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8 Ways to become a Deliberate Thinker

Get the most out of your thinking

Your ability to think is your primary asset. There is only one thing which we have complete control over and that is our own thinking. Earl Nightingale revolutionized this concept in his audio “The Strangest Secret” when he said “You become what you think about.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “You become what you think all day long.” If thinking is so important wouldn’t it be great if we become better at this skill. Most of us don’t think of it as a skill and hence we take our thinking for granted. However it is your thinking aligned with exceptional action which will provide the impetus to move forward along the path of your dreams.

Here are 8 ways to super charge your thinking

  1. Write your major goals in life – The only way to start the thinking process is to first be clear on exactly what you want in life. As Wayne Gretzky said “You miss100% of the shots you don’t take.” Be crystal clear on what you want in your life. There has been a lot of talk about law of attraction which basically says you will attract into your life the things that are thought in your mind. Some people have taken this to the extreme to say think about money and it will happen. However for me you attract into your life only the things that you think and take action on. So take action on your thoughts to improve your life. Align your goals with your purpose in life whatever it may be. Sometimes we think purpose means we have to solve big things like world peace or hunger. While those are admirable our purpose could also be to build a great family, present our talent to the market place, bring more love into our lives and all this can be done without having a lot of fame.
  2. Keep track of your ideas – I find it easy to keep track of my ideas on the notes app in my iPhone. We get so many ideas but the reason we don’t take action on them is because we haven’t taken the time to write it down. Some of the ideas on writing articles for me have come about as the result of my thinking and noting the idea immediately on my notes app. Once you get the idea take immediate action. For example one article I wanted to write on A to Z of success came while I was driving to Boston. Within 10 minutes I noted it down and expanded each letter.
  3. Detach yourself from your day to day routine – We get our ideas not when we are working but when we are away detached from day to day activities. Allot one day in a week where you don’t do any work related activities and pursue a hobby you like. For me this is going to the book store to read, working out, running and writing. Usually when I am on the elliptical an idea pops out. This can also happen during a vacation when your mind is completely relaxed. For example past masters have worked hard on what they wanted but usually the idea comes later because of the internal processes of the mind. So you need the idea to incubate and the answer will seem like it is an intuition or a sudden occurrence but it actually was due to the great preparation you did for that idea to come forth. One example is Albert Einstein about whom I read in the wonderful book Mastery by Robert Greene. He says in May 1905 Einstein had given up the matter of thinking about relativity and the universe. He walked with a friend from the patent office explaining to him the dead end he reached. Just as he said this he suddenly realized he understood the key to the problem. It came to him in a sudden split of intuition but if we look at what he did prior to this insight that holds the key to any insight which is thorough analysis and preparation. I also read the book Einstein by Walter Isaacson which was phenomenal. If you want to get a quick primer on Einstein please read this wonderful article by Cory Galbraith It is not how smart you are.
  4. Practice solitude – I really struggle with this one. Basically this idea is to completely do nothing for 30-60 min and just let your mind wander. This is tough for most of us in our over stimulated world. We suddenly have the fear of missing out and something might be happening in social media. However if we detach ourselves and completely relax it generates ideas that can astound us. This has been advised by all wisdom thinkers and has a lot of merit. The best time to practice this is in the morning and if you get up early you can allot some dedicated time to think.
  5. Brainstorming – The best way to generate ideas is to be around other creative thinkers. Get around people who you consider creative and then start brainstorming with them. Our choice of role models have a strong effect on us so being around world class thinkers will eventually lead us to generate great ideas. Of course brainstorming also helps in formal settings in organizations where you need to generate ideas for revenue generation and increasing client opportunities. Another way to get great ideas is to read biographies of Steve Jobs, Einstein or Benjamin Franklin. Reading about great thinkers can spark great ideas.
  6. Find a dedicated place to think – I read about this suggestion from John Maxwell. You might have a specific room where you feel most peaceful. If that is the case then make sure you go to that room on a daily basis and spend some time there. The environment is a great stimulant for great ideas. I would also suggest have a dedicated time to think which could be early morning or late night for you. Once you go to your thinking place have a notepad with you and keep writing whatever comes to mind. There are no bad ideas. You can go to a park in the morning and just walk slowly allowing your mind to think. You can go to a beach and just allow the sound of the ocean to drop you into a state of deep relaxation which will stimulate your mind to think even better. Einstein even on the last night of his life was writing equations on his notepad. All creatives have a notepad next to their bed where they jot down every idea that comes to them so they never lose their line of thinking.
  7. Keep a journal – I have been writing in a journal for the last 5-6 years and the results have been great for me. I used to write daily but now I write once or twice a week. What I do is write what happened in the week, what went well, and what can be done better. This writing provides clarity to my life and I know where I am heading. Once I start writing about my week and what went well it triggers other ideas which are useful. I also write on anything that is occupying my mind and a journal can be the best place to dump your thoughts. Try that habit if you are not already doing so. This habit was followed well by Benjamin Franklin.
  8. Exercise – Vigorous aerobic exercise for 30-45 min releases endorphins and other pleasure chemicals which can supercharge your thinking. Also it releases BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which has been called the miracle growth for the brain. In fact students who exercise and then read are able to retain more of their learning. Any form of physical exercise is great for toning your thinking muscles. All past creative masters took long walks and one modern example of this is Steve Jobs. Walking is a great way to just to let your mind calm down and getting the most out of your thought processes. Playing organized sports is good but the thinking process generally gets better when you do something alone so find some alone time.

We all think but if we become deliberate thinkers our lives will become far more meaningful. Every great triumph was a result of great thinking by someone. That someone can be us if we choose to become a deliberate thinker. As Bertrand Russell said “Most people would die rather than think and many do.” Thinking is hard but it generates amazing results.

Thanks for reading this post. The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.

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