Regenerative Solitude

When was the last time that you trekked out to the wilderness to receive a revelation? As author Susan Cain points out in her popular book, Quiet, history is riddled with stories of deep, impactful ideas being generated in profound, thoughtful solitude.

Alone time is often embedded in daily life for entrepreneurs, especially writers. In fact, solitary work can be downright suffocating. Being alone at the laptop does not stimulate creativity or energy; I can often track my own energy draining as quickly as the battery.

If you work in an office full of chatty extroverts, your challenge at finding quality time alone can be even more daunting.

So, when did you last purposefully engage in thoughtful reflection, all alone?

There are always a few tricky barriers to solitude. Personally, I have two rascal children who are at the prime ages for chaos-making. I also work from a laptop and count myself as one of the many who find the new host of applications that literally block social media revolutionary (because I sadly lack the discipline to refocus post-tweet).

On top of children and constant connections to strangers, there are chores, routines, meals, workouts, spouses, television shows, radio, and bad drivers. Much like eating greens or getting in a daily run, peaceful solitude often falls low on the priority list until we are in crisis because our lives are so out of balance.

Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, booking time with yourself can free creativity and trigger new revelations waiting to be connected in your mind.

Strategic Direction

When your brain is “on the go” all of the time, there is little room for reflecting on your experiences, evaluating actions, and planning for the future. Much of this can happen naturally and more effectively without pen and paper.

A More Fulfilling Life

Group think is universally unavoidable. As stubborn as we can be, research has documented those in a group subconsciously mirror those around them. Living a life off the beaten path (emphasis on beaten) requires self-awareness.

Solutions to Difficult Challenges

Effective problem solving requires a space where all of the information is viewed from a higher perspective – there is a distinct pause on information gathering. You will come up with better solutions to your high impact challenges by incorporating the ideas and experiences of others into a unique solution, on your own.

Strong Relationships

I cannot count the number of times that I have fought with a loved one simply because I was stressed and disconnected from my priorities. Quality time alone translates to quality time together. Your relationships will benefit when you are centered on what you want from life. Some of our greatest challenges lie in our relationships. Solitude can lock in the resolve needed to take action in toxic relationships and nurture the roots that keep us standing.

If thoughtful reflection is difficult for your ADD mind, take a walk. Combine physical activity with time alone and just wait for your mind to focus. If your location permits, take a walk where you are truly all alone. The goal is to relax your mind and revitalize your direction, not silently criticize your neighbor’s inappropriate outfit.

Practice redirecting your thoughts to energizing and creative visualization. Channel that energy into your work and life. Before long you will develop better thought habits during any down time, taking advantage of the 15-minute wait at the dentist or the Saturday grocery shopping trip to create the life you desire.

  1. Thank you for sharing. Your utilization of your commute for reflection and shifting gears in between work and home is a great example of making the most of our everyday patterns. Drastic change is usually not sustainable, but other readers who simply adjust their own commutes to meet these objectives could gain valuable alone time.

  2. Emily,

    For me I happily live far from my commute and enjoy my drive time for deep thoughtful reflection. I typically drive in silence 30 minutes one way to work and another 30 back to get the kids before the chaos starts.

    This part of my day is indeed invaluable though. While some would speculate on the cost of gas or the time for my commute, I find it a necessary and relaxing part of my day.

    You post is an excellent reiteration of what I already knew and practice but brings a new dimension to the way I think about that time.

    I plan on trying to do more in the way of exercise in solitude and will keep you posted of any thoughts on the subject.

    Thanks as always!

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