I’m that girl at parties who is full of strange and useful facts. Learning knowledge is easy for me. I’m naturally curious and love learning about all sorts of things. But when it comes to putting it into practice, I lock up. I find it really hard to bridge the gap between knowing and doing.
When I wanted to start my own business, I knew I needed to have an ‘idea’. But I didn’t identify myself as an ‘Idea Person’, I thought I was just good at collecting other people’s ideas. I kept asking myself, “What can I do? Who can I help?”
I found myself slipping back inside my head, overthinking the problem.
Trying to force a solution often makes the problem worse. It suddenly feels bigger than it was before, less achievable. My problem solving ability feels clogged with all this thinking and I start to grow anxiety and stress.
“You can’t think yourself out of this one, Hannah.” Stephen Warley said to me as we had a coaching call in the early stages of my business development (side note, if you’re thinking of starting your own business, he’s amazing).
While thinking feels safe in the short term, it’s destructive in the long term because it doesn’t get results on its own. You can’t think or plan those moments of serendipity where you meet the right person at the right time – you have to be out and about.
So how can we approach this differently?
When I recognise that I’m overthinking (or when a trusted coach points it out), I can choose a different approach. When you’re at this point, chances are you’ve framed the problem and researched to give your mind plenty of information to chew on now it’s time to get out of your head. Try these strategies:
1. Seek the help of other people
A coach or mentor can help you see things from another point of view. They can light the next step and help remove the block to moving forward. They might not have the answer but connecting with others can decrease anxiety and remind you that you’re not in this alone. Sometimes, they’re the key you needed to open up a serendipitous opportunity.
2. Let go
This might seem counterintuitive, but stop thinking about it. Go for a silent walk, meditate, go on holiday, drive somewhere you don’t normally go and take yourself out for coffee. Try to leave your device alone and just ‘do nothing’. Allow boredom, allow space. This sort of relaxing allows the neural connections in your brain to seek novelty by processing connections in unique ways. This type of activity enables creative insight and problem solving.
3. Get a good night’s sleep
Similar to letting go, we allow our brain to do it’s best work during our down time. In his book, The Brain and Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman shares how chronic stress triggers a biological response that results in lowered immune response and it throws our nervous system out of balance. In turn, this interrupts our body clock and affects our sleep. A good night’s sleep helps to reverse this cycle. It reduces the anxiety, calms the brain and allows creative insight.
4. Act before you have a chance to think too much
Once you have created the environment for creative insight and a solution to your problem arises, take the next step as quickly as you can. It can be a tiny step in the direction of your goal. The idea is to create momentum and get ahead of your inner critic who will find a way to hold your still in your tracks if it can.
Be Brave and Curious,