Brain Matters

What do you do to totally shift gears?  Everyone has something they enjoy doing outside the daily or regular routine.  It may be something forgotten or left behind from years ago. How many times have you given thought to things you once enjoyed and would like to pick up again? I tend to be heavily left brained (logical, analytical) and as a result hardly ever give my brain a rest.  I have spent many years ignoring the right brained me thus ignoring my creative, intuitive side. My right brain ruled when I was much younger and at some point my analytical (or pragmatic) side took over.  It is effortless to lean on my creative, intuitive side yet it seems impractical in my daily life and at work.

When I meet people I always wonder what they enjoy doing that is unrelated to work, finances, and the responsibilities of daily life. I believe everyone has a creative side and it is either pushed aside by everything else in life; or it is alive and well.  If pushed aside, your creative side can be resurrected.  It is just a matter of recognizing what gives you relief from the things that tax your brain or are a source of stress.  I find cooking and baking to be therapeutic.  I forget everything else on my mind when I am focused on something I am making in the kitchen. There was a point in time when my current job was numbing my brain.  I felt like I needed to do something in my spare time that was completely different. I enjoy foreign languages and pick them up much faster than, say, a spreadsheet full of numbers and formulas. I started taking Spanish classes for fun which turned out to be a great way to shift gears after work. It is was almost a relief to open a Spanish workbook to learn to conjugate verbs after a day pouring over pricing and budget numbers.  I also enjoy painting with watercolors.  A friend of mine knew I was keeping a somewhat artistic side under wraps and encouraged me to paint around this time last summer. I had not touched a paintbrush in many years; but when I sat down with new brushes and my block of paper, it felt really good. Though I have nothing on Matisse, Klimt or Van Gogh, I do what comes naturally to me.  I put my paints and brushes away months ago and it is about time to take them out again.

Perhaps it is a balancing act.  How do we balance what comes naturally with what requires more effort and persistence?  How do we give ourselves a break?  On some level it is an art form, I suppose, in staying focused on what needs to get done and what you enjoy.  I work with someone in my sales group who is very buttoned up and very data inclined; yet on the weekends sings in a heavy metal cover band.  I would have never guessed this person is musically inclined, much less covering Metallica’s greatest hits. As I think about it, it is probably better for one’s health and well being to unleash that creative side to really exercise the brain. It is really a great way to detach from the day to day. On the flip side, maybe a professional artist needs a few hours a day of crunching numbers?  In my mind, it would be ideal to leverage both the left and the right brain at work or in life in general.  It seems healthy – like a good workout at the gym.  Tap into the analytical side and the intuitive or creative side and see what happens instead of overusing one or stifling the other.  

What’s the Plan?

poHave you ever been in or near your kitchen and suddenly you become acutely aware of your refrigerator humming in the background? It is the kind of thing that is always there but unless you are tuned in it goes unnoticed?  This is how my brain has been operating as relates to the ever popular question of ‘What do I want to do with my life’ – specifically around work. I have had an idea buzzing in back of my head for quite some time.  It is always there and I think about it a few times per day. It fades and it resurfaces based on things I read or something I hear….or during a conference call when I wonder if anyone actually cares about what is being discussed.

The mind works in funny ways.  When I think about what I can do or where I see myself going, I come to a point of feeling unsure or uncertain about the steps I need to take or what I need to lay out for myself.  I suppose I know what I need (a plan); yet I have trouble putting one together for myself.  I feel a traditional or formal business plan would not suit me.  I need something unique and always feel like there is something that I have yet to nail down for myself. I may also be over-thinking.  The irony of this is the time I have spent time working with other people on their new business ideas or other types of ideas. It is something I enjoy doing in my spare time.  In the end, the feedback is always, ‘You should do this as a business.’

Why is it so hard to do something for myself when helping someone else comes naturally?  Once someone shares an idea with me, it is like a switch goes off and ideas or next steps or questions come to mind.  I can envision and layout what is needed to move certain elements forward.  It is more of an intuitive thing I suppose.  I just intuitively know what is needed depending on the situation or the need.  If I believe in the person, their motivation and what they are trying to accomplish, information just comes to me.  With that said, when a person carries a passion for what they do or for what they want to do, it is obvious and it is rewarding to see someone succeed or make progress.

When you are on your own or working with an idea, sometimes figuring out a plan can be challenging. What steps to take, what to do, oh and have I lost my mind?  Self doubt is so typical and so human.  It is funny when a friend encourages me or acknowledges my potential.  It is hard to dispute the feedback of someone who knows me and what I can do.  I met someone recently who said, “This is what I see you doing.  What is your plan for this and that and the other thing.”   Waving a magic wand seems a bit outlandish.  I probably have to figure out how to get out of my own way and start to really work it out.