You’ve got a whole lot of junk in your mind. You know you’ve got junk in there; you’ve got worries that clutter it up and negative thoughts that weigh you down. So get rid of them. Easier said than done, of course. Here’s the simplest way to make sense of this idea.Think of the mental energy you have each day as a gas tank. This tank starts the day full, but every action, choice, and thought throughout the day drains it. All that clutter, negotiating, self-deprecating, and negative self-talk takes up tons of mental energy without you even realizing it. Here’s how to do some spring cleaning on your brain.
Picture this hypothetical day:
You arrived at work before you even realized you got in the car. Then you missed a couple deadlines because you were tired and where the heck did the day go? Finally, you decided not to cook dinner when you got home because whew, you were tired. We’ve all been there and we’ve all had days where we just felt drained. You can think of this using the gas tank metaphor, where every choice we make leeches a little more gas from the tank. We all know what happens when the tank is empty; we make mistakes like I mentioned above, or we become frustrated and lash out at our loved ones.
A simple way to fight this drain is to budget your mental energy just like you budget your money each month. Detach from your desires (your short-term wants). Take a good, hard look at what you need to spend that energy on. Make the conscious choice for how you’ll spend your mental energy. Identify your desires, articulate them, and start on your journey toward more authenticity. You’ll find that your reserves won’t deplete themselves nearly as quickly, and certainly not without your express permission. The act of detachment will help you clear out your mental clutter.
Take a big step back and look at your day.
Is the choice to grab an everything bagel with your morning coffee worth the drain for the rest of the day? Is the choice to take on 15 tasks (when you really only have time for 8 tasks) worth the stress and anxiety you’ll feel? Analyze these choices and remove those that clutter up your brain. When you think about it, these decisions are definitely cluttering your brain. You’re thinking about them later in the day when you should be focusing on more important things. So determine which ones are clutter and which ones need your focus, and you’ll get through the day with a full tank of mental fuel.
Doing this hardcore reflection and budgeting can make it that much easier to realize what is no longer your truth. The process I’ve presented to you in this worksheet allows you to embrace this learning the easy way—through observation and awareness—rather than stumbling into costly mistakes that steal more of your present moments. Committing to—and following through with—being authentic doesn’t mean all of your problems are going to be solved tomorrow. But it does mean that you’re not holding yourself back from what you need that’s going to serve you. Authenticity takes practice, but over time what you create will be magical.