When was the last time you thought deeply about where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there?
Many of us tend to wait until we are forced to pause and reflect on our thoughts, actions, and goals. However, what if we actively sought out these opportunities instead of waiting for them to arise or being prompted by external circumstances?
What if you took the initiative to create the time and space to reflect on your current path and desired direction and see if they align? And what if you used those insights to make decisions about your next steps?
Several years ago, the Co-Founders of the telos institute – Rick Simmons and Amy Simmons – began carving out “think weeks” once a quarter to do just that: to take a step back from their daily routines and consider the past, present, and future of their business. These think weeks allowed them to get away from the office and home and think about the direction of the telos institute and how to achieve their goals.
Amy recalls being at the airport in Cleveland, waiting for a flight to Iceland, where they were scheduled to have their think week, when a stranger asked about their travel plans. Amy explained the purpose of their trip, and the stranger responded, “Wow, I wish I could do that.”
A few months later, Rick and Amy spoke with a pair of business partners who also expressed interest in taking a similar time-out for reflection and contemplation. The partners said they couldn’t get away from the office for such an extended time, let alone at the same time.
Through these interactions, Rick and Amy realized that many people have a distorted perspective on the importance of taking time for reflection. Rather than searching for rare opportunities to step away from your day-to-day, they argue that it is essential to prioritize time for this type of deep, meaningful work.
You don’t have to go to a place as far-flung as Iceland to get your thinking done, though it certainly helps.
Here’s why think weeks – and pre-planned moments of reflection – make a difference:
- Gain a deeper understanding of yourself, your priorities, and your goals. A change of scenery (taking a walk in nature or changing the location where you work) can catalyze reflection, allowing you to reassess what you know. Any situation that takes you out of your comfort zone and exposes you to new experiences can provide an opportunity for deep thinking and consideration.
- Identify patterns in your behavior that may be holding you back, and make changes to improve your mental and emotional well-being. Research has shown that participation in long-term, lifelong learning programs can benefit people as they navigate the challenges of competitive professional environments. These programs, designed to help individuals develop a sense of purpose and well-being by recognizing the benefits of aging and building resilience through life transitions, can be particularly effective in helping people understand and make the most of their experiences during various stages of life.
- Clear your mind and refocus your energy to boost your productivity and performance. We do not simply gain knowledge through experiences; instead, we learn from reflecting on and reconstructing those experiences. This process requires a learning environment that allows for risk-taking and exploration. It applies to people of all ages who seek to acquire new skills and succeed – and thrive – in unfamiliar situations. We all need to carve out time for exploring the unknown and reflecting on what we have learned through those experiences.
Dedicating time to this type of break, often called a think week, is beneficial for personal and professional growth.
Is it time for a “think week” soon?