Keeping the Big Picture in Mind
Seeing things from the 30,000ft view or keeping the big picture in mind can be immensely helpful especially during challenging and uncertain times. When we get caught up in reacting to everything in our life it can be a lot like experiencing turbulence on a plane. We feel like we are out of control, have lost control of our situation and or control is at the hands of someone else; we can’t see very far ahead to the future and visibility is low due to clouds or clouded thinking; we feel like we are getting pushed around and are constantly having to react or ‘put out fires’. It’s uncomfortable, draining, stressful, and downright exhausting.
Just like on a flight, when the plane is experiencing turbulence, pilots know that rather than ‘putting up with it’ they take control, pull up on the yolk and get up to a higher altitude where it is smoother, and visibility is clearer. If we can challenge ourselves to choose to see the bigger picture, especially in times of our own turbulence, it can improve our ability to navigate our short-term challenges, be more effective problem-solvers, keep us focused, and maintain perspective.
The following are strategies to help you do that.
Begin with the end in mind. There is a reason for why the front window of a car is much bigger than the rear-view mirror. It is much more important to see where you are going than to focus on where you have been. One of the most powerful ways to create certainty especially in uncertain times is to engage your visual brain and focus on what you want to create. Go out to future time, act ‘as if’ it has already occurred, and see yourself in that future. Explore the possibilities. How will you know you have arrived at this future time? What’s the evidence criteria? What do you want to be seeing, hearing, feeling, knowing, experiencing? Who are you being in that future? Identify why this outcome or future is important to you? Flexing that imagination muscle is your key to creating more of what you want to have happen. What you focus on grows. (see the “Big Picture Thinking Way to Achieve Epic Results” worksheet).
Use anchoring words. Acting ‘as if’ it is your future date, what three words would you want to use to describe your journey to your outcome or goal? These three words then act as guideposts and are a great way to anchor in your big picture into your day to day living. They become almost like a compass to measure daily actions or behaviours against. Is what I am doing or about to do in alignment with those three words?
Exercise creative thinking. Too often the way we think reinforces, defines, and confines us to seeing things only one way. Challenge your assumptions and yourself to expand your frame of reference and shift perspective by exploring other ways to approach your desired outcomes or future. The more choices you create for overcoming a challenge or creating more pathways of possibilities means you have flexibility. This flexibility means you have more freedom of movement to overcome or move around any challenge on way towards your outcome or future. This is a powerful mindset.
Challenge your way of thinking to come up with at least 5 new ways to approach a goal or outcome or challenge. The more creative and imaginative the better. When you train your brain to think in a more expansive way means that you can overcome challenges or adapt a lot faster to change. This type of strategy is so important to employ especially in times of uncertainty.
“How else can we approach this that we haven’t tried before?”
“What are additional ways to overcome this that I haven’t yet considered?”
“In what new and exciting ways can I move forward toward my goal/outcome?”
“What are our new and best ways to approach this?”
“If that route/path/solution is no longer available, what new solution appears?”
Standing on the shoulders of giants. During our short-term challenges, we forget just how resourceful and resilient we really are. Sometimes it can be helpful to think of people who inspire you. This could be family, ancestors, mentors, sport heros or others who you look up to. Ask yourself: What would they do in your situation? How might they handle things? What advice would they give you? In addition, it can be extremely helpful to spend some time to call on your own capabilities and recall your references of times in your life when against the odds you persevered. You are giant too after all!