Making Time to Think
Can you believe it’s been over 2 years since we went into Lockdown? I remember so clearly my last day of working in person. I was Coaching a multidisciplinary team in a hospital in London and we were asked to ensure we distanced ourselves 2 metres from each other. It seemed unusual and surreal, little did we know just how ‘normal’ distancing would become. Living through a pandemic has brought many changes, in work and personal life, wellbeing and society to name just a few.
As a Coach, a phrase I use a lot is “Retreat to advance”. By this I mean it is important to take moments to pause, to think, to gather our thoughts and emotions, to make meaning of our experiences before moving ahead. Pausing creates the opportunity for us to think intentionally, deeply and strategically, about where we are, where we have been, where we want to be and the direction we are heading. Reflection isn’t only for when big life changes happen and can be useful as an ongoing practice to help you keep heading in the direction you genuinely want to go. Making time to think helps you live and work in a way that is meaningful to you, aligned to your values, strengths and purpose.
Create time to think
Going for a walk, cycle or drive, gardening or other creative activities, writing or even hanging out the washing creates space to think. Having time to think, you may experience a few ‘lightbulb moments’, notice what you think and feel about your experiences, notice your self-talk, start to make connections, become clearer about your priorities and gain more focus.
What or where gives you the opportunity to think?
What’s the best time of day for you to think?
What stops you from having ‘thinking time’?
When can you schedule time to think this week?
Afterwards, what do you notice about your thoughts? What are you thinking about?
You might find it useful to write, sketch / doodle your thoughts. Do whatever feels natural to you. You can add to your notes or doodles over time and see if you spot any patterns or themes.
Think your way forward
Thinking about our experiences and what is or has been happening in our life, gives us the opportunity to make changes, to make different choices and consider new options as we move forward. We may decide to experiment and try something new (& then of course reflect on it!).
We naturally act on our thoughts, therefore if our thoughts are holding us back we may not be headed in the direction we would like to be going. Sometimes we just need to make small changes to the way we are thinking if we have become stuck with a default way of thinking. Positive thoughts create positive emotions, boosting our mood, helping us to spiral up. Negative thoughts create negative emotions, also impacting our mood. This is why it is important to notice what we are thinking!
Reflect: Questions to think about…
What are you thinking and/ or feeling?
What have you learnt e.g. from this situation, experience or week?
What insights have you gained? E.g. about yourself? your values? the direction you want to go?
With your insights, what action can you take? What do you want to do more/ less of?
When you notice your thoughts, be curious. Ask yourself: is this thought helping me or holding me back from where I want to be? If it is helping you, great, if it is getting in your way try to reframe it.
Reframing unhelpful thoughts
Identify the unhelpful thought and then reframe it…
What is the liberating truth or limitless belief?
What will believing this liberating truth enable me to think and/or do?
What is a different way I could look at this situation?
What would my wisest friend advise me about this?
By intentionally creating time to think - you can actively choose to think differently about situations, make changes, reflect and then act on your insights and learning, influencing your future and path ahead. The process can feel uplifting! Creating time and space to think expands your thinking, instigating your most creative and hope filled thinking. Creating space to think can improve your sleep, enhance your mood, decision making and energy levels! Maybe you would like to set a reminder to schedule time to think each week, thinking your way forward.
Sarah Crittenden is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and Personal and Executive Coach. To find out more about the work she does visit her website: https://sarahcrittenden.com/