There are many reasons why we sometimes don’t know what to do next. You may feel completely overwhelmed because you have too many responsibilities; you might feel vaguely uneasy for no apparent reason; you might feel that you can do better than your current career track, but you don’t know how.
There’s a very simple trick you can follow to sort out your frazzled mind and deal with life’s endless demands and distractions that keep you from discovering how best to live your life.
It won’t cost you anything and it requires no special effort.
Here’s what you do: write everything down.
Take a piece of paper and write everything down that’s going on in your life — things you are worried about, every task, large and small, all projects, social obligations, projects you have to do, promises you have to keep. From doing the dishes to doing presentations and everything in between.
The trick is not to write things down in order to sort out your mind – just write everything down indiscriminately.
Why does writing down anything that comes to mind work?
When you write it down, something takes over and the writing becomes more serious and more purposeful.
It’s like magic. In a short while the mind calms down and reorganizes. It probably because in the process of writing, feelings and emotions become clearer and hidden thoughts and feelings come to the surface to bring a more complete light to the situation.
In due time, what’s really bothering you, what has been obscured by incessant worrying and obsessive repetition of the same thoughts, comes to the surface as clear as daylight.
In particular, writing things down produce these 12 beneficial results.
1. It clears your mind and readies it for decision-making
This exercise helps the mind to center and reorganize all those spiraling thoughts that leave you in a fog. You’ll notice a picture emerging of the real issue at hand.
You’ll be able to gain insights because you’ve literally emptied your mind of clutter. Doing this prepares your mind for more important thinking.
2. It clarifies underlying emotions
Writing down what’s on our mind is a meaningful and effective way to process your feelings. Life is complicated and people are complicated. Things happen and sometimes one is so caught up in the moment that you can’t see the wood for the trees.
Writing down your thoughts on an issue is a way to get to your feelings. The more your write, the closer you get to the core feeling at work that’s preventing you from knowing what you really want in life or knowing what’s holding you back.
3. It gives you a record of your development.
If you choose to keep an account of your writing somewhere it can serve as a record of your personal development over time. You can refer back to it and remind yourself of previous insights that have helped you in difficult situations.
You might notice a thread running through your writing which could very well serve as the basis for a self-help book. Wouldn’t that be something?
4. You gain a sense of fulfillment
It is extremely satisfying when writing down your thoughts and feelings results in insights into yourself, other people and situations. You grow in personal wisdom that can serve you, and others, for the rest of your life and that is very fulfilling.
You become an asset to society because you are growing in self-awareness.
5. It helps you to enter the unknown
When you write things down, you set a process in motion that is pure magic — you enter a world of possibility.
The very act of writing everything down unconditionally allows you to explore your wildest dreams, and your most treasured ambitions, opening your mind to untold possibilities which you simply can’t notice when you’re overwhelmed and fretting.
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6. It helps you to take action
There is something about writing thoughts down and not just living with them in your head that solidifies them. They stare up at you from the page and demand action because you’ve put them in the open.
Writing down your thoughts, your plan of action, your ideals and goals for yourself give them the beginnings of live. It’s the first step in making them become reality. And that first step makes it more likely that you will commit and take action in which case you’ll make your dreams come true.
7. Writing makes room for higher levels of thinking to take place
By getting the details and right-now thoughts out of your head on a regular basis, you make room for better, higher-level thoughts.
This means that your brain has room to breathe and you will have more room for great ideas, grand ideas, and solutions to problems that might have even been plaguing you for some time.
8. Writing gives you time and space to process deep-seated emotions
It’s important to spend time writing about your emotions because you’ll come to discover that your emotions are just brought on by thoughts in your head. When you write and are able to get those thoughts out of your head, your bi-product, sometimes negative emotions, go with them.
This means that you won’t be bogged down by heavy thoughts and feelings that leave you feeling uninspired or motivated. We all have way too many thoughts in our brains at any given time. Let some of them out by getting them onto paper.
9. Writing lets you tell your story
We all have amazing stories to tell, but what’s more important than telling a story? Crafting your own understanding of your story. Getting to know yourself through your writing can be incredibly transformative and can help you to find yourself in a new way.
There’s no limit to what you can discover about yourself if you are willing to keep digging. Remember that you don’t have to share any of this information with anyone, so you are free to craft a story that suits your dreams and needs.
10. Writing helps you to feel like you’ve accomplished something
Here’s the thing about writing: when you put pen to paper and see the product of your efforts, you’ll automatically feel better about yourself.
Even if you were writing about a horrible experience, just the act of getting the thoughts out of your head will free your mind to focus on bigger and better things. If you feel stuck, write. If you feel happy, write.
There’s no right or wrong way to do this kind of exercise. The point is to just start.
11. Writing lets you dream bigger than you would if you were saying things out loud
Because nobody is going to read your writing unless you are sharing it on a blog, you never have to worry about someone judging you or saying your dreams are stupid.
Just don’t make the mistake of writing out everything you want in life and then telling yourself it’s stupid. It’s not stupid. Humans are very good at telling ourselves our dreams don’t matter.
But when you put your dreams on the paper, you give them life in a different way and you never know where that might lead.
12. Writing helps you create a routine in your life
Try starting each day or ending every night with a few minutes of writing. Whether you want to write about your gratitude or your dreams, taking time to clear your mind can be really beneficial to you and those around you.
When your brain is not cluttered, you are happier, healthier, and more productive. It’s a win-win situation, so give it a try today and find out for yourself why writing is still cool.
If you aren’t already journaling or writing on a regular basis, you’ll want to start ASAP. That’s because the act of writing to get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper can literally transform your life.
And when you see the positive transformations and changes that happen in your life when you start to work through things through your writing, you want to more of it, more often, and for longer periods of time.
Anyone who has made something of themselves or created something in the world will tell you that they make time to write, even if it is just for themselves, on a regular basis.
The most popular form of writing for personal use is journaling. A lot of people still create blogs for others to read. Whatever you decide, just decide to start writing.
Do you want to make your life better?
If you answered "yes", then you need to check out our free salon, playing for a limited time:
You see, most people believe that the path to changing your life comes from trying to "improve yourself". You've probably been told to "think positively", "creatively visualize" or "repeat affirmations".
In this free salon, Ideapod founder Justin Brown will explain why this is bad advice.
He'll break down the 5 most common myths of the self-help industry and why they’re so dangerous. Justin will also share a powerful 5-step process for creating change within, helping you to immediately create a different relationship with yourself from a place of power.
Justin is the founder of Ideapod and the instructor of Ideapod Academy's new online course: Developing Your Personal Power.