When tackling the daunting task of setting the year’s goals, you can feel overwhelmed. Use strategic coping strategies to organize your thoughts so that your ideas can take you somewhere other than to the fridge for another piece of leftover holiday pie.
Brain Dumps for Goals
I LOVE brain dumps. If you don’t know what I’m talking about they are sessions where you sit down in front of your favorite medium – laptop on the couch, iPad at the doctor’s office, lunch break at work, stuck in line at the pharmacy, doesn’t matter- and dump out all your ideas. It can be a list, doodles, mindmap, whatever. The point is to get it all OUT of your head and down so your eyes can see it. That’s when the magic happen.
When you can see the awesome 3am idea you had for stainless steel oven mitts (wait, storing that away) on “paper” you can more easily assess whether this is really an idea that needs to take up precious space in your already clogged brain (I’m assuming). If it does, great! Start fleshing out that flash of brilliance and don’t let it get flushed by 4am cravings for Salt and Vinegar chips (oh, like I’m the only one). If it’s NOT really worth the energy right now, store it somewhere BESIDES your brain (we already established it’s clogged). Come back to it later. Some ideas need to ripen – like the lettuce you bought to make salads because now you’re gonna eat healthier. It feels better to hang onto it and throw it away when it’s good and stinky. And who knows, it might end up being an awesome idea later, when the time is right.
So how do you strategize your goals?
I do a couple different things.
1. I find the medium I love and stick to that. But also
2. I find tools I WILL use when I CAN’T use my fave. Like, I’m typing this blog up on my freaking phone right now. I have some down time, but I’m not at home in front of my laptop and white board.
3. I use a whiteboard. I admit to a slight love affair with whiteboards. I won’t go into it. It’s too personal, but let’s just say they are the shiznit. You can right the world with a whiteboard. That is an entirely true statement and in no way exaggerates the importance of whiteboards.
4. I draw diagrams. Some call them mindmaps, which is a cool word, but whatever. These puppies literally draw a picture AND a map to the next idea, the next step. They help you identify straggling ideas that don’t fit with the big picture too. (Remember, you don’t have to throw these ideas out. Just store them in your Um Maybe Later folder. You should totally have one of those). There are a bunch of free digital and online tools to help you draw mindmaps, but don’t let this turn into a rabbit trail (more on those later). Good ol’ pen and paper work brilliantly too. And you can always take a pic with your smartphone and save your work that way. If you’re one of THOSE type people you can go off your drawing and pretty it up in a mindmap or diagramming program. (Disclosure: I am sometimes one of those…) LifeHacker has a good article here outlining some great mindmap software.
5. Evernote!!! I have no problem shamelessly plugging my favorite softwares. And heck yes I go sign up for affiliate programs if they have them! Finding something you live and telling others for profit is almost exactly the American way. Sheesh. Whatevs, I LOVE Evernote. I have used it for YEARS. I have stuff in there I would be lost without. It’s lasted through businesses, relocations, rebrands, and even a divorce. That’s a dark folder. Anyway, use it. Live it. Love it. You can store just about anything and organize it lovingly. Then access it from literally anywhere and anything.
6. Use a journal. Yes, like a diary. Write down all the odd stuff that doesn’t really seem to belong in your business or goals. Wrote down your night dreams, your day dreams, your ruminations and what you ate that day if it’s on your mind. The point is the same as the brain dump, to declutter and to SEE it. Go over what you wrote last week. How’s you’re mental state? Or maybe you shouldn’t ask that. I don’t know you. Anyway, journaling has long been touted as a good habit for success. Something about it encouraging you to live a life worth recording. I don’t know. Jim Rohn was the expert on that. You can learn more from his stuff if you want.
7. Write in a calendar. Yes, we’re in the digital age, but there are psychological factors involved with putting pen to paper. The act of writing seems to stimulate mental recognition. (Cited studies by Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the College DE France in Paris). Regardless, it helps to have a hard copy of your plans out, open in front of you, and by all means, doodle, design, and let your ideas out right there in the middle of “January”.
These are just some ways I use to get my shiz together. Whatever methods you adopt, don’t let the fear of recording it right keep you from getting started. Remember these are tools and not sacred in the least. Maybe you’re a “Beautiful Mind” type using string and newspaper clippings to map out your next idea. Do it. The whole point is to treat your ideas as a sort of fuel for your life and get them out.