What if there were no limits to what you could create?
Every idea has to come from somewhere. Just think, a couple hundred years ago there was no such thing as right and left shoes – there were just shoes. And someone came up with the idea for shoes that would fit better, and then transformed that vision into a physical manifestation of their idea. And not all great ideas are met with open arms and minds – left and right shoes were met with objections: “why bother?”, “if they aren’t broken then why fix it?”. But now, we couldn’t imagine a world without shoes for each foot.
In order to imagine a vision for the future, though, the first thing you need is be able to relax and think here in the present.
What is your week like? Are you running from meeting to meeting and doing email in between?
If you are tactically focused, you may be getting a lot done, but as a leader you also need to have vision. Your vision may be for you, your goals, your team, your product, or your life. And in order to materialize that vision, you have to see it first. You can’t hit a goal that you can’t see.
So this week your focus is setting aside time to think.
Schedule anywhere from 10 minutes to a full hour on your calendar right now.
This is your time to think. Not to do email, not to make up lost work – but just to reflect.
You can meditate. You can recharge your batteries. You can digest and synthesize data. You can journal. You can plan.
It is your thinking time to imagine the future. All of what could be.
Keep this appointment at all costs.
It takes real discipline to set aside this time, and even fiercer discipline to keep it – but doing so can reap big benefits to your focus, productivity, and strategy.
If you start to feel stressed out or worried about all the things you “should” be doing, don’t cut your time short. Grab a notepad and write it down. Keep track of everything you need to do – journal about these emotions if it will help you handle the discomfort. Just keep the time limited to thinking, not acting, or you won’t see the benefits.
And for those of you that need a little more structure: use today’s thinking time to plan topics and ideas that you want to ponder for each of the following days.
Add the topics to the appointments, so when the time rolls around you can sit down and think without distraction or worry.
To prevent distractions, you can use a timer – like an egg timer or the alarm on your cellphone. Just avoid looking at your computer or cell phone periodically it is too easy to get sucked into the vortex of busywork.
Remove distractions if you can. Go to a quiet place. Silence your cell phone, or leave it in another room. Focus and think.
And to give you a little bit of a vision as you begin your thinking time this week, I want to relay a little story I love (borrowed from John F. Kennedy):
“A group of boys in Ireland would spend their days exploring the area around their village. Whenever they would come to a fence that they were afraid to climb, they would toss their hats over the fence, so they would have to go after them.”
Throw your hat into the future – because then you will be inspired to do whatever you can to follow it.
At the end of the week, think about how this has worked for you. Was it helpful? Maybe you should schedule even more thinking time on your calendar. If it didn’t work, tell us why. We would love to hear what you think.