Want to unlock your deepest aspirations? Eliminate mental barriers? Rid yourself of draining personal and professional relationships? Take out a pen and paper. Put on some soothing background music, like Jimmy Fallon does when writing his faux thank-you letters on The Tonight Show. Give yourself five minutes to write down everything you hate about a situation.
According to the National Science Foundation, an average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80 percent are negative, and 95 percent are repetitive (think auto-pilot). So, if it’s a slow day and you only have 12,000 thoughts, 9,600 of them do not serve you. However, all is not lost. Those negative thoughts can help you if you learn to use them constructively.
Ellen Rogin, an acclaimed money expert and New York Times bestselling author, recommends you start the process of creating meaningful goals by digging into the negatives first. For most people, she notes, it's much easier to identify what they don't like. During a recent masterclass for financial advisors, Ellen posed the following question for her students to answer: "What drives me crazy about the way people handle their money?" I was able to write down eight important points within two minutes. Her next question: "What do I hate about my industry?" I identified four things, dwelled on them for a few moments, then somehow felt lighter and more relaxed.
Ellen then pivoted with questions focusing on positives. She asked us to list things important to us and that we believe to be true. These exercises helped launch me toward the compilation and completion of a business manifesto, a public declaration of what my company and I value. A well-crafted manifesto guides your decisions and inspires those with whom you share it.
In a few months we will debut an elegantly designed manifesto on our website. I’ve got the complaints out of my system. So should you. Doing so helps free your thoughts. You can then decide what's important to you and who you want to be.