Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut? Or as if your business keeps stalling for reasons you can’t quite understand?
Do you ever find yourself wishing you could recapture the professional progress you made in the past?
These kind of feelings are incredibly common but before you start adjusting your actions, first you need to change the way you think and the way you approach particular challenges.
In a moment, I’ll take you through five steps designed to help shake up your thinking for the better. But first I’ll let you in on a little secret…one of my guilty pleasures in life at the moment is the playing puzzle game Candy Crush.
This might not seem relevant and you’d be right to think that the game makes me less productive at times than I ought to be, but stick with me and I’ll explain how it helped me understand the importance of fresh thinking.
As many of you may know, Candy Crush involves a player making gradual progress through dozens of levels based on their ability to complete a more or less complex series of on-screen puzzles. Some stages are easy to complete but others are fiendishly difficult, which makes them all the more satisfying to successfully complete.
A big part of what makes Candy Crush so addictive and fun is that players like me often find themselves stuck for days on a single level. The trouble is that with Candy Crush, as with running a business, sticking rigidly to an approach that isn’t working is tempting, even if we know it will never bring success or the satisfaction you’re looking for.
The key to breaking out of bad habits, or moving on from strategies that don’t succeed, is forcing yourself to find new ways of thinking. Being on auto-pilot is not good enough if you want to reach the next level on Candy Crush, or, more importantly, if you want your business to keep making progress.
So, here are my five steps designed to help you start thinking differently:
Step 1 – Focus on your thinking
Focusing on your thinking, rather than your actions, can lead you to a different approach and a different understanding of how your goals might best be achieved.
How often are you aware of your thinking? Is your thinking hindering your progress? Are there other, more efficient or effective paths you could take to reach your aims? When you’re more aware of the way you think, you can take action to use positive situations to your advantage and re-shape the negative ones. The goal is to think positively, regardless of the situation, and make a conscious effort to see opportunities instead of obstacles.
If you approach your business endeavours with an attitude of “I can” and “I will,” you can change the path of your success.
Step 2 – Own your goals
Begin every journey for your business with your end point in mind so that you are crystal clear about what you want to achieve. By focusing on the end results, you are, in effect, putting your attention beyond any obstacles that might stand between you and the achievement of the results you want.
It can also be helpful to imagine or envisage where you need to be at particular points on the road towards success. By working backwards from your end point, you might find that you shed some useful light on the nature of the challenges you face and you can therefore be better equipped with potential solutions.
To help with this, create a compelling vision of what you want to achieve and by when. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How will you know when you’ve succeeded?
- How will it feel?
- What will is sound like?
- What will you see?
Step 3 – Clarify your thinking
There are two main ways of clarifying your thinking:
1. Ask great questions of yourself and others
You know what your aims are and you’ve got a clear vision of what success will look like, now you need to make sure you’re asking the right questions to ensure you make the right kind of progress.
The key is to find ways of asking the questions that matter most to your situation and that fire your imagination and problem-solving capabilities.
2. Review and measure
To avoid potential pitfalls and maintain the most productive possible course, it is vital to regularly review and measure not just what we do but also how we think. Reflecting on your approach, as well as the results, is the best way to arrive at the kind of insights that can really make a difference in improving your business’ processes and performance.
Step 4 – Separate positive and negative thinking
This is a tricky process but one that can be really helpful if you’ve decided to reassess the way you currently approach individual challenges. Ask yourself the following questions to get started:
How would you define the way you currently approach business-related challenges?
What kind of thinking do you consider potentially beneficial in the context of achieving the goals you have for your business and the vision you have for its future?
Can you pin-point any particular thought processes that you know are unhelpful but which you struggle to avoid?
Can you think of situations in which you were faced with a tough professional challenge but overcame it with the aid of a strategic approach that you might be able to use again in future?
If you can succeed in separating out your positive thought patterns from your negative ways of thinking then you might suddenly find yourself making much better use of your time and resources.
5 – Take action
Once you’ve managed to shake up your thinking and you have a clear vision for making progress, you need the courage of your convictions to act in new ways that really make a difference.
You also need to make sure that you stay focussed on what’s most important and don’t find yourself drifting back into auto-pilot mode. Having someone around who will keep you accountable, like a business or life coach for example, can help you turn your positive thinking into action and tangible results.
Changing your approach to a game like Candy Crush is easy but refreshing the way you do business or tackle certain key tasks can be very daunting. The key is to back your ideas and stick with it, the rewards for success will make it all worthwhile.
Now it’s your turn, I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment in the box below.