You’ve probably heard of a “brain dump.” You know, taking all of those thoughts that are cluttering your brain up and getting them down on paper. Maybe you’ve even decided that this is the year that you are going to journal, declutter your thoughts, be more intentional, organize everything – including your brain.
I want to help you take that “brain dump” to the next level and make it more intentional, more self-aware and help you decide what you are going to keep and what you are going to throw out. So think about this as organizing your brain.
We’re going to call this Thought Work.
Thought work begins by developing the habit of writing things down, of emptying out your brain on paper, just like you’re emptying out the closet. Write without any judgment and don’t even evaluate what you write as you’re writing. Just let it all pour out.
When you do this, you’re going to see what’s going on in there; what’s preventing you from being able to move forward. And, it’s normal to have thoughts come out that you don’t like. You may see frustration or annoyance written down. That’s okay! No need to correct them – it’s normal to have all of these thoughts. But you can ask yourself, though, “do I want to keep it?” Is keeping that thought going to help you? Is it going to help you move forward? And just like when we clean out a closet, you have a choice: you can donate or give it away so you can be open to believing something new, just like you can be open to putting something new in your closet.
Benefits to Organizing Your Thoughts
- It’s an opportunity for you to observe your life; to kind of eavesdrop on your own life. It gives you a little picture of what’s really going on in there. If we don’t eavesdrop on what’s going on in your brain, then all these thoughts, they become the story of your life. And this story can become a big problem when every little thing becomes a problem.
When you dump out your thoughts onto paper, it gives you the opportunity to pause and evaluate and reflect versus react and regret. This brings us to the next reason why doing this is important work.
- It requires you to slow down and decide if you like that story. Writing things down with a pen and a paper makes you go slower than typing it. Sometimes people ask me if they can type this brain dump. Sure, you could type it, but I would love you to write it down with a pen because it makes you go even slower and you can pause and reflect versus react and regret.
- It allows you to synthesize and clarify your thinking. Your brain is always going to outpace your writing. When you physically write, you’re slowing your brain down. When you take notes on what’s going on in your brain, you have to make sense of things and write in a way that highlights the most important things. It clarifies what you’re really thinking because you’re only writing down the most important things.
- It gives you the opportunity to ask yourself some questions. These questions can really be helpful in deciding what you’re going to keep and what you’re going to throw away.
- It gives you the opportunity to really discover whether or not you’re having some bias. This is similar to how sometimes things don’t seem so important or bad the next day or after you sleep on them. You have the opportunity to look in hindsight at what happened. Also, you can look back at it and decide, did I like what happened?
The best way to do this kind of stuff is to create a ritual, a daily routine, using the same pen and the same pad of paper and maybe even the same music. Work it in as a regular part of your day.
When we write things down, we can just look at the facts and clean them up. You get to decide how you want to move forward from here. Do you want to move forward? You get to decide that. You get to evaluate and reflect on the past. But the past isn’t giving you your fortune for the future. You get to create that. You now have the opportunity to redirect your brain in the way you want it to go. So if you’re just sitting around wondering why things aren’t happening, you’re not doing the thought work it takes in order to create the focus work that you need or that would show you you’re moving forward.
Recognize that goals are going to be much easier to achieve when you have an organized brain. And rather than fighting with how you’re thinking, you can start to choose to align your thinking with your goal. Think aligning yourself with your own thinking versus fighting it. So, the goal here is not to always make yourself happy in writing down all these thoughts. The goal is for you to evolve into becoming a different person as you clean out your brain and see what it gives you.
You can ask yourself some questions that will prompt the thoughts you need to align yourself with your goal to move forward and to create your own future.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What are the things that I think I’ll have to do to move past all of the thoughts that will come up, that will try to prevent me from creating this flow state or moving forward?
- What beliefs am I going to keep and what beliefs am I going to donate to goodwill?
- How do I allow myself to get into that flow state and decide which thoughts I want to keep and which I want to give up?
This is key to organizing your brain: writing everything down that’s in your brain down and then putting it in two different piles, the keep pile and the throwaway pile.
- The difference between thought work and busy work.
- How being in a flowing state versus a starting and stopping state where you get hooked on the things that aren’t serving you is so much healthier in helping you achieve your goals, and you recognize that as you dump out all of your thoughts on paper.
- When you dump out your thoughts onto paper, it gives you the opportunity to pause and evaluate and reflect versus react and regret.
- How creating a daily ritual around this is super helpful.
- Your past is a teacher not a fortune teller.
Doing work like this is truly transformative! This process, like others I coach to, isn’t just about growing a business or career, it’s about leveling up, and creating the sustainable results you want.
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