Have you ever been somewhere when suddenly your stomach started telling you, and everyone within 10 feet of you, that it is time to eat? I was at a conference that included a continental breakfast. You know the ones with the great muffins topped with sugar granules, bagels with cream cheese, and danishes. Love it…except when I am watching my carbs, which at 5 feet tall, is pretty much all the time! I had been doing so good and was starting to see results so, at this conference, I mustered up as much will power as I could and took only a sixth of the bagel followed by lots of water with the hope that it would be enough to satisfy my stomach until lunch. Well…my hopes were crushed as I sat at the table and around 10:45 am and my stomach announced it was ready for more food. It was so loud that others at the table couldn’t help but look at me and wonder if I was ok. Embarrassing, to say the least. Our bodies tell us when it’s time to eat but do our minds do the same thing?
When was the last time your mind sent a clear signal, “Hey, I’m hungry, feed me!” It happens a lot more than we think but we don’t often recognize it. Have you ever sat in a meeting and something was said and you don't understand it? Luckily it's not crucial to your role so what do you do? Do you forget about it and go back to your routine thus missing an opportunity to grow? We are constantly feeding our mind but how often are we intentional about it? Feeding your mind is as important as feeding your body and what you feed it should be intentional. If your “mind meal” consists of thought-provoking ideas, they will act as a catalyst for your brain to want more, and help to inspire you towards greater success.
How often do you intentionally feed your mind? Think about it. How much time do you watch television in comparison to how much time you spend reading books? Or researching a topic on the internet? Television is like “fast food” for your mind. It might satisfy you in the moment and is fine occasionally, however, rarely is it educational, rendering large amounts of television unhealthy food for your mind. Idowu Koyenikan is quoted as saying, “The mind is just like a muscle - the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets and the more it can expand.”
Here are a few ideas to feed perpetual learning, advance your thinking, and expand your understanding, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time:
1. Find easy ways to incorporate using your mind into everyday activities. Avoid using a calculator for simple math, play scrabble, do a crossword puzzle or other word puzzles that stimulate your mind to think in new ways. Engage in social learning by going to a new restaurant with friends. Volunteer at a local nonprofit organization and learn about their mission and services.
2. Challenge your mind. When you hear a word that you don’t recognize, look it up. When you see a new bug in your yard or a new flower somewhere, research information and learn about it. Look for items that are different or that you are not familiar with and find out more about them.
3. Set a goal of learning something new every day. Whether it’s a trivia fact or something related to your business, it will stimulate your brain. If you learn one new item every day, that’s at least 365 new thoughts or ideas each year.
4. Designate “dinner time” for your mind. Set aside time to feed your mind. Put it on your calendar. It may be first thing in the morning, during a break, or later in the evening. Make an appointment for “dinner” and keep it a priority.
5. Invest in yourself. While some people are hesitant, it’s ok to spend money on investing in yourself. Education and knowledge are some of the few things that can’t be taken from you. While pursuing a formal degree may be the first thing that comes to mind, there are many other ways to invest in yourself.
Sign up for an audiobook subscription and listen to books in the car or while you are exercising. I use Audible making it easy to add to the number of books I “read” each month.
Read books. Most CEOs statistically read many more books than the average person because they understand the value of continuous learning.
Listen to podcasts.
Research to identify trends and updates in your industry and your job.
Subscribe to blogs that challenge your thinking and encourage you to see things differently.
Take an online course. Several organizations offer online learning. Here are a few popular sites to consider: LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses), and yes…while it might not be a course, you can learn from YouTube. There are so many more online resources so start exploring options today!
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” – Plutarch