3 Steps to Think Clearly and Creatively

The more we stress about our problems, the bigger they get.

Sometimes the best thing to do is let go of our problems. Not to give up, but to let up – and make some “space.”

One day last week I took the afternoon off. Even though it was during the week I decided to go on a date with my wife. No blackberries, hand held devices or computers. No email. Just the two of us hanging out for the afternoon; just like we used to when we first met.

It was such a great afternoon. I forgot about all my problems. I forget about all my concerns and I forget about my work. That evening, 8 or so hours later I solved two of my biggest problems… one of which didn’t require any work on my part. The other one came to me as a new idea.

How did I do it? What’s my secret?

Here are the three steps to think more clearly and creatively:

Step 1: Think on Paper (30 Minutes)

There is a quote from one of the Rich Dad’s from the popular book Rich Dad, Poor Dad Book. He said, “Always think on paper.”

I’ve always loved this quote and lived this. I have a white board in my office where I do all of my thinking. I draw and doodle; I connect the dots. I look to see how things flow together. I cut and paste. I use words and text to mold my ideas and explore my problems.

Once I’ve emptied my head I’m then ready to…

2. Mastermind (1 hour)

The phrase “two heads are better than one” is an understatement. Masterminding is when you have two or more people brainstorming and working together to come up with new solutions to problems. It’s also a great tool for generating new ideas.

My business partner and I have these mastermind sessions quite often. We use these sessions to brainstorm ideas and bounce new concepts off each other. Before we start our mastermind sessions, we normally ask ourselves these 4 questions:

  • What is this meeting about?
  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • What are the challenges we want to overcome?
  • How will this help us? Our clients? Our business?

These are great questions to ask yourself when masterminding. Just let the ideas flow and you’ll be surprised at how crazy and remarkable the solutions will be.

The last step is to…

3. Take a Mini-Vacation (2-6 hours)

Take a what? Yes, a mini-vacation.

Decompress and disconnect. This has helped me solve my biggest problems with the least amount of effort.

You’ve got to give your subconscious breathing room. It’s part of letting go and trusting in yourself. My best ideas are not the ones I get during a mastermind session or when I’m writing them out. They come 2-48 hours after I’ve done my deep thinking or had a really good masterminding session.

So the trick is to be patient; to let go and relax. The more relaxed you are the better. That’s why I suggest taking a min-vacation; taking a nap, go for a walk in nature or socialize with friends. Just give yourself a break. The ideas will come.

What do you do to think more clearly and get your creative juices going?


  • Dhansuhka

    Reply Reply November 22, 2010

    Hi.. Steve,

    wish you’re keeping fine.Under master mind you have mentioned about “What are the challenges we want to overcome?”. It’s a negative thought I think. What i believe is we should not consider them as challenges and it might be options that you have. So when you think about a challenge rather than an option, you’re challenging yourself rather choosing the options available and it could be lead to a negative thought. What do you think about it? Awaiting for your opinions.Thank you.

    Have a nice day!


  • Steve

    Reply Reply November 23, 2010

    Hey Dhanushka,

    That is a solid point. That question could be viewed as a negative thought depending on your point of view… When I ask the question, “What are the challenges we want to overcome?” …it is very empowering – it makes me feel good because it leads me to a place where I want to be – but it may not produce the same response for everyone.

    The only way to know if it is a negative thought is by the way it feels when you ask the question. In my case it feels good and is therefore a positive thought. You always want to work backwards from feeling to thought.

    But with that being said, the words alone only count for approx 7% of the communication we send ourselves. When I say those words, “What are the challenges we want to overcome?” …I can already see that I have overcome those challenges and that I’m safely on the other side… which gives me that empowering feeling that things are going to work out.

    So just by asking that question, I feel empowered and also relaxed.. that’s the other 93% of my communication that you didn’t hear ;)

    How does that question make you feel, Dhanushka?

  • Dhansuhka

    Reply Reply November 23, 2010

    Hi Steve,

    It’s love to hearing from you. Yes of course anything could be viewed as a negative thought depending on your point of view. For myself also I felt the word ‘challenge’ as a negative feeling which could be discouraged my tasks ahead. The point that you have made absolutely correct if anyone feels good if they could foresee the challenges are overcoming.

    I’m pretty interesting about thinking backward way you mentioned (feeling to thought). If you could explain about it more with examples it would be help to other readers too.

    Thank you very much & very kind for you.


  • Steve

    Reply Reply November 24, 2010

    Sounds good Dhanushka.. keep an eye on my blog for more articles/videos on this topic of thinking backwards…

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