Here are 8.5 personal insights that will help you achieve some original thought, reaffirm some existing thought, and maybe even get rid of a few unwanted thoughts…
1. Identify your NOW feeling and state of mind. What’s up? Happy? Sad? Afraid? Mad? It’s important that your mind at least be in “neutral” before you start the thinking process, and the more the needle leans toward happy and positive, the more productive and rewarding the thinking time will be.
2. Wake up and write. It doesn’t matter what it is, just write whatever comes to mind. Don’t force yourself to do it, just let words flow. As you think, capture your words.
3. Mentally go back to the house you grew up and picture yourself in each room one at a time. Stories will begin to pop into your head about what happened. Pick the fun ones and document them. This may even prompt you to call some people you love that you haven’t been in touch with recently.
4. Don’t write about your goals – focus on things you would like to achieve. Write a bucket list of places you must go before you die. Go online and find pictures of each one of them and paste it next to the place you want to go. Make it real. Going to India may be a place you want to visit, but putting a picture of the Taj Mahal makes it more real. After you have listed all the places, jot down a few things you MUST do. Maybe it’s run a marathon, or go to the library more often. Whatever it is, or they are, commit to it (or them) in writing. Add to the lists regularly.
5. Find a quiet place where you can be alone to write. Starbucks is not the best place. A park is better. I spend a lot of my time in parks and by water. Something about the sound of wind or the sound of the water is calming. Just an added note: I do not listen to music while I write, but if I did I would listen to light jazz or classical.
6. Don’t let your thoughts get away. Rather than dwell on them, write down the key words so you don’t forget. Thoughts are fleeting. If you wait one minute and then go back to it, it’s gone.
7. Write your biography. Just a short history of where you grew up, who you are, and what you did. Two or three paragraphs.
8. Write down what you love about work, what you hate about work, and what you wish were different at work. From that list (especially what you hate about it) you will begin to generate a few ideas. Write them down immediately and then let them sit for a day. Don’t just write the idea, write everything you are thinking about it. I refer to it as a brain dump. Having written more than 1,000 articles, they often come from frustration, not just ideas. And when I first think of them, I immediately write everything down that’s in my head, not in sentence format – just the ideas and words so I capture the thought and can go back and fill it inlater.
8.5 Write everything down at the end of your day. Before you go to bed at night clear your mind so you can dream and wake up with answers. You do this by writing your thoughts, your to-dos, your challenges, and maybe even your hopes and fearsbefore you go to bed. Once it’s written, you can forget about it. This will allow you to sleep like a baby and wake up with an uncluttered mind.
Please take advantage of your personal time. It will pass quickly. Try to invest as much of it as you can FOR YOURSELF. I’ll be doing the same.