Photo Credit, Unsplash: Devin Avery

How Successful is Your Thought Process?

Psychologists say we have 70,000 thoughts a day, 490,000 a week, and over 25 million thoughts a year. What on earth are you thinking about? During this season, you’re likely working overtime. Are you mindful of your thought process? Are you mindful of what you’re thinking?

You might be someone who hits the gym every day at 5 am and now for at least 2 months, you haven’t touched the gym. You might spend a lot of your morning thinking about this topic rather than working out. Are you still motivated in the AM? Or are you thinking about how unmotivated you feel? How much power are you giving away? How critical are you being on yourself regarding your existing success?

Remember, your mind doesn’t currently have a separation between your safe space at home, the place you’re comfortable and can unwind. You’re having to work, live, cry, panic, relax, and sleep in the same environment.

Can you recall the excitement of having a productive day? Working from home is changing that emotion significantly and if you’re feeling that, you’re not alone.

Google searches for “how to get your brain to focus” are up 300%.

One thing I love about this season, is recognizing that no one is alone. You may hear me repeat it a lot, but our minds are not focusing like they did pre-pandemic. Amy Arnsten is a Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at Yale and studies how our brains respond to stress.

So if you want to sound wise and tell a friend why they’re having a terrible time focusing. Essentially you can say that the prefrontal cortex, this is around your forehead, processes “higher functions” which is the home plate of critical thinking, focus, responding to impulses, and your ability to focus. Essentially this part of your brain is what will guide critical decisions. This is also a great way to connect to random eating or drinking that you might be doing more than normal.

So if we’re talking about thought process success, what’s the definition of success? Success is defined as the means accomplishing an aim or purpose. It is also achieving popularity or profit. No wonder our world can’t stop achieving more and needing more. We’ve been instructed by hundreds if not thousands of influencers in our lives, illustrating what success looks like.

Interestingly enough, it doesn’t have a numerical value. It doesn’t say when your paycheck is a minimum of 90K a month, your home value is a minimum of $500,000, you have two kids, you’ve been married for over 35 years, you have 2 Gucci handbags in your closet and your dog gets $80 biweekly grooming while you sip Dom Perignon on your patio. Oh, and if you traveled to a minimum of 10 countries this past year, you’re on the right track. Which me even saying that might trigger some of you and your travel goals for the year.

The minimums we allow the world to plant in our minds, create a false sense of reality. We begin to hear that someone who is retiring by 40 is successful. We build these stories of success in our minds and strive so hard to reach something that we chose to make up for ourselves, hold it against us, and believe that on our time — we need to get there.

If you watch closely, our society amplifies various levels of what success means. We curate success and we can’t stop increasing the minimums.

We focus our thinking around deliverables, avoid distractions, and live in an overdrive state of daily goals for ourselves.

And then a pandemic hits.

What’s funny is I really don’t want to talk about the pandemic here. However, I think we mess up our thought process by thinking it’s ok to avoid what it’s doing to our mindset and thought process.

I am intentionally weaving the pandemic into our moments where we attain knowledge or pause to step away from the world. If you’re pausing to step away from the noise — like the 100 coronavirus briefings I receive each day, I encourage you to be kind to yourself. Be mindful of what you’re removing and what you’re adding. Be mindful of what triggers your thoughts. And consider what strategies you’re utilizing to problem solve, cope, heal, and thrive in this season.

Your current thought process might include unexpected guilt, shame, bursts of joy, and random happiness.

A few ways that you can approach this season include narrowing your focus with goal setting.

Narrowing is not aligned with ignoring.

Narrowing means focusing on a gift or two. Not all of them.

Narrowing means focusing on who you want to support and support them well.

You might be working remotely, you might be working on-site at a restaurant or you might be one of the 36 million who have been laid off.

Pay attention to the thought process you carry during your 8–10 hours a day. Regardless of how you're spending that time.

You might be familiar with SMART goals.

Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based goals.

You can try that format, but I want to land the plane and have you focus on this: Goal setting.

97% of people do not have clearly defined goals in their life. They’re existing and passing through.

Do you know why our society doesn’t want to set goals? Fear. Poor Self-image. No buy-in. And They don’t know-how.

If you are someone who isn’t goal-setting and you actually have been taught how to set goals — ( we could probably all feel convicted with this) — take a second to consider what thoughts you’re throwing into your mind to distract you from goal setting. I can definitely relate to overthinking, analyzing and talking yourself out of a goal based on non-sense that you allow to distract you. Let’s stop that together shall we? Ok great.

Zig Ziglar defines fear as False Evidence Appearing Real.

1. False. Evidence. Appearing. Real. We’re living with a fear mentality and we’re human. It’s okay to feel it. Just don’t let it control you.

2. Poor Self-image. If you grew up in a household of doubt, negativity, verbal abuse, and hateful commentary, your self-image might be damaged. On the other hand, you might be coming into a new season where you’ve made tremendous strides with therapy and talking about how you’re intentionally overcoming this poor self-image.

If someone told us we’re amazing multiple times, we’ll perform as if we are. If someone told us we’re stupid, ugly, or annoying — we’ll perform with a hindrance that we are.

If you continue to repeat your message of positivity, eventually someone will believe it. Take the risk to repeat the joy and goodness you see in someone rather than the negativity. Your commentary is a thought before it’s ever spoken. So even if you’re speaking positively, you’re contributing positivity to your thought process before the words are even spoken.

3. No Buy-In.

While you’re not physically traveling right now, your mind is traveling all over the place. If you’re not setting goals with small wins, you’ll be working — wondering about doordash for dinner. While you’re eating dinner — you’ll be wondering what you actually accomplished for the day. It’s an unhealthy cycle. It makes you distant, frustrated and before you know it — you’re aggravated with your spouse or children — when you, in fact, you are emotionally upside down with yourself.

Ziglar says that direction creates time and motivation creates energy. I can’t stress this enough. Your motivation, energy, joy, and overall state of happiness will have direct connections to your goals. You intentionally celebrate with a sense of accomplishment. Don’t you love that rush? It feels good.

4. Finally, You may not know how to set goals.

So here’s what I want to share with that. Ziglar says that when you DISCIPLINE yourself to do those things you OUGHT to do WHEN you ought to do them, the DAY will come when you CAN do the thing you WANT to do when you WANT to do them.

You actually will gain more assurance, control and focused interest after you set goals because you will realize over time, what you enjoy, what you’re good at and what you want to experience more of.

So let’s close with few actionable questions to ask yourself.

  1. Is it really my goal? This plays into the success metrics I mentioned earlier. Asking yourself if this is your goal or if society is telling you that this means success and that’s what striving towards, will really take a toll on the condition of your soul. Find alignment and balance if it’s your goal.
  2. Will this goal make me healthier? Health is emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual. Consider how this goal will make you healthier.
  3. Will this goal bring me closer to others? If you’re extroverted, how are you integrating with others to fill your cup? If you’re introverted but enjoy those intimate 1–1 connection, are you making a goal to connect with 3 people over coffee? Think of what’s realistic, and aim to make it a priority.
  4. Will this goal make me happier? You have to be committed to your goals. If not, you’ll feel a sense of failure and disappointment, which are the opposite of happiness.

Think about your relationships. Your Attitude. Your motivation. The energy you cultivate when you say yes. And remember who is in your accountability circle. If you’re not telling anyone your thought process, your goals, and your direction — you may struggle to be held accountable. Let others in this week and share this journey together. Remember, we’re in this together.

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Host of The Feedbackcode Podcast + Brand Strategist + Connector. Igniting potential and activating perspective through stories of everyday feedback.

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Steph Barnes

Steph Barnes

Host of The Feedbackcode Podcast + Brand Strategist + Connector. Igniting potential and activating perspective through stories of everyday feedback.

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