I believe in getting things done. You have to take action if you want to achieve your goals, and I can’t stress enough the importance of being productive everyday.
That being said there is a difference between being productive and forcing it.
Sometimes when we are in a traffic jam, the last thing we want to do is put the pedal to the metal. It will only make things worse and prolong your problem situation. These traffic jams are a part of life, so accept them and let things unfold instead of constantly pushing forward without paying attention to your situation.
Albert Einstein loved to take naps. Whenever he was working on a particularly difficult problem that he just couldn’t crack, he would take a nap. He said he would do this to give his conscious, analytical mind a break, rest and relax, and let his subconscious mind work on his problem in his sleep.
I’ve written articles in the past about the power of the subconscious mind, and how it is where real mental strength lies.
But the subconscious mind is something that works in the background. It is what beats your heart, digests your food, and grows your hair and nails. It also works on ideas. If you have something that is bothering you or you have a problem you are trying to solve, maybe you are too close to it. Maybe you need to give it some space.
Try taking a nap, going for a run, or doing something to relax while letting your subconscious do some heavy lifting for you. Sometimes you just can’t force it and need to give your ideas a little breathing room.
Give Your Ideas Time to Incubate
Wells wrote a really great article on Endlessly combining ideas to advance the world, and this concept belongs in the same vein. We all have so many ideas that are sloshing around in our heads, mixing together, recombining and making new ideas. Sometimes this isn’t instant though.
A few years ago, when I’m in college, I get really into learning how to trade in the financial markets. I read tons of books, and I’m lucky enough to have some money in a trading account to experiment with. Over the next few years I really dive deep into the markets, learning as much as I can both from books and from my own experience.
At one point, my trading slows down, although I do keep reading and learning new ideas. And it’s in this reflection period when I slow down and let these ideas swirl around in the background, instead of constantly thinking about them and often over analyzing.
Fast forward to present day, and many of the ideas I learn from trading in the financial markets become the foundation of how I handle my finances, and manage risk in everyday life.
These are concepts I use in college to learn how money works and how to invest it correctly, and after a period of incubation, these thoughts resurface in the form of strengthened ideas and applications to use in more areas of my life than simply trading. The main point here is that at a certain point, I give my ideas room and time to grow. You can’t force a plant to grow, and if you overdo it you will stress the plant out and possibly stunt its growth.
Another example is some of the behavioral psychology I study back in college.
In college, I spend a lot of my time reading books, watching videos and experiments involving various aspects of psychology. In time, I learn that these concepts are not only useful in everyday life and in social situations, but are also applicable to the stock market and trading. (One of the most important things I’ve learned about the stock market is that it’s all about crowd psychology. What you see on a stock chart is nothing but mass psychology quantified as a number. Fascinating.)
Fast forward to present day, and these concepts swirl around enough in my subconscious mind, outside of my conscious attention, and resurface in the form of new ideas and insights into how the human mind works, and more importantly, how we can use our own mindset to improve ourselves and the lives of people around us.
The point I am making here is that while you may be learning something you believe is important, be patient. What you are learning and devoting your time to now is very important, so continue to believe in what you are doing. But also realize that it may take some time for new information to integrate with your experience and form your own understanding of how things work. Otherwise you are just spouting off about something you are passionate about that is written by someone else.
Take your time, appreciate the journey, and remember the things that you have dedicated your time to in the past. See what thoughts and ideas are currently resurfacing in your life right now thanks to the hard work you might have put in years ago. Be open to how you can use your own experience and your own voice to contribute to and improve yourself and the world around you.
*Think of your ideas and skills as plants. Sometimes you can’t force a plant to grow or to bear fruit. You just have to take care of it, and guide it along instead of ordering it around. There is a time and a place for putting the pedal to the metal, but it’s not every situation you come across.