30 Day Challenge: Can you do without TV?

I do a lot of things differently in an effort to enjoy my life. Sometimes I forget just how abnormal some of them are. This past week I co-instructed the IRA Association of America professional member enrollment course in Denver, CO. During a lunch conversation, one of our new members asked me what my secret is to accomplishing so much so rapidly. I half jokingly explained that I don’t watch TV. I guess this type of statement is more unbelievable than I had thought because a couple of hours later he still couldn’t believe it: “You really don’t watch any TV at all?”

“I don’t own a TV,” I explained. “I occasionally watch DVDs on my projector.”

I don’t watch TV for two reasons:

Mental & Physical Health – I believe that everything that goes into my body or mind becomes part of me. Turning on the TV means that I can choose to watch what’s available from a menu, but only if I also watch other things which I have no control over – commercials. Our thoughts create our reality. Having others’ thoughts shoved into my brain means letting other people create my reality.

Time – I want to enjoy my life. Every second is a decision. When I pit TV against snowboarding, snow skiing, wakeboarding, water skiing, bicycling, car racing, motorcycling, playing musical instruments, and traveling to new places… TV always loses. To afford some of these activities, I’ve had to work very hard in a field that I am very passionate about: investing. In that process, I’ve come to enjoy working, reading, writing, teaching, and learning. So any time I have the decision before me to watch TV or do any of these activities, I also choose against TV.

Years ago, as I first made the leap into entrepreneurship, my mentor forbade me to watch TV. He was a 30 year old self-made millionaire who I had agreed to follow without question.

Examining the effects of a specific behavior is only possible by contrasting it to its inverse behavior. In other words… I don’t think you could possibly understand the effect of watching TV unless you quit watching TV to have something to compare to.

The Challenge

Stop watching TV for 30 days.

Seriously. You wouldn’t be reading my blog if you weren’t out to accomplish something. What are you capable of accomplishing if you can’t do something as simple as not watch TV for a month? It may be hard, but it’s simple. If somebody in your household turns on a TV, go in the other room. Completely stay away from TV 100% for 30 days.

But what about the news?!

Anything life altering will be passed on to you from all your friends, family, and co-workers who watch TV every single day. I think you’ll find during this 30 days that nothing life altering will be reported anyways. The result? Instead of focusing on other people’s lives for several hours after work, you can pay more attention to your life.


This isn’t a TV reduction experiment. Don’t cut everything except your favorite 1 or 2 shows; cut everything.

This is an extremely simple task, and it will help you realize your willpower. For me, this was a first step in exercising my willpower into a muscle capable of accomplishing much more.

Magazines & Newspapers

To make the most of this test, eliminate magazines and newspapers as well. Before you start complaining about how absurd this is, you’ll need reasons. You can’t develop those until you experience both sides, and that is only possible by taking this challenge.

A 3 Step Program

  1. For 30 days eliminate TV watching and newspaper/magazine reading from your life.
  2. Come back here, and share your experience in the comments.
  3. [I’ll fill this in 30 days from now.]

Reader Interactions


  1. Hey Jeff,

    I completely agree. I haven’t watched TV in years. It’s absolutely fantastic.

    However, there is one warning: Fill that TV time with something productive and not another vice.

    The vice for me was computer gaming. I’ve changed since to listening to quality audio books, exercise, reading, and spending time with friends.

  2. I own a TV and a DVD player. Booth are severely underused and I don’t remember when I turned them on last… a month ago? I really don’t know, but I think I was listening to some music then.

    I agree with Hoo Kang – be careful of vices 🙂 Mine were TV shows I watched on my computer, entire seasons of them. But then I realised how much time I wasted.

    Just to give you an idea: 7 seasons of Smallville, each about 45 minutes long and about 22 a season = about 115 hours or almost full 5 days of my life. What have I to show for it?

  3. Thankfully that is not a difficult challenge for me. For most people it would be quite a challenge. They are conditioned to be entertained. You can see it by just observing what people are spending hours upon hours watching. It is easier to watch The Biggest Loser than to get off your butt and lose weight yourself. It is easier to critique The Apprentice then taking your own risk and starting a business yourself that would allow you to achieve some dreams. It is easier to watch some nanny discipline someone else’s kids than to to discipline your own. The TV in our house is on for Hannity and Colmes (Fox) in the evening just after I’ve invested three hours in time reading and studying. Growing. It takes conditioning to grow but once you give yourself a chance and turn off the tv you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

    Jeff Payne
    [email protected]

  4. I am simply a happy person without tv. TV influnences that glamorize murder, drunkeness and sex….much more happier with out these depressesent images filtered in my mind. I forgot how much I love the quiet.


  1. […] 30 Day Challenge: Can you do without TV? – I do a lot of things differently in an effort to enjoy my life. Sometimes I forget just how abnormal some of them are. This past week I co-instructed the IRA Association of America professional member enrollment course in Denver, CO. … […]

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