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Monday, September 30, 2013

Ten Reasons To Think Inside The Box (and feel good about it)

For years we have proclaimed the value of "thinking outside the box."  It has been the subject of many self-help experts, endless corporate training seminars, and countless professionals from a variety of careers.  I have to admit that this seemingly innocuous catch phrase, which has become a platitude of our generation, was one that I accepted without much concern as to the consequences.  Here's what thinking out side the box has done to some of us :  It has created a sensory overload of expectations with a planet full of overworked individuals who keep looking for ways to "expand" their repertoire of ideas.

Some times thinking outside the box can be good and profitable.  I'm all for that.  Sometimes it just creates more stress. If you're looking for some reasons it's OK to go back to the box and stay there for awhile, here's a list for you to consider.  Although I don't recommend remaining here permanently, I do hope you give yourself permission to consider the following points.

Ten Reasons To Think Inside The Box

  1. It's nice and quiet inside the box. Remember when you enjoyed playing inside one of those big boxes when you were a kid?  Nobody bugged you.  You could pull your favorite toys inside.  That box became all sorts of amazing things :  a space ship, your own house, a race car, or a cave where you could hide from dinosaurs.  Anything was possible with your imagination.
  2. Boundaries allow us to remember the importance of sequencing, order, following rules, and accepting directions.  Many great projects have come to a grinding halt without these factors.
  3. Focus - We can concentrate better when we eliminate the elements of sensory distractions at work.
  4. Benefits of Containment:  What would happen if we all drove outside the dotted lines on the highway, parked over instead of between the solid lines in the parking garage, or allowed airplanes to land anywhere they wanted outside of their designated runways?  Chaos, perhaps?  Containment offers safety and consistency.
  5. Nobody has to place a limit on the size of your box.  You can expand the box to fit your project or imagination while maintaining an "outline" and order to your process.
  6. You can have more than one box.  This allows you to sort your ideas and manage more that one project within a specified period of time.  Work on one box at a time then shelve it until you can assemble each component. (I am doing this with my writing and have several projects under construction; each in varying stages of development.) 
  7. Staying inside the box prevents you from going off on tangents.  It's less likely that you will avoid what needs to be accomplished if all your resources are available to you in one setting.
  8. Storage Units - have you ever seen a storage unit?  There's a lot of room for boxes of all shapes and sizes.  Think inside a storage space if the box or boxes need to be retired for a while.  (Sometimes we can get burned out on an idea or concept and need to let it go for a time.)  You could also use the "storage unit" concept to temporarily expand your imagination while still maintaining some level of containment.  (Just avoid over-doing this or you'll end up thinking too far outside the box again and end up on the emotional equivalent of "Storage Wars" or "Hoarders.")
  9. If you travel too far outside the box, you might get lost and have a hard time returning to your project's original purpose.
  10. The "Box" is like a Home Base.  It's OK to go on vacation once in a while, but there's no place like the comfort of your home.  If necessary, travel with your box.  Just remember, there's a kind of freedom and flexibility that is associated with the minimalism of staying in the box.
Hope that helps you sort out the benefits of "Thinking Outside of the Box" or "Thinking Inside of the Box."  Whatever you choose to do with your ideas, projects, and life choices, please give yourself permission to do what is right for your individual situation.  Forget the pressures that others place on you or that you impose upon yourself. And regardless of the endless adult responsibilities that you or I encounter, it's always fun to  consider activities that inspire children's imaginations.  We can learn a lot by watching how they play and problem solve.  That was us before we allowed our thought processes to become so complicated.

Happy Monday and Have an Inspirational Week!