Man, by nature, is never satisfied. He always wants more, and will therefore go out seeking for more. It has to be bigger and better; it just has to be… more.

However, man is also, by nature, often impatient. As a result, they are willing to settle and be contented with half measures. They set their goals quite low or moderately high, thinking that is one way of being realistic. This pretty much infers to a contradiction of sorts; he wants something big, but as for obtaining that something big, he’s not thinking big enough. It does not match, so they end up thinking small or, well, not big enough.

181 - How To Think Really, Really Big

In this article, you will understand 1) what prevents you from thinking really big and 2) how you can think really-really big.

INTRODUCTION TO THINKING BIG

Psychologists and experts on the study of human nature are often heard harping about how man’s biggest enemy is himself. That is why, when it comes to dreaming, planning or even thinking, he is his own worst enemy. We are the ones who set limitations for ourselves, but not all of us are inclined to think big.

Many are under the impression that thinking big means coming up with ideas that will shake the foundations of what you’ve always believed. It could be something outrageous, or something that no one has ever thought of before.

Thinking big does not necessarily have to be something as earth-shaking or ground-breaking as that. If you are suddenly feeling restless of the status quo, and you want something better for yourself, you are already getting started on your journey towards thinking big. Maybe you have always been an employee and now you want to stop being bound to a 9-to-5 desk job and start a business for yourself. Maybe you are a businessman but you want to make your business bigger, or take it to new heights.

When you want to rise above the current situation you are in, that is already thinking big. But there is a difference between thinking big, and thinking really, really big. Why take one step up when you can take ten?

The most successful entrepreneurs and the richest men and women in the world, especially those who started from close to nothing, are where they are right now because they thought really, really big. And yes, everyone can do it, too.

WHAT PREVENTS YOU FROM THINKING REALLY BIG

Before we can figure out how to think big, it is important to first get to the root of the problem. What is stopping you from thinking big? We can name several reasons or factors, but we can simplify them into two categories: Fear and Exhaustion.

Fear

This is often the root of all problems of humans, leading to inaction, delays in taking action, or even committing the wrong action. We are afraid of saying the wrong thing, so we keep our mouths shut, even if we know we are right. We are afraid of other people rejecting our ideas, so we do not say them, even if we think that we have a brilliant idea that has more than a possible chance of succeeding. We are afraid of alienating other people so we refuse to be honest with what we are thinking and feeling. We are afraid of losing, so we do not even make an attempt at winning. We are afraid of failing big-time, so we self-consciously avoid thinking big.

According to Donald Trump, one of the most successful businessmen in the world today, the reason why most people think small is because they are “afraid of success, afraid of making decisions, and afraid of winning”. In short, their fear was holding them back from thinking big. It stifles their creativity, and keeps them from putting their ideas into action.

The concept of high risk, high return in business is one representation of this. The ones who are more willing to take on big risks are bound to reap the bigger returns. If they are too afraid to take risks, then they will end up nowhere and remain stuck where they were originally in the beginning.

Fear also often comes in the guise of procrastination. We frequently hear of, or encounter, individuals who are putting things off, saying they will do something the next day or later because of some reason or another. However, if you look closely, these are simply delaying tactics that are indicative of their uncertainty and their fear. They are afraid that it might not work out as they want it to be, so they are trying to delay it as much as they can.

Exhaustion

Humans have a tendency of overanalyzing things. We often hear the phrase “thinking too much”. Analysis takes a toll on people, and doing too much of it, especially when it is deemed unnecessary, is not doing them any favors.

People end up expending their energy on the things that are not really all that relevant, that when they get around to thinking about the matters that they need to act on, they are already too drained to think.

HOW YOU CAN THINK REALLY-REALLY BIG

Wholly embrace the idea of positive thinking, and put it into practice

For many people, this is probably one of the most difficult things to do. This is because it involves working on your attitude and doing a complete overhaul. One of the hardest things for a person to admit or face up to is the fact that there is something wrong about them, or that they have to change something about their attitude. Once you are able to recognize this and overcome it, collapsing those barriers that you have unknowingly set up between yourself and everyone else, then you will be able to think bigger.

Negative thinking is, for lack of a better term, poison towards productivity. Negative thoughts will eventually become tiring and keep you from coming up with positive thoughts and brilliant ideas. Here are some things you should do to think positively.

  • Burn your baggage, if any. You cannot move forward if you are weighed down with baggage, most of which are in the past and, therefore, unnecessary and no longer as relevant currently. This requires looking at the current state of things and deciding which ones matter and which ones don’t. By doing so, you can separate those that no longer need your attention, as they are “water under the bridge” from those that are able to affect or influence you positively. Do you have an argument or misunderstanding with someone that is keeping you from thinking clearly? Find a way to resolve it, or get over it.
  • Find a positivity tool that works for you. For some, it is meditation. For others, it may be the practice of yoga. Some people find that they think more positively and feel lighter when they engage in a specific sport. Find something that will ease your mind and clear it with negative thoughts, and keep doing it until it becomes a habit.
  • Start small, if you have to. Those who have a hard time making a complete turnaround towards positivity start with baby steps. Maybe it is through smiling more, or saying one or two positive words to random strangers each day. It could even be by resolving to perform at least one act of kindness for other people in a day. It may be small, but you have to get started.
  • Read positive quotes. This is a very simple technique, but also very effective. Reading positive quotes daily can be quite uplifting. Others even make it a habit to post these quotes on their computers or desks at work, or on the fridge in the kitchen, so they can wake up to them every day.

The brain is very powerful, but it can only deal with so much at a certain point in time. In order for it to function, some displacement is required. Therefore, you have to clear some parts in order to make room for the thoughts and ideas that really matter, specifically those big and brilliant ideas that are waiting to be developed.

Additional actionable insights on thinking really big and taking action are summarized in the following slides.

Expand your horizons.

Compare a person who sticks to the four corners of his room to that of a person who goes out and experiences the world. Who has the higher probability of being the bigger thinker? Most probably, it is the latter.

  • Get out of your comfort zone. This entails being comfortable with the idea of discomfort. Learn to overcome your discomfort in matters or areas where you were awkward at first. Are you uncomfortable with the idea of speaking in front of a crowd? Then you can never expect to be able to influence other people with your words.
  • Never stop learning. You have to adopt an attitude or, to be more specific, an insatiable thirst for learning and seeking new knowledge. New knowledge and information will definitely come in handy when you are playing around with ideas, letting you think bigger. Trainings, seminars and other facilitation techniques are very useful for gaining new knowledge. If you are a businessman and you are working with a team of people, make sure they are also provided with time and resources for learning. This will make them think bigger with you.

Having wider horizons enables you to view the bigger picture, and also lets you be at the right place, at the right time. For example, digital startups know that being able to develop excellent products will get them started in the information technology industry. However, they cannot expect to become big if they stay in their dorms or garage workshops. That’s why many have taken the bold move of moving to where the IT action is, such as Silicon Valley. They are thinking big, and looking forward. Of course, they are also taking risks.

Practice proper goal-setting.

One risk of thinking big is thinking too big. We are supposed to set a goal, but in the process, we set our goal too high that they are unrealistic. This is a disaster waiting to happen, because you may be setting yourself up for more disappointment.

But wait, isn’t this refuting the “dream big” philosophy, where people go, “dreaming is free, so we might as well dream as big as we can”? Probably. Visualization is a practice performed by many people. They picture themselves being bigger than what they currently are, having more, achieving more, and doing more.

It is true that there are no limits on what we can dream about. However, dreaming is one thing; setting a goal is another. We dream big dreams, but we set goals to achieve those dreams, and the goals must be realistic.

When setting goals, make sure they are attainable. There is no problem if they are high, just as long as they can be attained. There is a difference with big goals and goals that are so lofty that it will take almost a miracle to achieve them.

You should also ask the questions that matter. The “whys” matter less than the “hows” and “whats”. For example, questioning why something is happening and going around with that question is not constructive or productive. Asking how you can change events, what you can learn from it and what you can consequently do about it, is one way to think big.

Set a solid support system in place.

We are easily influenced by our environment, particularly the people around us. You might not know it, but most of your thoughts and opinions may have been influenced by how your family, friends and colleagues think. This is why you should surround yourself with people who will support you, whether through reinforcement or constructive criticism.

Do not limit yourself to family members and close friends. At work or in business, you also have to establish a strong peer network that will positively affect the way you are thinking.

Of course, you should not expect them to be fully on your side 100% of the time. Learn to be objective when receiving feedback from your support system. People who constantly say yes and are agreeable are helpful, but even those who go, “no” and “yes, but…” are just as, if not more, helpful.

Give yourself the opportunity to really think.

This is something that many people overlook. They are of the mind that they can think anywhere, at any time. After all, some of the best ideas crop up out of nowhere.

But there are also certain advantages to making sure you position yourself in an environment that is conducive to thinking – no distractions, no disturbances, just you with your thoughts, giving it free rein to go high and wide and become really, really big.

  • Find your good “thinking” place. Some of us have places where we tend to become more introspective, or where we can think better. Maybe it’s an area isolated from everyone else, or even a crowded café in the middle of the city. It really depends on where you are most comfortable doing your thinking.
  • Set a specific time for thinking. This could be something as random as setting half an hour or an hour of everyday, where you are simply doing nothing but thinking, or scheduling an idea-time on a weekly basis for some brainstorming with people you trust.
  • Come up with a process to come up with ideas. Maybe you are most comfortable with brainstorming, so you prefer talking to your team and throwing ideas around. Maybe you are the type to keep things close to your chest at first, at least until you have fully threshed out the idea. One way to do that is through keeping a journal. In this idea journal, you will write down all the things that you thought about. Others are more interactive, such as how some authors and novelists established blogs or online diaries where they put up their ideas on a daily or regular basis.

Most importantly, keep thinking, and never settle.

The moment you stop thinking, then it is game over. The minute that you settle for less than big, then you are done. It is common sense, really. You cannot think big – or really, really big – if you stop thinking. If you decide to be satisfied with 50% when you were originally aiming for 150%, then there is no way you can think big.

Never give up on those big dreams, and never stop thinking of how you can achieve them. Do not be swayed by half measures or results that aren’t really the ones that you originally wanted. Stay the course, and do not let yourself get distracted along the way.

If you want to aim higher, achieve more, accomplish big things and bring those big dreams into reality, you have to think really, really big, and the best way to do that is to start from within. It’s an approach where you cannot rely entirely on external factors, because you must work on yourself first.

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