Creative dreamers are not usually thoughtful planners. We thrive on ideas, excitement and passion… We see the big picture but, more often than not, we miss the little details and the small, required steps to reach the destination we envision. However, planning precedes deliberative action and needless to say that if you are trying to develop a project or launching a business idea, planning is key to accomplish your goal. I will risk to say that if you don’t plan, you will hardly be successful at all.
Another thing that creative dreamers and innovators are usually very good at is having what buddhist monks call a monkey mind. I always introduce my students and clients to this interesting and yet accurate metaphor: our mind behaves like a monkey, when it hasn’t been disciplined. In other words, our mind acts like a curious, undisciplined monkey, jumping from branch to branch, looking for entertainment and possibly bananas. In a very crude way, we are not much different: our mind jumps from thought to thought, constantly getting distracted and unable to focus its attention in only one thing at a time.
To be fair, creativity depends on this intricate and complex change of thoughts and ideas. I would even say that creativity is messy in its raw nature. It’s not linear, it likes to run wild and free, matching and mismatching concepts. We need that type of thinking process if we want to come up with solutions and better alternatives, but creativity without discipline makes our reality chaotic and unproductive, since generation of consistent and well-grounded actions are almost impossible. You may get a fairly good result, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be as impactful in the long-term as if you had planned and thought about the small details and potential obstacles to your success.
My mind has been one of the most misbehaved monkeys I’ve known of, with little concern for long-term planning and robustness. It runs after ideas like a chocoholic runs after chocolate. It doesn’t stop and it doesn’t take a break to think it through. Once an idea comes, my monkey mind starts to race without a single care about details. The result has been an almost permanently scattered mind and heart, jumping from project to project with no middle or ending plan, which hasn’t been good at all when the goal is to create a sustainable and thriving human journey.
Two things have helped me manage and discipline my monkey mind though: mindfulness meditation and the constant reminder that I need to tackle one project at a time and not thousands of them in a month. I need to be better at planning, more strategic, so that I can be then effective. Meditation helps me by reducing my mind’s reactivity and unconscious tendency to pursue entertainment. It also taught me to be more patient with myself, because meditation is especially hard for those who are used to be wired all the time.
I’m still learning about strategic thinking but providing structure to my day through to-do lists has helped me to stay focused on tasks I really need to handle in order to be productive. Every side idea that comes up, and it’s not directly linked to the tasks I have at hand, is written down on a post-it or piece of paper that I review later. I now realise that having a series of scattered accomplishments is not as impactful as having one or two solid and interwoven accomplishments. On other words, you may have achieved a lot in your life already, but if there is a scattered feeling of disconnection between your achievements that’s possibly one of the reasons why you don’t feel as successful as you think you should. At least, I know that was my case.