A clear head, good thoughts

Get out into nature and walk a few steps.

It is just this change of scene that keeps many freelancers, leaders, or project members moving forward in their daily life. 7 tips on how to channel steps and thoughts in the right direction.

“It occurred to me how much quicker I could find solutions to problems when I was able to discuss them with others while hiking.” This personal experience was what prompted me 14 years ago to take a closer look at the subject of walking. Nowadays taking a hike with concrete problems has become one of my products as a coach.”

The reason: Over and above the health benefits, it has been proven that walking stimulates the brain. Walking and developing clever ideas along the way was already a tried and tested practice for the Greek philosophers.

My 7 tips for meaningful hikes

1. A change of scenery –different environments stimulate you to come up with fresh ideas
No telephone, no computer, just you, your question at hand and, if possible, a helpful dialogue partner. Under these conditions, a leisure-time activity transforms into an optimal working environment.

The reason: The act of interrupting your work routine also with a change of place allows you to open your thoughts. This provides you with the best opportunity to literally come up with new ideas.

When choosing your route, try to hike in natural surroundings rather than in noisy places. The choice of woods or fields, the sea or a mountain trail remains yours. Ideally select a route that you do not know inside out.

2. It’s all about the exercise

“Walking means moving forwards”

Streams flow, the wind blows; there is nothing that remains still around you in the outdoors. When you move, also your thoughts begin to flow. That’s a proven fact. So take quiet steps forward and start to put them in order.

“Already this forward movement has a positive influence on your condition, report psychologists. “

Studies have shown that people who hesitate or are unsure in decision-making processes actually also withdraw physically.

3. Concentrate on one problem
Those searching for concrete solutions require a goal. This means that a suitable question is required in order to reach this goal. This question will determine the way you look at things but also the way you approach it. After all it is a question of deviating from well-trod paths, meaning you need to avoid everything that will lead you into an impasse. Because

· “We’ve always done it that way”

· “That’s never happened before”

· “That is never going to work”

… will not take you any further.

Try to start with concrete open questions. A few examples from my business coaching hikes are:

· What are your strength?

· What are your USPs?

· Which new products do you have in mind?

· Which topics are energy suckers and are there topics which give you energy?

· What would you like to let go?

4. The path towards the goal. Less is more.

Inevitably your thoughts will drift away time after time while you are hiking. That’s normal. Nevertheless keep returning to your initial question, in case of doubt, a small memo may help. The more consequently you adhere between the brainstormg to it, the easier it is for you to answer the initial question and arrive at deeper insights.

5. Write it down!
Take the time after your hike or during it to note down your thoughts in point form. This helps you retain what is important.
Moreover you’re also helping your subconscious to get into gear. It is very possible you are suddenly able to tap into the solution that had evaded you during the hike the next day under the shower.

6. Are you looking for support?

Going on a hike alone helps you to clear your thoughts. If you have any kind of blockage or your thoughts are simply exploding out of you, a hike with a dialogue partner is your best choice. When selecting a dialogue partner, take note of the following:

· Neutrality: The fewer vested interests your dialogue partner has, the more free you are to speak about also difficult subjects; ones that are connected with major changes (esp. giving up your business, questions of existence, changes in direction). That is why neither your business partner nor (marital)-partner, depending on the issue, is suitable if they themselves are deeply affected.

· Share of the conversation: If the idea is to further develop your own thoughts, your dialogue partner should hold back. Your share of the conversation should be 75 percent and your partner’s should be 25 percent.

· Leading the discussion: Your sparring partner will be of most benefit to you if they ask questions and summarize your thoughts from time to time. Evaluations just hold things up. Any concerns about your ideas should be posed as questions. Instead of making the comment: “So you are insolvent”, it would be better to ask: “What sort of options do you have to compensate this loss?”or instead of “You are so stressed out. You need to relax.” better: “How could you relax a few minutes every day? Lets think about that.”

7. How long should the hike take?

The more complex the issue, the longer the hike should be. One and a half hours is a good ballpark figure. Hikes with a concrete question in mind, however, are only necessary as the exception.

Taking stock during a “meaningful hike” once a month or once a quarter has proven its worth for many self-employed people, leaders or project members. Those who take the time for one hour a week to look at their business from a different perspective remain on the ball.

There are enough occasions for meaningful hikes. What has proven to be effective is the second job interview, important changes in direction and regular, short time-outs in order to clear your mind or planning your next goals — literally , step by step.

It is always possible to have a coaching in nature, with a consultant like me. In a group for one day, a few hours with your team, or as one-on-one mini-workshop.

Intercultural Communication and Cooperation (MA), Professional Coach, post-graduate Change-Manager, Organisational Structuralist, Sports Trainer, Self-employed.