This story was first published on Medium on May 26, 2018
Friedrich Nietzsche reportedly observed that “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”.
While that claim might be somewhat exaggerated, it’s certainly true that taking a walk can be a powerful way of formulating new ideas and strategies for your business.
I run a home business and can work whatever hours that suit me. Even so, taking a couple of hours away from the office just to walk can seem indulgent and counterproductive. Especially with an ever-expanding to-do list waiting there on my office computer like an accusation.
But, I can say that I’ve had many a good idea, greatly expanded and enhanced existing ideas, and nutted out new ways to increase my productivity just by walking. I take these walks a couple of times a week. I call them “strategy walks”.
Walking, one step after another, while focusing on a particular topic can help you gain deep insights that you can build upon and use to improve your business.
Not only have I come up with new and powerful ideas on such walks, I’ve even been able to plan in detail how to implement them.
Before I embark on a strategy walk, I define the topic or topics I want to focus on in my digital journal. During the walk, I jot down ideas and thoughts from time to time in the phone version of my journal. My journal entries are synced across all of my devices, so I can access them just about any time and any place.
If I’ve come up with an idea worth pursuing, I open the journal entry on my computer when I get back to the office and expand on the idea. Pretty soon, I’ve created a detailed preliminary plan.
I might begin to implement the plan straight away. Or, I might put it aside to try out at a more appropriate time. Either way, I have an actionable plan that I can begin rolling out whenever I’m ready.
Of course, not every idea I get on a strategy walk turns out to be a great one. Or even a good one. Some get discarded pretty quickly. Others don’t pan out quite as I expected and get shelved. But quite a few of my walk-derived ideas have worked really well for me and have become a part of my overall business strategy.
I also use my strategy walks for planning articles that I want to write. Again, I create a journal entry and define the article idea before I start walking. Often, I pretty much write the article in my head as I walk. I’ll pause from time to time during the walk and pull out my phone to record the main points I’ve come up with.
By the time I return to the office, I have the article mapped out in my head and a rough outline recorded in my journal entry. I can then simply expand on the entry until I’ve written the article.
Perhaps you might be thinking why not just skip the walk and dedicate time for deep-thought mode in the comfort of your office or home? At least for me, that just doesn’t work. There are too many distractions. I’ll suddenly get a compelling need to check all my social media and business metrics and quickly disappear down that potentially endless rabbit hole. Or someone will visit. Or I’ll decide that I really should be working on that overdue project rather than just sitting around thinking about stuff.
So, I find that it’s much easier to stay focused on my chosen topic when I’m out walking. The steady step-by-step rhythm helps me concentrate. I quickly get into a meditative state in which I’m much more receptive to new ideas and new approaches to old ones.
All the great ideas are already out there floating around in the universe just waiting for someone like you to grab hold of them and make them your own. Walking can make it a lot more likely that you’ll connect with these ideas and take them on board.
So, try slipping a couple of strategy walks a week into your schedule to see how it works for you. Even if you can only manage half an hour. Taking the time to think deeply about topics of concern to you can really pay off. Especially if you do your thinking in an environment where you can truly concentrate and be receptive to new ideas.
Plus, even if you don’t come up with any great new ideas on a walk, you’ll probably arrive back feeling energised and motivated. So, you’ll likely get more done anyway. And, of course, walking is great exercise that might even help you live longer. You can strategy walk guilt free.
Go for it! If you try this I hope it works as well for you as it has for me over the years.
Got a great new business idea? You’ll need a great website to match!