5 Keys to Flexible Thinking

Flexibility helps us to better handle the ups and downs of life, to adapt to change, view things from different vantage points, take risks and reconcile our mistakes.  By being more open and fluid in our thinking we become more comfortable with spontaneity, attract more opportunities and access greater creativity as a result.

Being open to alternative solutions and ways of doing things is key to overcoming perfectionism, beating procrastination and avoiding burnout.   Allow yourself to be more spontaneous, try new things and mix up your regular routines.

Here are my five top tips to increase your flexibility:

  • List Your Rules and Routines – Over the course of a week begin to notice your habitual thoughts, responses and behaviors.  Make a note of them and play with the idea of mixing things up and approaching them in an alternative way.
  • Practice Doing Things Differently – Spend an additional week experimenting with small changes to your usual habits; e.g. get out of the opposite side of the bed, use a different shower gel, eat something unusual for breakfast or take a different route to work.This exercise will help live your life with more flexibility and show you that you can do things differently.  It will also help you to become more aware of experiencing each moment, rather than moving through your day-to-day activities on autopilot.

    Notice any rigidness or resistance that you experience in response to this exercise.  It is natural to feel uncomfortable, but stay with it!

  • Hand Over Control – If you usually choose what movie to watch on Friday night, where to take the kids on Saturday’s or what to have for Sunday lunch let someone else make the decisions.  Step back and allow them the space to do it their way, without jumping in to criticize or judge.  Go with it, even if it is not exactly as you would have liked it to be.Instead of looking for ways you would have done it better, try to find all of the positive learning you can take from the experience of releasing the reins.  How might you be able to replicate this in the workplace or other areas of your life?  Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • Practice Active Listening – It can be all too easily to cut someone else off before they have finished speaking because we think we know what they are going to say, or doubt they would have a valuable solution to offer.  When we do this regularly to others they eventually stop sharing their opinions.  Start asking and acknowledging those you usually dismiss.  Take a risk and try out some of their suggestions – you are likely to be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
  • Stop Forcing – Whenever you notice yourself pushing or forcing a desired outcome press pause and breathe.  With each breath focus on bringing a sense of flow back to your body and your mind.  Actively move your body by getting outside and going for a walk, taking a swim, dancing to music, drawing or painting.  Permit yourself to take a break from the project or situation and do something completely unrelated.  This will help to release rigid thinking and regain creativity and flexibility.

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