Here is an example that you may be able to relate to: I am full of ideas - always (like annoyingly so at times). My thoughts tend to clutter my conscious mind, and until I release them, I generally feel overwhelmed, and the ideas seem disorganized and unattainable, or I forget them all together.
However, over the last two years, I have learned to write down my ideas as they come to me. The mind is set up in a way that once a plan is written down, it is released. That doesn't mean that you no longer think about that idea, but it frees you to think about it in a more organized way. Your mind begins to process through the concept - searching for solutions and organizing your thought process as you continue to write down the ideas.
So, when I have ideas, lists, goals, or anything else that tends to run through my mind at any given time, I release it onto whatever paper that I can find. After I write it down, I can focus more on the hows. I can then write out my ideas in a way that allows my brain to free itself from mental clutter. Making lists, setting goals, setting dates on the calendar, and keeping a journal are all ways that you can release the confusion in your mind so that you can focus on the details and make a plan on how best to tackle the ideas and thoughts that cloud your mind.
Here are a few simple steps to assist you in freeing your mind of the mental chaos, and becoming more intentional about the steps you must take to achieve a particular goal/idea:
1. Keep a notebook near you at all times
If you have a way to jot down a thought, idea, or goal at the time that it comes into your mind, then you will be able to free your mind so that you can see a more precise way to approach and achieve the thought, idea, or goal. If you think of your mind as a computer - you must free up space in order for the brain to be able to process stuff at a faster, more efficient rate - and writing it down allows for your mind to dump it and not only does your focus become more evident, but you will also tend to feel less stressed.
2. Brain Dumping
I challenge you to try this method:
Write about your feelings, ideas, goals, disappointments, and praises for five to ten minutes a day - generally when your mind is most alert, and in a sincere way. Dump all that you have in your head onto paper without stopping - do not worry about spelling, grammar, handwriting, etc. (though you want to make it legible so you can read it later). Do this for a week, then take time to read over your writings. Are you positive or negative in your thoughts? Do you have a lot of praises/moments of gratitude? Are you realistic in how you see life? Are you full of disappointments? How about those ideas and goals - are they attainable? If so, how?
3. Solutions to Your Issues - Your Conscious and Subconscious Mind
Now that you have dumped all your thoughts, I want you to make notes of the issues, circumstances, and burdens that you shared in your writings. Then use your notes to prioritize what you have written down - this part isn't for ideas and goals, only for the issues that emotionally drag you down.
List the top three issues that you need to tackle first. Is your job not a good fit? Is there an issue with someone that you need to resolve? Are you struggling with thoughts that are controlling your relationships and daily focus (i.e., the voices in your head, your constant issues with dependence on food, others, money, etc., or anything that controls the way you see yourself or the beliefs that bind you)? I then challenge you to tuck the rest of the list away, so that once you approach the first three issues, then you are readily able to move on to the next three.
I highly recommend this podcast episode with Melyssa Griffin and Jim Fortin - it is a business podcast for entrepreneurs, but this particular one deals with clearing your subconscious mind. You will want to listen to this more than once and have the ability to take notes, then take time to reflect on what they discuss.
4. Prioritize Your Ideas and Goals
Now it is time to dive into your ideas and goals. I want you to think about your primary goals in life. List them - these goals can be separate for home, business, relationship, etc.
Now, take those goals and write them down in an outline form, with your number one goal in each category listed first, the second next, etc. Leave enough space for the final step.
Next, I want you to look over your ideas. Which ideas are attainable for your present life, and which concepts need to become goals for the future? Make a list on a separate paper.
Finally, look at each list that you have. What ideas can you add under your goals to help you achieve these goals? What plans do not match up with your life goals and need to be scrapped?
Once you have narrowed down your list and organized it, then it is time to set a deadline. Is this an immediate day goal, if so, give yourself an end date to accomplish it and figure out a reward that will motivate you. If this is something that you will reach in the future, figure out an end goal as well, but set the goal in years, not a specific date. Be realistic in your goal end dates - give yourself enough time, but not too much.
Once your list is complete, take the top goals and agenda of ideas on how to reach those goals, and post them somewhere that you can see on a regular basis. We will discuss goals in another post, but for now, make sure that you are putting forth the daily, weekly, or monthly effort that will lead you to accomplish that goal.
5. Be Realistic and Give Yourself Grace
These steps will take time. Don't overwhelm yourself with clearing out all of your mental clutter in one week. Make goals and set realistic expectations in reaching those goals. You aren't going to start a successful business overnight or reach your goal weight in a month, or even declutter and organize your entire life in a week. Life happens, and when it does, your goals may need to be placed on hold for a moment, but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be picked back up and set back on track.
We often prioritize things in life that don't bring us to the goals that we set or issues that need to be addressed to better our lives. All too often, we spend our time doing things that won't matter in the grand scheme of things. Clearing out the clutter that binds us needs to be a priority for the sake of our health, relationships, family, and our future lives.