Inspirational stories are a great motivational tool. Here’s a story which changed my own life. It’s called “Experiments in Popsicle Time.”
When was the last time you sat quietly?
Recently I spoke with Trevor Blake, an amazing entrepreneur and best-selling author of the book Three Simple Steps. During our conversation he told stories of many super-successful people who start off their days with 20 minutes of just sitting quietly by themselves. I decided to try it, and wrote a note to remind myself.
Every morning, I saw the note waiting for me on my desk. Every morning I also saw the long list of things I had to do that day. I was always too busy to sit and think, so I just continued with my daily routine, slowly forgetting about those 20 minutes….
Announcing a new definition of focus
I also had the opportunity to speak with John Lee Dumas, a podcasting superstar who hosts a show called Entrepreneur on Fire. He defined the word “focus” with the acronym: Follow One Course Until Success. I liked that way of viewing the word, and focused on sharing this definition with my family and friends.
Have an “A-Ha” Moment Every Day
An “a-ha” moment is a moment in which you suddenly exclaim “A-ha! What a great idea!” Josh Waitzkin and Tim Ferriss discuss this concept in a podcast. Josh explains how he helps business owners and hedge fund managers have multiple a-ha moments every day and not just once in a lifetime.
As soon as I finished listening to Josh talking about his “a-ha” moments, I realized that in order to have an “A-ha! Moment,” I had to follow Trevor Blake’s approach and spend 20 minutes thinking.
I sat outside in my backyard and tried to think.
As it turns out, it’s not easy spending 20 minutes just thinking. The 20 minutes felt like an eternity since my to-do list kept invading my mind. (Ever try not thinking about a pink elephant?)
So instead of dedicating 20 minutes to thinking, I decided that I shorten my thinking time to however long it took me to eat a Popsicle.
What happened when I ate my Popsicle?
During that time, I just looked around the garden and cleared my mind. I used this time to just get away. As I sat there, I stopped obsessing and started focusing. Way too often, people obsess about their money, their relationships, the stock market, the bond market, and everything else that seems pressing at the moment. Now, I focused on nothing!
I cleared my mind.
I focused on the spider in front of me, and observed how he climbed up the wall. I noted the straight lines between the backyard tiles. I even compared the geometry of our house to our neighboring houses. I freed my mind, and it felt great!
An easy strategy for success: simply move away from distracting details in order to allow yourself to think unemotionally.
Just disconnect for the time it takes to eat a Popsicle and let your mind focus only on creative thoughts.
You can adopt this strategy by using three simple tactics.
- Disconnect 100%
Totally disconnect from the world around you for the time it will take you to slowly eat a Popsicle. No phones, no people, no email, no music. Just you and your thoughts.
- Observe your surroundings
Sit and observe the simplest things around you until your creativity kicks in. Don’t use the time to review your problems, plan your day, or obsess on your stresses. Just look around, simplify your thoughts, and let your imagination run wild.
- Eat a Popsicle
Last but not least, eat a Popsicle. What flavor do you like? I like lemon/mint.
Let me know how eating a Popsicle helps you achieve your goals.
Douglas Goldstein, co-author of Rich As A King: How the Wisdom of Chess Can Make You A Grandmaster of Investing, is an avid chess player, international investment advisor, and Certified Financial Planner (CFP®).