In the past when I needed to carve out time to be focused, with the purpose of focusing and critically thinking about something, I would procrastinate with the best of people out there. I soon came to realize why I was challenged with doing this and was able to make adjustments in my life to address this. Doing so opened an entirely new world and way of thinking for me, and I now cherish being able to take the time to sit and think.
I’m the first to admit that being focused isn’t one of my specialties, but I have come to realize that when I do focus and take the time to decompress, wonderous opportunities and things begin to happen. This may not seem hard to do, or special, but the reality is that the society we are living in shares my challenge of being focused. I know this to be true both scientifically, as well as via personal and professional experience.
This morning I was talking to a well known interior designer who specializes in reimagining hotels. The type of hotels that when you go to them, they transport you to a different world, and in a very good way. I asked him how he got into this specialty area, and surprisingly he ventured into it almost by accident. When he was in his early twenties, he was given the opportunity to work with a renowned interior designer who didn’t realize he was in the presence of an absolute diamond in the making. Fortunately for the experienced designer, it didn’t take him long to realize the young designer wasn’t like anyone else they had encountered before. This was a good thing.
The element about the new designer which made him so special, was the fact he had an uncanny amount of confidence, combined with a veil thin filter about what he was thinking and then saying. At first, he thought he wouldn’t be able to get away with canceling his mind and auditory filter, but upon testing it, he realized his authenticity and vulnerability combined with his innate and magical design skills would serve him extraordinarily well.
One part of our conversation involved me asking him about what his method was to determine a signature scent for a hotel. Naturally this would require some thinking to accomplish, and I was on the edge of my proverbial seat waiting to hear his answer, and he did not disappoint me with what he shared. In essence, the way he goes about making this determination is that he leverages all the senses to come up with being able to articulate what the custom scent should be. He walked me through this process in much greater detail, and I feel like I had the honor of unlocking a mystery I had been wondering about how scents are created for years.
Ironically, part of the reason I am writing about this topic is that I am taking some time off to have time to think, and to celebrate my birthday too. However, I didn’t expect to have such a fascinating conversation with someone in a profession I have always admired and been fascinated with, and secretly thought one day I would go into. So, in some respects, the conversation I had with the designer is both a surprise birthday gift, as well as an opportunity to think about why and how much joy I experienced having this conversation. If I didn’t take the time post this conversation to appreciate how invigorating the conversation was, and how much I learned about the design world in the span of less than an hour, I would be regretful of not doing this at some point.
All of us are busy, but I expressed during our conversation how I take a non-negotiable one hour a week to write. I realized thinking about this afterwards about expressing this, that as I am writing, I am also having to simultaneously think about what I am going to express. What you might not know is that my writing style is what I will classify as stream of consciousness, but I am putting it into a format I can share with others.
When I first started sharing my writing and style with others, it was intimidating to do so. This was because I was concerned about being judged for how I was thinking about and expressing my thoughts. However, I soon realized I needed to become confident and not be concerned about what others thought, and get on with focusing on expressing myself via my writing. I also realized that writing gave me great satisfaction, and I wasn’t about to let anyone take this away from me.
If you haven’t reached the point of being aware of how satisfying it can be to take time to simply think, I would like to encourage especially leaders and sports coaches to do this. Namely because they have to spend so much time thinking about others, that it is imperative they take time to think about themselves too. Here are some other reasons to carve out time to think. Especially critical thinking, which is much harder to do, and yes, it can be tiring to do so, but it’s worth it.
· Consider thinking as a form of self-care, or as a deep tissue massage for your brain.
· Thinking can also be relaxing, particularly if you are focused on topics which light you up and aren’t heavy or too serious.
· Practicing and carving out time to think may seem like a luxury, but it shouldn’t be. Just like anything you devote time to becoming better at, the rewards will be numerous when you become better at this.
· If you find that you don’t take enough time to think things through and make rash or not well thought through decisions, slowing down and allowing yourself even a few extra minutes to think something through can be beneficial to the outcome when you do this.
· Sometimes you can combine your thinking with doing something productive or good for yourself. For instance, I love taking walks in nature, and I find that I can easily think and gain invaluable insights during my walks about topics I need to invest more time in relating to both my personal and professional life.
· If you haven’t allowed yourself time to think, and this could be because you feel you don’t have time to do so, I can assure you this is simply an excuse. If you want to do this, you will find the time to do so, and it doesn’t have to be for a lengthy period. If you only have five minutes, then make the best of that time.
I now cherish being able to slow down and intentionally take time to think. If you told me I would state or feel this way at some point in my life, I would have been quite surprised. I hope you will have the opportunity, or will allow yourself to reach this point too.
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