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How to Find the Answers (Even If You Don`t Have A Clue)

How to Find the Answers (Even If You Don`t Have A Clue)

“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance.” Albert Einstein

To translate Albert Einstein’s beautiful quote to something we can chew on, I propose this — if you can ask yourself difficult questions and make yourself think, you will find all the answers within yourself.

Very recently, I’ve come to make huge life-altering decisions in only a few days. That’s not to say I didn’t think through them carefully — it’s actually because I thought through them so carefully and asked myself the right questions that I am able to make these decisions confidently.

For example, a few days ago, I decided to reshuffle the responsibilities and roles at my startup. It was a huge decision to make, but I did it happily after answering questions like:

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  • Why haven’t I done this already? What pain do I avoid in delaying this?
  • What will it feel like after I’ve made this decision? What pleasure will I enjoy in making the jump?
  • Does this decision feel liberating — or limiting?

These questions may seem trivial to you, but sitting down to put these ideas on papers made me face the facts — I was avoiding this out of pure fear. It was time to make a change, and I’m very happy with the result — because I got cozy with difficult questions long enough to hammer out the answers I knew all along.

Finding the Answers — Your Action Plan

If you want to find the answers within yourself, here are the steps I suggest for attacking the toughest questions:

1. Be open to questions and to figuring it all out.

Becoming more self-aware is critical to solving problems, but being open to that self-awareness is vital.

Without making the decision to become open and honest about finding the answers, the water will run through the tubes, but the faucet won’t let any of it trickle out. It’s easy to become closed off from introspection and questioning.

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If I hadn’t decided to truly question myself and face my answers with conviction and the desire to make a change, I probably would not feel as liberated and purposeful as I do right now. It’s scary, I admit. But it’s also incredibly exhilarating.

2. Find the right questions.

Sometimes, the right questions can come from a family member inquiring about our decisions — not fun, but certainly valuable. Other times, though, the right questions come in the form of resources we hadn’t really considered.

When I was writing a book proposal a few months ago, I didn’t know where to begin. After some serious Google searching, I found a great resource to start soul-searching — a workbook by Danielle LaPorte. This amazing workbook asked me a series of questions that helped me think through my proposal, structure it, and get down on paper what I already had floating around my mind. I knew what I wanted to write about, but the workbook helped me make it concrete.

Since that experience, I’ve come across many worthwhile workbooks on the web. I’ve even been inspired enough to develop my own iPhone app (called QuestionUp) to ask the right questions for each type of problem.

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It’s an amazing experience when a workbook, an app, or even a friend asks you a question that stumps you — and then inspires you.

3. Sit down to think through the answers.

The format you prefer depends on your personal taste — and your mood. Sometimes, I use pen and paper, but other times I use an app. The important string that holds them all together is the desire to be at peace with the process of answering each question.

(Tip: For those who can’t disconnect completely, I recommend software to help you block certain websites — or block your entire internet connection! It really helps me focus when I can’t do it on my own.)

Whether I sit down with a notebook, my laptop, or an app, the process is always the same. Each question crashes over me like a wave, but then smooths out and leaves me with serene waters and a lighter heart — ready for the next one.

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All in all, I find looking within ourselves and searching for our own answers is a resource many do not appreciate. Before you look outside of yourself today, take a moment to look inside. It’s amazing what you might find.

Is there a technique you use to find all the answers within yourself? If you know of any good resources, please share them in the comments!

Featured photo credit: checked the box by symbol of tick in selection via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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