Whether we are contemplating, mulling, analyzing, reasoning or evaluating, thinking is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal.
Our ability to think about our individual situations, analyze available information, contemplate future possibilities and evaluate past performance allows us to identify creative solutions to accomplish our goals.
Most importantly it gives us the chance to take a step back and consider the big picture. Financial or otherwise.
Its also free, has zero risk, and can be done almost anywhere.
Unfortunately, as a society we are spending less and less time engaging in meaningful thought, despite the fact that most people feel much more mentally exhausted. With demands on our time and attention at an all time high, it can be difficult to take a moment to breathe let alone an hour to reflect on whats happening in your life.
As it turns out, being bored actually provides a breeding ground for creative and divergent thought. The problem is – rarely, if ever, do we find ourselves bored anymore. Thanks a lot smart phones. Why let yourself be bored for even a second when you can mindlessly engage in some Candy Crush, sift through your Facebook feed, binge watch your favorite Netflix shows, or check work emails on your “time off”.
Waiting for an appointment – smart phone. In an elevator – smart phone. Having lunch and the person your with has gone to the bathroom – smart phone. We’ve filled up every second of our lives with things that occupy our minds, whether they are necessary or not.
So not only do we not feel like we “have time” in our busy lives, we don’t experience boredom the way people once did. Which means it is a rare moment indeed where we find ourselves with an unoccupied mind, free to wander, ponder and muse.
But time to think is an essential cornerstone to ensuring our lives and actions are effectively moving in our desired direction, and an even more essential component of achieving Financial Freedom.
When it comes to FF, taking time to think allows us to ruminate on financial principles. To brainstorm and develop strategies and tactics that build on those foundational principles in a way that works with our individual circumstances. And to focus that attention and effort in the most optimal way.
Despite the endless financial resources available, no book, podcast, or blog is going to give you advice that is 100% tailored to your situation.
They’ll provide lots of ideas for you to consider, but at the end of the day you’re the person who knows the details and complexities of your life. You are the one who is intimately familiar with your strengths, and limitations. You’re also the person who has the biggest stake in the outcome. Therefore you are absolutely the best person to put in the mental effort to identify what will help you achieve your goals. And doing that necessitates time to engage in focussed thought.
So in this high paced – high stimulus world, how do you make time to just think?
Well for starters, schedule it in. Seriously. Put it in your calendar. If we schedule in work meetings, work outs, hair cuts, and even the time to clear our minds of thought, we should definitely be scheduling in the brain storming sessions that will launch us to FF.
Set aside time each day to just think. Even if its just 20 minutes in the morning, or 30 minutes before you go to bed, secure some time where you know you can minimize or even eliminate your chance of distraction or interruption. (That means putting the smart phone away and on silent!)
If you need a little extra motivation to get into your thought groove, pair your think session with an activity you enjoy. Just pick one that creates a suitable environment for some deep thought. Maybe going for a long walk, pouring yourself a glass of wine to sip in front of the fire, sitting pool side with a cold beverage, or having the occasional cigar while sitting on the deck. If it’s something you really enjoy doing, your odds of not only sticking to your scheduled time, but also engaging fully, go up dramatically.
To get even more out of your thinking sessions, create a small list of problems you want to solve or areas you want to improve on, and assign an order of priority. This will help give your time the needed focus, and avoid you just drifting off into an aimless train of thought.
When you do come up with a great idea, implement it ASAP. Thinking is great, but it is wasted effort if it doesn’t result in action. Whether it’s a new way to cut expenses, a way to reduce the interest on your debt, or an approach to help you increase your savings or income, don’t sit on the idea, do it.
Small ideas and small changes will snowball, and before you know it, your thinking sessions will propel you that much closer to achieving your goal of FF.