Did you know that Albert Einstein was 16 years old when he first began thinking of the idea of special relativity? He was a constant daydreamer and he “envisioned” special relativity in one of his daydreams.
Brilliant insights out of deep thought aren’t unique.
Charles Darwin had something called a “thinking path” that he would walk down to consider his deep thoughts.
Fredrich Nietzsche regularly spent hours in nature trying to make sense of his ideas.
So the question is, what if we tried to do the same?
Unfortunately, daydreamers are often thought to be time wasters and unproductive in many ways.
Spending time thinking doesn’t seem like a productive way to live, but if it has helped some of the most brilliant minds in history to achieve their goals and find success, surely it can help us too.
According to psychologists, engaging in what is called “Reflective Thinking” is critical to self-improvement.
What is Reflective Thinking?
Reflection is the act of thinking about our experiences in such a way that we can draw meaning from them, find solutions to problems, and learn someone about ourselves in the process.
Reflection might often be thought of as a form of daydreaming since nothing physically productive is actually happening, but the act of reflecting can help you feel more confident in your decisions and help you navigate difficult times in your life.
Think about the last time something terrible happened to you. Were you able to find some good in that situation? If so, you were probably using the power of reflection to help you reconcile the experience into something that you learned from and grew from.
Why Does Reflection Matter?
Reflection matters for many reasons, but the biggest reason is that it helps us learn and grow from our experiences.
If you spend time every day thinking about our actions, attitude, behavior, connections, interactions, expressions, and even the food we ate, we could become better at these things and better at life in general.
Reflection helps people connect with themselves and those around them. It is one of the reasons why parents will ask children about their day at bedtime or at the dinner table. Asking “how was your day” can open a door to a world of reflection because children — and adults — need to stop and think about their day and what they did with it.
Two Hours to a Better Life
Some experts recommend up to 2 hours of reflective thinking per week. While that might seem like a lot of time, it’s only 120 minutes a week. Which is only 17 minutes a day, give or take a few seconds.
So if you spend 15-20 minutes a day first thing in the morning, or last thing before bed, thinking about your day, your life, you achievements, your failures, and more, you can begin to see patterns in your thinking emerge; you can begin to see how you connect with other people.
You can also start to see areas of your life that you want to improve, or you can spend the time trying to solve a problem.
Get a notebook and record your thoughts during those 15-20 minutes each day. And don’t feel guilty about making time to let your mind wander.
Time spent thinking is not time wasted. Humans have been given the gift of reflection and it’s important to our lives that we use that time to determine things about ourselves, solve problems and try to make sense of the world around us.
One of the best ways to use your thinking time to set goals that matter to you. Once you’ve done that, you can then work on achieving them.
Below we go over 7 simple steps to achieving your goals
Achieve Your Goals Using These Simple Steps
There are two schools of thought about goal setting: some people swear by it and some people don’t bother.
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of people who live in the grey on this topic. That’s because you are either someone who sets goals or you’re not.
If you’re trying to become someone who sets goals, it might seem trite, but it is possible, especially when you have the right systems in place.
In order to achieve your goals, there are certain things that everyone would agree on what needs to happen. Who’s everyone? The people who set goals…and achieve them.
1. Put it into the world.
The first thing you need to do if you want to set a goal is write it down somewhere.
At this point, it doesn’t have to be overly specific, but you should articulate it in such a way that you feel good about what it is you are trying to achieve.
Without knowing what you are going to focus on bringing to life, you’ll waste a lot of time and energy trying to find the right path.
Writing down your goal keeps your brain focused on the task at hand and helps you to come back to it when you get off course.
2. Be specific.
Next, you need to refine your goal so that you can specify what exactly you want to achieve.
Often, people make the mistake of trying to list out how they are going to reach their goal at this point, but what you want to do is actually write down what achieving the goal looks like.
You can figure out the steps to getting that goal later. Write down what it looks like when the job is done. This helps you focus on where to put your energy and recognize the next right steps.
3. Level up.
When setting a goal, it’s important to challenge yourself enough that you have to learn new skills or stretch your capacity just a little bit.
Research shows that about 7% outside your comfort zone is a good range for achieving your goals.
So if you usually walk after work but you want to start running, it would be reasonable to set a goal that sees you running 2 out of 30 days a month to start.
That’s a 7% improvement from not running at all. It seems slow but nobody said you had to “run” to your goal.
You can take as much time as you want. And research shows that taking your time and building on your skills over time is more likely to build success in the long run. No pun intended.
4. Don’t chase other people’s goals.
It’s important that you set goals that are right for you. In today’s world, we are all trying to one-up each other, especially on social media.
It’s vital that you set a goal that feels good and is achievable for you.
Don’t just pull numbers out of the air to set revenue targets because everyone else is trying to build a million-dollar business.
If you don’t want to make that much or your business doesn’t have the capacity to earn that kind of bank yet, then set something more realistic.
This doesn’t make you less than other people, but it shows that you understand where you are and where you want to be in a certain period of time.
It doesn’t mean you won’t ever get there, but it might mean having to set several goals along the way to get to where you want to go.
5. Set a goal, not a target.
Remember that targets are not the same as goals.
A goal might be to start running 3x a week but a target is to run each mile in under a certain period of time.
A goal might be to start a business but a target is to get four clients in your first month. Look at what you wrote down originally: is it a target or a goal?
6. What’s the next right step?
Once you’ve clarified your goal, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to reach that goal. This is where most people stop.
It’s difficult to try to achieve something you’ve never done before, which is why it’s so important to start slow and build your capacity as you go.
When thinking about the next right step ask yourself this question, “what can I do right now to move toward this goal?” and then do it.
7. Tell someone.
If you find yourself starting to fall behind in your goal and you’re not sure if you can keep going, it’s a good idea to build a support network for yourself.
Find others who are setting similar goals, tell friends who will hold you accountable, join a mastermind group, and keep track of the progress you’re making so you can see how important putting one foot in front of the other foot can be over time.
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