No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking. – Voltaire
How to Think in a More Optimal Way
What if I told you that you could optimize how you think about your life and circumstances in a way that allows you to solve problems more effectively, to think more critically, and explore ideas more creatively? What if I told you that thinking this way would help you to make better decisions, to take more decisive action, and to see the world from a much clearer and more advantageous perspective?
How we consistently think about our life and circumstances significantly influences the quality of life we live. In fact, your thoughts influence everything you do and feel. More specifically, they influence how you perceive the world around you, and as such, they influence the emotions you experience throughout the day. And of course, these emotions impact the actions you will take or refrain from taking. Therefore, your thoughts directly influence the results you’re able to realize at each moment.
Given all this, it’s quite clear that our thoughts are extremely powerful. In fact, they are the central force that guides everything we do and experience each day. Therefore, it could be said that by changing how you think about your life and circumstances, you can almost instantly alter the course of your life. But how do we do this? How do we get started? How can we begin thinking about our life and circumstances in more optimal ways?
There are several ways we could, of course, go about this. One way is to address the various unhelpful thinking styles that significantly influence how we interpret the world around us. You could also get into the habit of thinking more creatively and critically about the problems and circumstances you face. These are all, of course, great starting points, however, to truly optimize how you think requires developing resourceful thinking habits.
Resourceful thinking involves a process of thinking about your life and circumstances that allow you to get the most from yourself in any situation. Moreover, it’s about making the most of every situation you find yourself in. And all this, of course, requires that you think about your life and circumstances in a very specific way that naturally allows you to be more resourceful.
Introducing 360 Degree Thinking
Thinking more resourcefully about your life and problems requires three key elements that typically come into play. These elements are essentially methods we can use to effectively think about a situation. They include using:
These three ways of thinking about something provide you a comprehensive 360-degree view of the circumstances you face. As such, in combination, these elements provide a platform that instigates the process of 360 Degree Thinking.
How you think about the problems you face effectively determines how resourceful you become in that instance.
Thinking about your problems in a less than optimal way will stir up unresourceful emotions, which subsequently impacts the actions you take and the results you eventually realize. Given this, it’s quite clear to see how taking the time to optimize how we think can significantly influence the choices and decisions we make throughout the day.
Let’s now explore each of these three methods of thinking to determine how they can be used to help you optimize how you think about your life and circumstances in order to get the best possible outcome from every situation you face.
How to Develop Your Hindsight
Hindsight is the ability to critically examine your past performance. It allows you a comprehensive understanding of a situation or event where you extrapolate past knowledge and experience to help you improve future decisions.
It’s advantageous because it helps you learn from mistakes, problems, failure, setbacks, and from past successes. As a result of these learning experiences, you can, therefore, adjust your course of action in order to move forward in more optimal ways.
Developing hindsight requires periods of deep self-reflection. For instance, taking the time to review the decisions you made and the actions you took at the end of your day will help you to strengthen your hindsight muscle. Ask yourself:
What did I do today?
What decisions did I make?
What actions did I take?
What challenges did I face?
How did I handle these challenges?
How did I handle my emotions while facing these challenges?
How do I feel about all this?
Am I making any assumptions?
How else could I think about these challenges that I faced today?
What can I learn from today’s experience?
What could I have done differently?
Where could I improve for next time?
How must I adapt moving forward?
Developing your hindsight in this way allows you to potentially see how things could have been different. As a result, you are now more aware of the decisions you made and the decisions you could have made that might have led to a varying set of outcomes. This now encourages you to think more progressively about your life and circumstances the next time you find yourself in a similar situation. In other words, you have successfully grown from the experience and are likely to make more effective decisions moving forward.
When it comes to hindsight, it’s however important to note that we should never use the past as a primary barometer for making future decisions. Every moment and every situation you face is unique in its own way. What worked today might very well not work tomorrow, even if the circumstances are very similar. As such, it’s important to always bridge together hindsight with good foresight and insight in order to optimize how you think about a situation.
How to Develop Your Foresight
Foresight is the ability to predict future events, changes, trends and the consequences of your actions. Moreover, it’s the ability to explore alternative courses of decision and action, or in other words, alternate scenarios that could potentially unfold.
It’s advantageous because it helps provide you with clarity about what potentially lies ahead along your journey. With this clarity in mind, you are better able to spot opportunities and far less likely to make mistakes. As such, foresight improves your ability to make more effective decisions about the problems and circumstances you face.
Foresight, of course, works in tandem with hindsight in that you are constantly using your past as a barometer in order to potentially predict the future, and therefore make more effective decisions moving forward in the present.
Developing foresight requires having the ability to successfully address potential threats and future needs in advance. It’s essentially about planning ahead while also gathering the necessary resources and tools required in the present to help you achieve your desired goals and future objectives.
Foresight requires an ability to think ahead; to see how things will be, given past events, experiences and present circumstances. It requires asking:
What is the future impact of this decision?
How does this decision influence future decisions?
What are the consequences of taking this action?
What opportunities could result from taking this action?
What problems could potentially arise by staying this course?
What if things go wrong? How will I respond?
What’s my plan B or C when what I expect to happen doesn’t go to plan?
What could happen if…?
Foresight isn’t an exact science. It’s rather more of a gamble where you attempt to make the best decision possible based on a combination of lessons learned from the past and insights gained from the present. Taking these two factors into account allows you to generate possible future scenarios that help you to make more optimal decisions moving forward.
How to Gather More Insights
Insight is the ability to discern the true nature of a situation. It’s essentially about making sense of your surroundings as well as the cause-effect relationships around you. In other words, it’s about gaining an accurate understanding of the people, events, and circumstances of your life.
Insight is often a catalyst for creativity, innovation and for inspiration. It’s something that brings to light those “eureka” moments when all the pieces suddenly come together. It’s as though you have stepped out of a dark and now finally see things in a brand new way that opens the door to a world of new opportunities and possibilities.
It must, however, be said that the insights you gain from a situation are nothing more but your interpretations of reality that are based on your past experiences (hindsight), and your perceptions and expectations of the future (foresight). Insight, therefore, works in combination with these two ways of thinking, in fact, it’s significantly influenced by both, for better or worse.
This, of course, does not mean that the insights you gather in the present moment about your life and/or circumstances are wrong. Yes, they may certainly be biased. The way each of us sees the world is biased in some shape or form. However, this really isn’t of significance. What’s significant is that how we see things helps us move forward in a better way. And of course, gaining ever deeper insights into a situation will certainly do that for you. It will at the very least help you see the situation in a clearer light so that you can make more optimal decisions moving forward.
Gathering insight is of course not easy. It requires a natural craving and hunger for knowledge and understanding. In other words, you must want to know more about a situation; kind of like peeling back layers of an onion until you get to that central core. And all this, of course, requires sustained levels of introspection, investigation and deep curiosity.
Gathering insight also requires being fully present and mindful of the moment, as well as of your thoughts and actions. This is all about deeply paying attention to the patterns evident in the events and circumstances around you, along with how they impact you on a deeper internal level. In ways, it’s about intuition, and about paying attention to your intuitive thoughts and feelings to help you make better sense of everything that is going on around you.
Gathering insight requires improving your observation skills. It requires carefully observing the world around you and making sense of it through asking insightful questions about yourself, about others and about the circumstances you find yourself in. For example:
Why do I do what I do? How is this of significance?
What do others need? Why is that important?
What is happening here? Why is it happening? What does it mean?
What is the problem? How did it become a problem? Why is it still a problem?
Why are things the way they are and not any different?
How did this come about and why does it matter?
What’s the value of knowing this? How does it change how I see things?
What’s another way to look at this situation? Why is that important?
Why did that happen? What led to that? What came before that? What’s the connection?
How are these two things related? Why are they related in this way?
How was that created? Why was it created? How could it be different?
Asking these kinds of questions throughout the day allows you to be very mindful and present of each moment. It allows you to tune-in to things at a deeper level. As such, you gain a deeper understanding of why things are the way they are and how they could potentially be different. You effectively become “one” with everything around you instead of just being a passive observer. As a result, you begin thinking more critically about yourself, about others and about the circumstances you are dealing with. This subsequently stimulates deeper levels of thought, enabling you to draw conclusions about things that others have never even considered. And that is essentially where deep levels of insight come from.
So why does all this matter? Why is it important to adopt 360-degree thinking into your life?
All this matters because often we jump to quick conclusions about how things are and about how they ought to be. Moreover, we don’t learn from our past experiences, and therefore make less than optimal decisions about our future, which hurts us in the long-run. As a result, we continuously make the same mistakes and errors in thinking that lead us astray with poor results and unfavorable outcomes.
360-degree thinking is about learning from the past, to gain a better understanding of the present, to make more optimal decisions moving forward into the future. It’s about thinking in a way that allows you to see the big picture, while also paying careful attention to the little fine details stemming from every situation you face. In this way you grasp a 360-degree view of the circumstances you find yourself in, and can, therefore, make more optimal decisions moving forward.
Life is full of problems, and the only way to improve our chances of overcoming most of these problems is to optimize how we think about them. 360-degree thinking provides you with a platform for doing exactly that.
Using hindsight you will learn from past mistakes and errors that led to the formation of your problem. Using insight will help you better understand the dynamics of your problem and how it affects you and those around you. Moreover, insight allows you to spot opportunities and solutions to help you solve the problem. And of course, using foresight will help you to better pave the way forward when it comes to handling similar problems far more effectively in the future.
Yes, 360-degree thinking can certainly be of tremendous value. However, the value you gain from it personally depends entirely on how much effort you put into developing this critical life skill. This is something that nobody else can do for you. So make a commitment and take full responsibility for changing your life one thought at a time.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Would you like to optimize how you think about this topic? Would you like a method for applying these ideas to your life?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I’m confident you will gain tremendous value from using the accompanying IQ Matrix for coaching or self-coaching purposes. This mind map provides you with a quick visual overview of the article you just read. The branches, interlinking ideas, and images model how the brain thinks and processes information. It’s kind of like implanting a thought into your brain – an upgrade of sorts that optimizes how you think about these concepts and ideas. 🙂
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- How to Improve Your Decision Making by Thinking Like an Artist @ Inc.
- Should You Trust Your Insight? @ Psychology Today
- Using Hindsight to Build Foresight @ Personal Branding Blog