Unthinking

Most of us think too much. In sports we call it “choking”.

It’s that experience of standing over the winning putt and being unable to shut off that voice giving you instructions. It’s the situation where your inner chatter gets in the way of smooth execution.

Unthinking is the ability to remove your conscious mind from whatever activity you are engaged in…and allowing your instinct to take over, instinct based on knowledge, practice, and years of experience. To unthink you first must have thought. Thought long and hard about things and practiced over a period of time so your unconscious has the information to be able to do the right thing.

We call this “being in the zone”.  The zone, that place where you operate on instinct and often have no conscious recollection of what you did while in this place.  And yet, the zone is also that place where most of us do our best work, that place where we let our unconscious take over…totally.

The world is complex and becoming more so at an increasing pace.  We are overwhelmed with information. As we get older we learn more and more, our experience base increases, and we begin to overthink. We have too much information. And so, we overthink…and often choke.

You need to learn to unthink, to turn off the internal voice and end the continual self-analysis, to trust your gut.

Over the years I’ve talked to quite a few executives and other people. I often hear them say that their gut told them to do something but instead they used their head and thought about it and then did what their head said, and it didn’t work out very well.  I have never heard anyone tell me the opposite: their gut was wrong.

In many situations your gut has a great advantage over your head: it doesn’t have a brain. No internal voice, no neverending self reflection, no second guessing. Just a rapid decision based on an unthinking evaluation. Heuristics at work.

But how to cure overthinking? It is difficult in an everconnected world where you are inundated with information about everything. Constantly. How to unthink when enveloped in data and detail. How to spend more time in the zone and less with that internal voice second guessing and overthinking?

Relax. Stop worrying that you missed something or need just one more data point. Give your brain a rest. Do more of whatever it is that you enjoy…and where your unconsious gets a chance to be in charge.

Take clarity breaks often. 

Clarity breaks, those breaks from routine where you go off with a pad and pen, not a computer, and allow your thoughts to run free.  Those breaks where you turn off your conscious brain and allow your unconscious to be in charge.  Some people go off to Starbucks with a yellow legal pad and pen and spend an hour staring out the window. Some go for long walks in the woods.

Some take long showers.  Yes, the reason you have those great thoughts in the shower: unthinking at work.

Improve your decision making…and golf game. Unthink.

 

 

 

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