Most people I work with are high achievers who are used to making things happen. They have experienced success and are keen to grow and learn so they can achieve more. They know there is more but often the busyness of their day to day life is robbing them of the time and energy they need to clarify their goals and create plans to take them forwards. They feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
Clarity of mind requires time (and space) to think
Thinking time is under-rated by most of us. It is rarely scheduled. We are usually doers more than thinkers. The pace of life gets in the way of time to think. We focus when we have a problem, but even then, we are pressured and can settle for the first thought that comes into our minds and miss the best solution.
One of the main roles I play as a Business Mentor is to help people think. Thinking involves reflecting, problem solving, creating new ideas and fresh plans, and more. It is about creating the space and framework in a busy and often overloaded mind to enable you to think and find clarity.
There are two main types of people
It may appear to be a paradox but to think clearly you have got to get your thoughts out of your head. Otherwise your thoughts tend to jumble up together and you stay confused and without clarity.
1.Verbal processor. This person needs to talk out their thoughts to a good listener. Clarity tends to come as they hear themselves speaking out what they have been pondering internally for a while.
The ideal person to help you here is someone who will listen without judgement or interrupting. This can be a friend or colleague, or an experienced coach or mentor who understands what you are trying to achieve and the direction you are headed and can ask you great questions to draw you out. It is amazing how talking about an issue brings clarity of mind.
You probably still need to record your thoughts so you can either record the conversation or write them down or ask your listener to write down the main points as you talk.
If you really have no one who is a good listener it can work just to speak yourself into a voice recorder and listen back to yourself. At least that way you can get to a more objective listening to your own thoughts which aids the process of critical thinking.
2.Written processor. This person has two main options to gain clarity of mind.
- Write yourself out. Long hand in detail. Outline what you are thinking. All the elements of it and get it out of your head and onto the page – longhand with pen or type into a computer word document.
- Create a mind map. Use a blank page as a canvas and draw some circles on it and write each of your main thoughts into a circle. It is a way of mapping your thoughts when they are all jumbled. Once again it is about getting your thoughts out of your head and onto a page. Just a different way. If you are visual person this may work better for you. There are apps you can download to help you create mind maps. E.g. https://www.mindmup.com/ or https://www.lucidchart.com/pages/. NB. Mind maps can be called mud maps.
Once you have your jumbled thoughts out of your head you are in a better position to think more critically and objectively about them. They are your thoughts, but you can now organise them better and edit the way you express them.
It is always better to get your main thoughts out into written or visual form. Once you have them down you can edit and arrange them into a logical order that makes sense for presentation to others.
Ask any blogger or writer, if you try to edit as you go, it makes the writing task extremely laborious. And if you wait until you have everything totally organised in your mind just by thinking, you may never gain clarity of mind. Clarity of mind rarely comes by yourself just mulling over your thoughts.
A recent case study
I am working with a business owner who has achieved moderate success but knows there is more. They just do not know how to make that happen. They are too busy to do anything new right now. When asked what they ideally want from their business, they look at me and screw their face up and shrug their shoulders. They do not really know. So, after getting to know them a little, I ask them how they best gain clarity of mind. Once I find out whether they are verbal or written processor, and check how visual they are, we start the journey of helping them clarify their thoughts.
It is such a fun process to help a busy person to create the space in their life (and in their head) to be able to really think deeply about what they want from their business and bigger picture for their life. Once they know what they want it is quite easy to create a plan to achieve their vision.
In which areas of your life do you need clarity of mind?
What is the best way for you to create the time (and space) to do that?