You drive home on a Friday afternoon and just as you walk in the doorway all your business thinking stays ON! You struggle to turn off the thinking mind all weekend and lower your level of rejuvenation. Monday you’re back at work, and your mind is feeling the lack of rest and relaxation because your mind was on high alert, thinking, thinking, and thinking. Over the years, I’ve coached entrepreneurs through their inability to manage internal distractions (thinking), and found these tools to work:
Schedule Time to Schedule Free Time. “The only effort needed is the effort to make less effort.” Free time is a necessity, not a luxury. Daydreaming can be a distraction during work hours when things need to get done, or you need to aware of what’s going on around you. Day-dreaming is simply out of place. You need to do this because it makes you feel alive. We teach entrepreneurs to schedule 2 days per month for Blue Sky Time to get acquainted with their ideas and thoughts, and daydream on steroids. Many of their daydreams are to become the essential realities of starting with the thought of bringing it into life. You plan your free days during maintenance days to prepare to create dynamic life experiences. By planning to plan, scheduling one maintenance day per week, your thinking and planning ahead will give structure to free days and impact how you spend them. In our program, we have clients use the QDB “Quarterly Day Blocking Worksheet” to set up their free time to maximize it.
Make room for the wildcard of life. Let go of worrying. Worrying does nothing to make things better. You worry because you fear the outcome of a situation going badly. You don’t want to hurt yourself or have someone hurt, so you flood your head with worst-case scenarios. Often times worry originates from assuming some control for what is happening, when in reality you may not have any control at all. Beneath any assumption of control is a deeper fear of the unknown. When you realize that life is precarious, and nothing stays the same, the impermanence of what life brings us helps you be ready for anything and expect nothing. Life is a wildcard; it cooperates with us at times and other times does not. You just have to accept that. Whatever the future needs is given to you in this moment. In the VIP Coach program, we teach clients a tool called the “MA” moment of awareness to take stock of what is going on within them and without.
You will never finish your to-do list. You’d rather have a few complaints and a great life, instead of a clean inbox and no hours left to enjoy life. Let go of having to do it all. You have to be selective and take risks. Let go of pleasing everyone. Your identity is not in their hands, nor is your balance in life. That’s in yours. Most calls or emails can be returned within 24-hours. Stop checking your email and phone, and leave it at home or just turn it off until your scheduled time to check it. Looking at it less during free time will help you keep a clear mind when you’re with your family. I don’t check my email over the weekend because I can’t get to it until Monday anyway, why worry about it until then. Keep a list of the top 20 people you want to interact with most and develop this quarter. Keep a close eye on how you’re impacting these people and when opportunities will close based on stats you can live by. In the VIP Coaching program, we teach clients a powerful tool called the “DAILY 6” to help them position their attention on what matters most to reach their goals and aspirations in their life and business plans.
Develop focusing as a habit. Focusing is narrowing your attention onto what matters most among equals. Knowing what matters means having a place to go. In other words, “what do you seek to create?” This is the definition of simplicity—having a hierarchy of importance in mind of what is most essential to you at a given moment. Having a place to go clears the mind of noise because anything you give attention to will most likely will relate to the thing mattering most.
Relax your attention. Too much intensity is bad for the mind. You can’t live without time to reflect and renew your energy. This is why you sleep at night. Without it you would cease to exist. During the day, schedule 3 pauses of 15-20 minutes each to indulge in free thought, meet your ideas and remain mindful of where your attention is going. By pulling back, you’ll be able to balance the macro and micro better, and slow down to speed up. Begin your day with a reflection ritual like a 30-minute walk or meditation to improve your capacity to remain present. We offer coaching clients 5 guiding meditations to choose from to implement in their daily rituals.
Practice the capacity to tell yourself the truth of what is actually going on. Your head will add meaning and interpretation to events and current circumstances. Instead, play the observer, who simply witnesses what is going on by separating from it like an artist does. Artists learn to observe their present stage of their creations. In fact, they must do this to know where their next steps are going, on behalf of what they’re creating. You must acknowledge progress from your starting point and your remaining distance to the end-point.
If you’re thinking negative or in self-doubt, pull back and ask: Is this fact or fiction? How do I know this is true? What if my thought is different than the actual state of things? Current reality is an acquired taste. Sometimes negative thinking is bad-mouthed and repressed when something truly negative exists. Knowing what is going on is crucial to being ready and prepared, especially if something going on requires reverence and respect for it. For example, I respect that the ocean is a big, and it is dangerous. To create a boat trip, I begin with the current state of the ocean. If it is rough, it isn’t good weather. I must know this to navigate to my destination. In our coach program, we have clients complete the “current conditions” worksheet to compare their “want thens” to their “have nows.”
When we analyze reality we often draw from the past, instead of staying in the present moment. We must remember that thoughts are composed of storage we’ve collected from the past. If we lay down our pre-existing frameworks, concepts, and beliefs about reality, we may lose sight of what is going on. Interestingly once we actually know what is going on, we become resourceful. Honesty has an energy-producing quality of summoning a next step or action from what is essentially the starting point of where to go from.
Build Super-Reserve Systems to lower your fear instinct. Whatever you tend to run out of invites you mind to distractions. Just thinking of what you might run out of: staff, supplies, computers working, money, etc. Build a super reserve in any area that you might run out. Make a list of where you’re always running out of and determine a first action or next to buy or build way more than you need.
Perfect an environment holds you like a crab is held by his exoskeleton. Everything you perform depends on an environment: an appliance, a space, lighting, an office. Build an environment to support you and grant power to it. My office environment looks like my head. I have words that remind me of what matters all over the wall. My environment holds me and permeates me in the way I function. I like to build an environment with repeatable places to put and find things. In our coach program, we have coaching clients perfect 2-3 environments per month to support them.
Eliminate tolerations before they consume you. We all have situations, people, things, aspects of our lives that we “put up with.” Tolerations are drainages of energy. I was tolerating a belligerent uncle at family gatherings and fearing confronting him. Then I decided to eliminate the toleration by asking him to refrain from talking down to me like he does and told him I’m not going to participate. Another one was a nick on my car hood that bothered me each day I walked by it. I eliminated it with a time and place and took action. Once you eliminate most of the tolerations, you free your mind up massively to focus on what really matters most.
Do what you say and finish what you start. If you’re often thinking about how big your responsibility is to pay your bills or debts, take action to pay off your debt by eliminating the toleration. But you can also focus on coming through on your goals as a means to lower your reactions and fears. When you organize your actions by your choices, not your circumstances, you liberate yourself to take cues from what matters, independently. Your point of reference isn’t how you feel; rather, it’s what must be done to create your goal. This requires a sequence of secondary and primary choices. The primary choice is the goal while the secondary one is the action of creating it. When you’re working on goals, not problems to eliminate, you’re in the creative process. Motivation is generated by what you have compared to what you want. You learn to use the gap as a positive pressure system to seek resolution.
Giving your mind good business to attend to is the manual override to a cluttered head. First have a place to go. What matters most to you? What do you want to create? Second what is going on right now compared to that? What is working and not working? And third, what next step or action would foster the outcome you seek. This structure can replace the motivation to make something unwanted go away, which is often the source of our internal turbulence. But when we see reality just as it is, we no longer place ourselves into structures that give rise to over-thinking. Obsessively thinking can become an addiction. An addiction is anything that we continue to do despite having negative consequences to the contrary. The only thinking necessary is pertinent to where you are and where you want to be.