“There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Two common reasons why people struggle to build a successful online business:

  • They don’t believe it’s possible.
  • They don’t have enough time.

I’ve written about these issues before but today I want to address what might be the biggest root cause for both: watching the news.

What is “the news”?

I’m referring to traditional news from traditional media, reporting on stories which are predominantly depressing or shocking:

Newspaper on fire

  • Job losses
  • Natural disasters
  • Crime
  • Celebrity scandals
  • Etc.

If you want to build a successful online business, that’s the type of news you should stop watching, reading and listening to.

Why?

Because reasons…

7 Reasons Why You Should Stop Watching The News

The news is depressing

Many news outlets try to throw in a few positive or cute stories every now and then, but I’d estimate that the ratio of negative to positive stories for the vast majority of them is at least 9:1.

So every time you watch or read the news, you’re feeding yourself an overwhelming amount of negativity which infects your thoughts.

Man reading business newspaper

Napoleon Hill wrote about the power of our thoughts in Think and Grow Rich:

Our brains become magnetized with the dominating thoughts which we hold in our minds, and, by means with which no man is familiar, these “magnets” attract to us the forces, the people, the circumstances of life which harmonize with the nature of our dominating thoughts.

In other words, the predominant thoughts you allow into your mind actually affect your reality.

Knowing this, I’m not sure why anyone would subject themselves to all the negativity in the traditional news media.

Not when optimism is such a crucial ingredient to success in life and business.

If you really want your news fix, ditch the negative stuff and subscribe to some positive news sources instead.

The news is a poor representation of reality

At this point you might raise an objection:

“But Niall, you’re just ignoring the real issues, deluding yourself to believe that the world is all sunshine and rainbows. That’s not realistic!”

Yes, I guess you could say I’m deluding myself, but no more than those people who do watch the news. I’d argue that their view of the world is just as skewed, if not more so.

They’re led to believe that the world is a brutal and heartless place. All that bad news breeds fear and distrust. Aspiring entrepreneurs have the wind knocked out of them by daily reports of economic crisis and companies gone bust.

CNBC: Economy not as strong as many believe
Above: This kind of news won’t help you build a business.

News consumption engenders the belief that failure lurks around every corner. Don’t take any risks, better to play it safe!

That’s not the world I want to live in.

In fact, it’s a world I can’t afford to live in when my goal is to build a successful online business.

Now I’m not advocating that you avert your eyes whenever you walk by a TV tuned to CNN, or recoil from every newspaper like a vampire from sunlight.

  • What I am suggesting is that you stop going out of your way to invite all that negativity into your life in the first place.

Everything in the news is beyond your circle of influence

“It is imperative that you learn to ignore or redirect all information and interruptions that are irrelevant, unimportant, or unactionable. Most are all three.” – Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek

Pretty much all the issues reported on TV and in the newspapers are beyond your circle of influence.

You can’t help solve the problems in the outer circle, and so it’s a waste of your time and energy to worry about them.

You’d be infinitely better off using that time and energy to solve problems in your own life and business (ie within your circle of influence).

I look at it like this:

  • Watching the news does nothing to move me closer to my goals, and anything that isn’t moving me closer is holding me back, so I ditch it.

You don’t need to stay informed

The most common response I hear to the above arguments goes something like this:

“I watch the news to stay informed. I like to know what’s going on in my area and around the world.”

First of all, I’m not sure how anyone can “like” absorbing information that affects their thoughts and emotions in a negative way. That’s certainly not my idea of a good time.

But let’s address this idea that you might be “uninformed” and “miss out” if you don’t keep up with the news.

Say you didn’t watch any news television, listen to any news radio or read any newspaper for a whole year.

CNBC news television

What would be the worst thing that could happen if you managed to avoid all that?

Would your business suffer?

I very much doubt it.

A far more likely outcome is that your business would become more successful than ever due to the lack of distraction and less pessimistic influences.

You’ll never know it all anyway

Even if you try your best to stay up to date with all the latest news, you’ll still fall well short of knowing everything.

There is so much happening in the world and so much written about it, that the most you can hope to learn is “a lot about a little.”

Henry Ford knew this well.

During World War I, Ford sued a Chicago newspaper for libel after they referred to him as “an ignorant pacifist.”

Henry Ford with 1921 Model T
Above: Henry Ford with 1921 Model T (image credit: cea + on Flickr)

As part of their defense, the newspaper’s attorneys set out to prove that Ford was indeed ignorant by putting him on the stand and asking him a series of general knowledge questions.

Ford admitted that he couldn’t answer most of them, but noted that he had the means to, with the touch of a button, summon to his aid people who could supply any knowledge he desired.

What then, would be the use of him cluttering up his mind with such information?

You can catch up quickly if you need to

To find information nowadays, you don’t have to be rich and connected like Henry Ford, because, luckily, there’s this thing called the internet that levels the playing field.

Thanks to Google, rather than letting all kinds of unfiltered and irrelevant information find and consume you – as is the case when you browse news websites – you can search for specific information relevant to your situation.

Get in, get what you need, get out.

As Napoleon Hill wrote when recounting the Ford story in Think and Grow Rich:

An educated person is not necessarily one who has an abundance of general or specialized knowledge… Any person is educated who knows where to get knowledge when it is needed and how to organize that knowledge into definite plans of action.

Consuming the news takes time

This is probably the biggest reason of all to stop watching the news.

  • Every hour you spend reading or watching the news is an hour you could spend building your online business!

Instead of getting all depressed watching talking heads discuss the latest economic crisis on the evening news, you could be doing proactive things like:

Those kinds of activities would surely serve you much better.

Beyond The News

Now that you understand the foolishness of watching the news, I hope you’ll take action to reduce your information intake.

And hey, if your goal is to build an online business, consider signing up to our eBiz Weekly newsletter.

We wade through multiple news sources each week and pick out the most helpful and inspiring stories and resources to help you build your online business.

Join 3,904 other people who’ve happily replaced mainstream news sources with our value-packed newsletter.

Do you still watch the news?

If so, why?

Let me know in the comments below.