josh Bulloc says
I am not one of those people that mindlessly watches TV but I have to admit that I get addicted to certain shows (like Lost). This last year some of my favorite shows ended and I was excited because I could feel free from needing to watch them. Now I have only 1 show I watch each week. To keep myself entertained I now read books; they are so much better because I can pick them up or put them down when I wish.
Kansas City, MO
How can I help?
We’re in the same boat, Josh. A lot of our favorites have gone off the air (Ed, Scrubs, Arrested Development, Numbers, etc.) and it has turned out to be an unexpected benefit, as we now have fewer shows competing for our attention. Fortunately, we haven’t added a ton of shows to replace them, which is the key :)
Ali Manning says
I love this idea – stop watching other people make their dreams comes true and get off the couch to pursue your own.
I find most of these shows totally unrealistic. They never spur people to real action. Oftentimes they make it look too easy – a whole house get renovated in a 30 minute show with the help of oodles of money and a crew. I have friends who are addicted to cooking shows, but never cook at home – go figure? Sometimes it’s easier to watch others do things than invest the hard work and time to make it happen for ourselves. And is it really in the interests of the shows and advertisers for us to turn off the TV set and go pursue these dreams anyway? They want us to keep coming back for more.
I haven’t watched TV for years now and while I sometimes feel out of the loop when my friends are talking about the latest show or funny ad, I don’t sweat it too much. I prefer to spend my evenings reading books or other online resources, such as great blogs like this one :)
I’m sure you probably do feel out of the loop sometimes, Ali. But I’ve found that even without watching TV, you eventually become aware of the important stuff. And the rest of the other stuff, isn’t. Thanks for hangign out with us here!
Turning the t.v. off for 21 days is one of the personal challenges I have lined up for myself on my blog. It seems like it’s going to be one of the tougher challenges even though I don’t watch very much. I LOVE a good sit-com and laughing out loud. I’ll miss that!
Holy cow! Tough challenge, Marnie! How’s it going so far?
Haven’t started the t.v. one yet but Monday I start my “no sugar” challenge. Yikes!
Holy cow. You must be a glutton for punishment (I mean self improvement :)