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12 Things You Never Knew On How To Think Effectively

12 Things You Never Knew On How To Think Effectively

Effective thinking is something that can be practiced and developed over time. Everything begins and ends with the brain-heart connection. How you think either connects or disconnects the two. Here are some ways to think effectively that you never thought could be so easy.

1. Identify and reverse negative core beliefs.

“I’m not good enough.” “I don’t deserve this.” We’re all influenced by our past experiences and when we attach negative labels to them, we subconsciously bring them into our present reality. Think effectively by reversing the negative into a positive and letting that play repeatedly in your thoughts.

2. Powerful words trigger powerful thinking.

“I’m going to try this.” Where’s the power in this statement? Reword it. “I’m going to master this technique and gain customers.” Use powerful words that set you up for success in your thinking. Merely ‘trying’ something isn’t motivating. ‘Mastering’ something is very motivating. Think effectively—and powerfully. Powerful thinking promotes powerful action.

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3. When it all comes down to it, you are what you think. 

So if you think you’re a failure, you don’t deserve success or happiness, or you’re not good enough, your subconscious mind is going to steer you in the direction of what you’re thinking. To think effectively you have to think in ways that steer you toward success.

4. When failure or crisis ensues, always think, “What is the lesson here?”

Remember, everything begins and ends with the brain-heart connection. Find a valuable lesson that you can profit or benefit from in every traumatic event. That way, when you look back on the situation, you view it as a learning experience, not a traumatic, negative event. Try to find happiness in everything.

5. When you stop a project to think about it, make sure you start it again. 

So many great ideas are abandoned because of hesitance or procrastination. When you find yourself at a standstill in the middle of a project and you’re hesitating, go back to point #1. Find the belief that’s stalling you, reverse it, add some power words and dive right back in.

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6. Thinking too much promotes stagnation. 

So think like this: Thought…Idea…Vision…Action. Take your thoughts and form an idea. Really visualize the entire idea coming to fruition in your mind. Now, take the steps to make that idea happen.

7. You can’t want something and have it at the same time.

A very valuable money coach taught me this concept and when I realized it, I became unstuck. When you’re so busy wanting something, all of your thought processes encompass that desire, that longing. You find yourself saying something like, “I have no idea how, but I have to have that.” Instead, go to point #6. Take that want, turn it into an idea, envision it clearly and take action to get there. Changing your focus to the status of ‘having’ psychologically triggers the mind to take the necessary steps to get it, instead of remaining in a state of envy.

8. Use psychological triggers to keep your brain and your heart on the same wavelength. 

For example, in your heart you know you need to set up a budget. But your brain is saying, “It’s useless, you’ll always be broke.” Don’t give in…reverse your brain’s thought. Think about how much less stress you’ll have when you know exactly how much you have to spend and where to spend it. This aligns your brain and your heart and motivates you to set up a budget and stick to it. The psychological trigger is less stress.

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9. Before becoming hurt or offended by a friend’s actions or words, look at their heart. 

Generally, by looking at someone’s heart, you gain a deeper understanding as to their reaction. The result is that it brings forgiveness much more easily and saves your energy for creativity instead of anger and resentment.

10. Check your motives!

Before you speak or act, make sure what you’re thinking is your opinion and not your friend’s/boss’s/partner’s etc. When you’re thinking, make sure they’re your true, unbiased thoughts and that you’re not seeking approval or being influenced by others.

11. Don’t bury icky thoughts.

When you catch yourself pushing an uncomfortable thought or feeling away…don’t. Even if it has a negative emotion attached to it. Let it come all the way up to the surface. Sit in it for a few minutes and truly feel the emotion. Feel it, face it…and let it go. Don’t suppress icky feelings, because they always rear their ugly head in moments of stress and cause you to act and do things that you’ll regret later.

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12. Focus on right now…this very moment. 

Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Just right now. It’s all you have…it’s all that matters. This way your actions in the present moment aren’t as likely to be dictated by past experiences. This is the most powerful tool to help you to think effectively.

By practicing these simple techniques every single day, you will master effective thinking and soon see improvements in your work, your creativity and your relationships. Remember, it’s all about aligning the brain and the heart so they don’t contradict each other.

Want more effective thinking tips? Learn 6 things highly effective leaders do differently.

Featured photo credit: http://mrg.bz/AIQYoE via mrg.bz

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

Regardless of how creative you already consider yourself to be, there’s a good chance you would like to level up your creative abilities.

You might want to write a better song, think of better solutions to problems at work or around the home or maybe paint a picture.

In any case, the good news is that creativity is not born: it’s made, and each one of us has the potential to be more creative and come up with incredible ideas.

“Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The definition of creativity is broad, and reminds us that creativity is not limited to artists or musicians. It does however require that we have some kind of impact on the domain in which we create.

Creativity also emphasizes values.

“The process of having original ideas that have value” — Ken Robinson

This makes up for what Csikszentmihalyi misses out. For instance, we can make a change in the world without adding significant value. Any destructive act, like smashing a window, creates change, but it doesn’t necessarily create valuable change.

In short, there isn’t one single definition of creativity It’s up to us to find a definition that feels true and useful. When you know what your standard is, It’s much easier to embrace creativity and start to cultivate it.

And in this article, you will learn how to be more creative and take a good look at what goes into the creative skill:

1. Cultivate Focus

In order to create, there needs to be a focus on creating something, whether it’s a song, a theory, a product, or a sculpture.

You could also call this “drive” – it’s the initial spark that drives the solution to a problem, or the will to get on your laptop and start typing.

However, it’s worth noting there are different stages to the creative process: the divergent stage and the convergent stage.

In the divergent stage, we want a broad focus – we want to be willing to let in lots of different inputs, ideas and insights. This is the time for brainstorming all possible ideas and solutions.

In the convergent stage, we start to narrow our focus, like a camera lens. At this stage, we start to drill down to a handful of ideas or solutions, discriminating throughout the process.

How to cultivate focus?

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Take a 20 Minute Walk

Walking away and getting your heart rate up is the best free tool you have in regaining your focus.

I know it might seem counterintuitive to take a break right when you’re at your busiest, and especially when you’re drowning in your massive to do list, but the effects it will have on your clarity and ability to focus are undeniable.

Walking is physiologically proven to release stress, and clear your mind. In fact, most of my most brilliant ideas (and some pretty terrible ones too) have occurred on my daily walks.

If you give this technique a try, what you’ll find is that you’re much more productive than you were before you took a breather.

Over time, if you do these walks daily, you’ll quickly find that your to-do list starts to feel a lot less significant, and a lot more doable. It’s all about keeping razor focused, and that’s what short daily walks will gift you.

2. Build a Structure

When I wake up in the morning, I start the day with a structure in mind. I know that 15 minutes will be dedicated to meditation, 30 minutes to coffee and reading, 20 minutes to yoga and so on.

The structure of this morning routine might be boring, but the act of each task in itself has the potential to be, on some level, “creative.”

The point of structure is that it gives you the space to make time for something you want to do. It helps you carve out the time to do your creative work. Once you begin that thing in itself, you are free to go about it however you’d like.

Without structure, we can lose focus and can feel overwhelmed with possibility. If you’ve ever looked at a blank page and felt too overwhelmed with possibility to make a mark on it, you’ll know what I mean. How much easier it gets when you are given some guidelines or a deadline?

The trick is finding the right amount of structure for you and your creative needs. Too little structure and we feel overwhelmed. Too much structure, and we risk feeling limited and stifled.

Again, it’s worth thinking about creating in those two stages: divergent (less structure) and convergent (more structure.)

How to build a structure?

Create a Morning Routine

Your morning routine doesn’t have to be rigid or so arduous you dread waking up. In fact, it should feel like the opposite. When you get a routine that works for you, you’ll look forward to starting the day.

We all have different needs and preferences which can shape our ideal routine. In the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, you can be inspired over 160 different creators’ daily routines, from Charles Darwin to Pablo Picasso.

Experiment with any that take your fancy, and see how you feel with a bit more structure to start your day.

You can also take a look at this article about morning routine for inspirations: The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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3. Find Motivation

There is a theory that suggests: people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. This is also known as intrinsic motivation; a drive that comes from within.

Think of a time when you did some of your best work — chances are you were totally absorbed in what you were doing, to the exclusion of everything else. You were completely focused on the work itself, barely noticing time flying by.

Now think of a time when you felt under pressure to perform. Maybe it was an exam, or a commission for an important client, or maybe your boss had told you “there’s a lot riding on this.”

Notice the difference? In the first memory, you were driven by intrinsic motivation, which made it relatively easy, even enjoyable, to be highly creative.

In the second memory however, extrinsic motivation was breathing down your neck, distracting you by whispering about the rewards for success and the horrible consequences of failure: likely making it harder to focus on the task at hand.

For this reason, intrinsic motivation, if you can find it, is what separates the good from great creative work.

This isn’t to say only internal motivators help. I personally get motivated by luring myself to work with a good cappuccino at my favourite cafe. That will get me ready to write or edit or whatever I’ve been avoiding.

How to find motivation?

Connect to Your “Why”

Your “Why” is your fuel: the thing that drives you forward, that gives you a reason to do what you’re doing.

‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ — Friedrich Nietzche

When you have a reason to do something, a purpose or a goal that matters to you, you can connect your daily actions to it. Then, each act becomes infused with meaning and you find that intrinsic motivation comes naturally.

The trick is to remember your “why” and connect with it on a regular basis.

Think about how you want to feel on a daily basis. What would you like to accomplish in the next year? What would you like for yourself in the next five years? How about in your lifetime?

Ultimately, the tasks you face on a daily basis, or at least some of them, will connect to a greater purpose if you follow this path and you will find you feel more motivated to create and less resistance.

If you aren’t sure where to start looking for motivation, this will help: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

4. Be an Expert in a Chosen Domain

Research has shown that just as expertise in one domain does not predict expertise in other unrelated domains; creativity in one domain does not predict creativity in other unrelated domains.[1]

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So just because you can paint a pretty picture, doesn’t mean you can creatively solve a mathematical problem.

If you’ve taken one of those tests like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, which will ask you to think of a bazillion uses for a pencil, and scored well, unfortunately this is only an indicator of divergent thinking skills. It is not a predictor for creativity all round.

The good news is, you can train your creativity in your chosen domain. Much like a muscle, you can isolate exercises to strengthen it.

Of course you can still do a total body workout – or atotal creativity workout – but it means your creativity-training exercises need to come from a wide variety of domains; not just thinking up uses for a pencil.

How to become an expert?

Make a Mastery Training Plan

Following our physical workout analogy, it’s worth applying the habits of great athletes to your chosen creative domain. For example:

1. Decide what area/s you want to work on

Much like a tennis player who decides they need to improve their serving technique, you can decide what area within your creative domain you want to improve at. Get specific.

2. Decide how much time you can dedicate

Most of us don’t have all day to train like a pro tennis player might, but you can likely squeeze 20 to 30 minutes in a day, if you want to. Whatever the time you can allow is, decide to dedicate yourself to it.

3. Review your progress

Finally, in order to check your progress, you can take regular reviews. Decide what your metrics are, and take time each week to check in with yourself.

How many days did you practice? How did you compare to the previous week? This kind of review can help you stay on track, and actually creates more intrinsic motivation as you see yourself develop.

5. Create a Conducive Environment

A psychologist in 1943 proposed that behaviour is:[2]

“a function of both the person as well as the physical environment they are in.”

I would suggest that the act of creating is a behaviour and that, even though it begins as an internal process, it’s very much affected by and even dependent on the environment we are in.

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I started noticing how environment affects me when I worked in an office. Over time, I realized that the more people who were in or who were talking, the more distracted I was. If I got to the office early before my coworkers arrived, I was twice as effective.

I was even more effective if I was at home. Now that I work from home, I know I’m even more effective when in certain coffee shops. Ideally, places that have high ceilings, gentle lighting, some barely noticeable background music – and excellent coffee.

It’s these little variations in our environment that can really shape our creative output.

If you’re an introvert, you probably do your best work alone. If you’re an extrovert, you probably do your best work in the company of others.

This isn’t to say you should find one way of doing things and stick to it: in fact, varying your environment from time to time is a great way to stoke the creative fire too, which we’ll touch on more later.

How to create a conducive environment?

Add or Subtract Stimuli

Novelty in our environment has been shown to stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases our desire to seek out reward.[3]

If you’re looking for creative motivation, adding some novelty into your environment can be just what you need.

On the other hand, some people are highly sensitive and when it comes to having too much stimulation in their environment, they find it difficult to focus.

Experiment with working in different environments. Note how you feel. Note whether you do better creative work or have more interesting ideas when you’re alone or with others.

Try listening to music, people chatting or try being in complete silence. Try a dimly lit room, try working in bright sunlight.

In each case, note how you feel before, during and afterwards and rate the quality of your work.

The Bottom Line

Creativity is not one particular skill or talent one can have. It comes in as many broad and unique flavors as there are people on this earth.

To be more creative, take little steps each day. Acknowledge where and when you feel most inspired, motivated and original and spend more energy in those areas.

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Featured photo credit: Sticker Mule via unsplash.com

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