The wandering mind seems to be a pervasive trait of the human condition. Our insatiable appetite for information and entertainment initiates constant internal chatter and sensory distractions that lead to a loss of focus — derailing attention, energy, motivation, and sometimes health. It’s no secret that living in sensory overload impedes us from being and manifesting our best. So if you promised yourself that 2017 was going to be the year that you went after your dream, let’s make it happen by tapping into the magic of your mind.
1. Tap into Creativity
I work with a lot of entrepreneurs. In our world, there exists this myth that we work non-stop. The truth is that entrepreneurs work hard, but many value balance. If you are looking to get the creative wheels turning, self-care is key.
There is a link between creativity and solitary activities such as daydreaming, walking, or painting. If you are stagnant and in search of motivation or relaxation, take a shower. Research shows that 72% of international survey respondents reported having new ideas or insights in the shower [Shower for the freshest thinking. (2014) Hansgrohe—Cited in Wired to Create by Kaufman & Gregoire, 2015].
When we give ourselves the space and time to indulge in hobbies or pampering, our mind can reward us with unlocking the flow of ideas.
It may seem obvious to those who do it, but committing to a daily meditation practice can be transformative. Carve out the time, which can be just 10 minutes, and plan ahead. Meditation has been shown to increase compassion, decrease stress, and improve memory. You can read about it here and here.
By meditating regularly, we strengthen connections in the pre-frontal lobe—our brain’s reasoning center. As a result, we are able to respond to others and situations more rationally. Meditation fosters the habit of checking-in with your body. When I’m stuck, I always do a quick body scan to get in touch with my feelings.
3. Trust your Gut
In business, the adage ‘trust your gut’ is a favorite. And for a good reason: developing your intuition is important in venture creation. Getting a better sense of yourself and others’ behaviors and energy will help you achieve your goals.
Neurologically speaking, your body knows before your mind and that’s because your gut is a collection of your conscious (and unconscious) lived experiences. If you’re unsure how to trust your gut, make it a habit to reflect. After interacting with others, take the time to write down your thoughts and emotions.
Consider yourself indecisive? Give yourself a timeframe to make important decisions—an hour, sleep on it, or take a few days. Verbalize your intention to decide by a certain time and stick to it.
4. Don’t Multi-Task
Many budding entrepreneurs I teach have a lot of good ideas and are excited about pursuing them. I tell them to adopt the mantra: you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. Set your intention to do one thing at a time.
In fact, multi-tasking is a myth. When you multi-task, you are actually context-switching, and your error rate goes up 50% [Rogers RD, Monsell S. Costs of a predictable switch between simple cognitive tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 1995;124:207–231.].
Perhaps unsurprisingly, management experts posit that the average American consumes 34 gigabytes of content and 100,000 words in a single day. And there is evidence suggesting that the average human attention span is eight seconds, which is shorter than a goldfish’s.
To get in the habit of focusing deeper, unplug and put the technology away. Building a healthier relationship with your email and cellphone will train you to be more present and bring your attention to one thing.
5. Use Your Vision
Humans are visual creatures, so it should come as no surprise that in order to achieve success, you must visualize it. Our vision is a strikingly powerful sense. If you hear something, you’ll only remember 10% of it three days later. But, if you hear something accompanied by a picture, you’ll likely remember 65% days after [Brain Rules, Medina, 2009].
Manifesting your dreams requires imagining yourself carrying them out. Picture yourself where you want to be in six weeks, six months, and six years from this moment. What do you want your life to look like? Start a vision board where you can share inspiration that fuels your dream.
6. Try New Things
Exploration leads to achievement. Trying new things and taking risks activates the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays a significant role in motivation and learning. When we get out of our comfort zone, we become more creative and flexible.
Enjoy nature, break routine to try out a new schedule, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. In fact, social psychology research shows that making mistakes makes us more likeable! So embrace inevitable shortcomings and connect with others over pitfalls and successes.
About the Author
Leigh Winters, M.A., is an instructor at Columbia Business School’s Venture For All program where she teaches courses on entrepreneurship and business around the world. She is also a clinical researcher at Columbia University’s Spirituality Mind Body Institute and her research focuses on mindfulness, motivation, and venture creation. She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the holistic lifestyle media brand, Wise+Well. Reach out to her via [email protected] or on Instagram.