When you’re faced with a blank piece of paper, but your head’s full of thoughts and ideas, tasks, dates and appointments, dreams and goals, what can you do to ease the confusion? Where can you go for help? Here are four strategies we often use with coaching clients – we hope they support your thinking and decision making!
- Stream of consciousness writing – Grab a coloured pen of your own choosing, blank paper and set your timer for 10 minutes. Then just write. And write some more. Describe and capture any thought, idea or feeling that comes to mind. Think of this as the written form of meditation – not only will it free your mind of whatever’s plaguing it, but researchers have found it can also help excessive worriers calm their fears and complete stressful tasks more effectively. As soon as you write your thought down, let it pass and notice what comes to mind next. There are no tests, and no one will read this unless you choose to share it, so punctuation and grammar are irrelevant. What you write may not be logical, but it'll represent the ‘flow’ of what’s taking up your head space. Give it meaning later by reflecting, but for now just have the experience and see what clarity comes from just being in your own thoughts for 10 minutes. This can be a daily or once-off strategy. And while numerous studies show that writing by hand – rather than typing – improves brain function in a variety of ways, if you prefer a more tech-friendly platform to record your thoughts, try a journaling app like TagJournal. Alternatively, if you need motivation to keep writing, download Flowstate – an app that deletes everything if you stop typing.
- Head versus heart brainstorming – Do you most trust your thoughts or your feelings? We tend to favour either our head or heart when it comes to making decisions. If you're setting goals or considering implementing changes in your life, then your head and heart should play an equal role in your planning. Your head tells you what makes sense and is logical – it keeps you safe. Your heart tells you everything you might feel, from optimism to fear – this is also known as intuition. Follow this process before you make any choices. Draw a line down the centre of a blank piece of paper and capture everything your head is calling out on the left, and in the opposite column identify what your heart needs and feels.
- Find your strategic tribe – To help you set your goals and make decisions, surround yourself with people who want you to succeed in life, who'll challenge you to be more, and who understand your true potential. In The element, author Ken Robinson writes that by connecting with people who share your same passions and commitments, you can find your ‘element’ – and that finding your tribe can have transformative effects on your sense of identity and purpose. Your tribe extends beyond friends and family. They're people who'll point out your weaknesses and celebrate your wins. Identify those in your world whom you trust and who'll tell you the truth about how you're doing with everything from career to relationships. Your tribe should include a mentor who can guide you with sound advice, and a coach who can hold you accountable to be the best possible version of you. Make sure you have someone in your tribe who can be your number one fan and believes in you more than you do! With your tribe beside you, anything is possible.
- Honour the future version of you – When you're totally daunted by your to-do list and feel your goals slipping further out of reach, imagine yourself in two years. How much more will you know in five years? And then in 10 year – you'll be so wise! When you're planning your future success and happiness, consider what your future smarter/wiser/funnier/more experienced version of you would do. Tap into your very own inner wisdom by having a conversation with your future self. You know you best. The story of you has so many chapters, and your future self is calling. Write out specific questions you have relating to the goals you want to set now, and then sit quietly and imagine your future self replying to them. The best way to predict your future is to live it now. What advice does your future self have for you?
– The Coach Place Global
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