Now that I have my own business, it seems that my mind is harder to shut off. I think about Signature, our graduates, our new participants, and my employees constantly. When I’m working out, driving, hiking, and even sleeping, I’m thinking about the business. Often, my best thoughts occur during these activities. Until recently. Now, my personal life to-do list has taken over my unconscious thoughts, mixing with and disrupting the productive business ideas. It feels like trying to separate salt from sugar.
Not long ago, I did the Whole30 program to take control of my nutrition with intentionality for 30 days. Whole30 is a type of cleanse which explicitly lists what you can eat and drink over the next 30 days, and what you cannot. It is a disciplined way to STOP bad habits. For the first few weeks, it requires conscious thought and a lot of discipline. Soon, you no longer need to think about it. The 30 days made a noticeable difference to increase my energy and reset my unconscious thoughts so I could quiet those cravings. After the program, I slowly added a few things back into my diet, but they were controllable. I could decide which foods to allow back in and when.
I began to wonder (probably around 3am one morning), “Why don’t we do a Whole30 for our minds? A 30-day BRAIN cleanse.” If we can be intentional about our choices of food, why not take the same approach to be conscious and intentional about other things in our lives? I tried it. And it was fabulous.
We all have things on our to-do lists that are not priorities, but nonetheless, they nag at us day and night. By telling myself I would NOT think about certain things for 30 days, I removed a significant amount of rumination. I slept better. I had more energy. I certainly had more focus and productivity.
What were some of the things I consciously removed? I started with things I needed to do at my house that had been on my list for more than a month. For instance, I have a bath mat with a tattered edge that I’ve been meaning to replace. Every time I see it, it bugs me to no end that I haven’t remembered to buy a new one. And as soon as I step out of the bathroom, it is forgotten. But I must think about that bath mat twice a day – 60 times a month! Instead of beating myself up, I chose to stop thinking about it for 30 days. For the first week, I still thought about it twice a day. Each time, I would call out the thought and remind myself it didn’t matter until next month. By the middle of week 2, the nagging stopped clouding my thoughts.
The next challenge, and the biggest difference, happened by removing negative thoughts about some of my relationships. I identified two relationships that constantly took my mindshare, and it was pulling me down. I couldn’t seem to change the relationships, but I constantly thought about them. I put them on my “no thoughts” list, and I gave myself permission to stop worrying about them for 30 days. This was much more difficult than the bath mat, but the cleanse was powerful. It allowed me to “re-enter” the relationships after 30 days with a renewed perspective and a different approach.
Just like my diet, the key to day 31 is to be very intentional about what thoughts I began to let back in. Some, like my bath mat, will need to be dealt with. But there are others that I may never let back in because leaving space in my head that’s not dedicated to unproductive thoughts allows me to think. I’m more thoughtful, more innovative, more rested, and happier.
Sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to let our minds wander. Why not try my Whole30 for the mind? Let me know what you choose to give up thinking about!