Asking and answering deeper questions for ourselves, is the best thinking we can do for a Bold Life. Perhaps you consider that you already think for yourself, and perhaps you’re right. But the quick fix, Google answer, crowdsourced, consumer society we live in, will have had an effect on you. It’s a matter of how much.
What stops us from thinking too deep is the worry that we have it all wrong. That we don’t know the answers. That we’re not capable of working them out. Some women have told me they don’t think it’s worth planning when there’s so much uncertainty in the world. They’re worried that events, public, professional and personal, will overtake them and make positive changes impossible.
While the fear of uncertainty is a permanent part of our human condition, we don’t need to let it rule our choices. Our imagination can make or break any situation. If you’ve learned that you can’t make changes, then you won’t. If you’ve learned that you can, then you will.
Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, wrote in a 2015 article in Edweek, that retraining ourselves towards a growth mindset is not about trying harder. More useful is watching for those times when you get stuck in the ‘I’m no good at…’ mode, and adding ‘yet’ to the end of your sentence.
‘I’m not clear about what my Bold Life looks like. Yet.’
‘I’m not brave enough to make the changes I want. Yet.’
‘I’m not willing to leave my situation. Yet.’
That one small word equals possibility. You aren’t ready yet? Excellent, now let’s think about what you need to do to be ready. Far from helplessness, you’re in action, you’re planning, you’re on the way.
The antidote to uncertainty is hope. Cultivating a sense of certainty helps us to take chances. So we plan and do, and if it works out that’s great, and if not, we try a different way. Rather than waiting for life to be messy, get on and act anyway.
How do you think for yourself?
Make it a priority. Not a public proclamation or a Facebook status, just a quiet decision and determination that you will and can think clearly and well. Only tell those who will support and encourage you. Whether you are partnered or single, it’s essential to give this time to yourself.
Make it a habit. A regular, daily reflection time that is just for you. No distractions or interruptions, this is your time and space to daydream, and ponder. This is your future that you’re considering, so take your time. Even if you’re in a crisis moment, the steps will come better to you when you press the pause button to think.
Make it a practice. Julia Cameron speaks of morning pages as a process to strengthen thinking. Each morning you write three A4 sized pages, preferably in longhand. To begin with, you may wonder what to write about, but your brain will keep you going, no matter if it’s your shopping list or a vent about the neighbours, you’re building a writing practise. As you stay with this daily routine of writing, you’ll notice that your thoughts will starts to focus on the bigger questions.
Choose a theme. What’s the point of your Bold Life. Do you want to make a difference? To be happy? To create? To serve? To have adventure? If you’re unclear about what you actually want to do, then go digging, writing to find out what matters to you.
Thinking for yourself is the most unselfish action you can take.