How To Re-Wire Your Brain in the StartOver Economy

A funny thing happened to me when I decided to start over.

I had no more to-do lists. No clients to answer to. No follow ups. No explaining. No re-doing.

My head was clear. I thought I was losing my mind. But no… that’s not what was happening. I had a new sense of clarity. I was lucid and clear for the first time in many years.

How to Re-Wire Your Brain in the StartOver EconomyWhen I took time off to re-start my business, I did it first by helping others.  I  helped a friend of mine at a really cool guitar store – Redbone Guitar Boutique in San Antonio. I  started shooting videos like this one, doing fun reviews of cool guitars and accessories.  Oh — did I tell you I’m not a videographer?  And did you know that I am hardly a “guitar expert?”   I would check in on Foursquare, helped create content for their Facebook page.

I also started buying guitars.  I hired a wonderful guitar teacher, Steve Owens.

With my head clear, and taking guitar lessons, something else started to happen:  I started to write better.  I was a better communicator — and more importantly, I became a better listener.

New business started to come in, and I became more selective with the clients I would take on. If a client-to-be did not feel right, or I did not think they would be a great client, I politely turned them down. There were times when I made a bad judgement call.  If the client would not take my advice, or thought they had the right to be an asshole because they were paying me,  I fired them with humility and grace.

I discovered that I had the currency of knowledge and deep expertise.

That’s a commodity you can’t buy.

Prove It!

I am no scientist, and while I can’t document what happened to me with scientific proof, I do believe that unbeknownst to me, I was re-wiring my brain.   I believe I had dead connective tissue, or tissue in my brain that started to wake up because I was doing something creative that I had never done before, and I was starting to connect new neurons.

I had a dear friend (and client) who had a very successful exit. He too was in the process of starting over. He had more money than he could ever spend in his life time. He, like me, took some time off, and jumped seriously into photography. I met others who were also starting over. They were all taking time off, doing something creative, re-wiring their brains and then going back to “work.”

How To ReWire Your Brain in the StartOver Economy

1.   Find something creative to do that you have never done before.

The more off-the-wall, the better. I chose guitar, simply because of my love of music.  I happen to have played drums for over 40 years, but never quite got to the guitar thing, until I started over. Do something that will shock your friends, family and business associates. Think painting, pottery, music, dance, race car driving, poetry… do something that is so out of character, even your brain will freak out.

2.  Introduce new creative inputs.

When you learn to play guitar, you have to learn chords, melodies, strumming and picking. Think of it as someone going through physical rehabilitation and learning to walk again.   

3.   Volunteer anywhere that needs creativity.

When I asked Richard Turner. who owns Redbone, if I could help, he never asked me if I was “qualified.”  I just showed up and started doing product reviews. These reviews lead to views approaching 100,000 and new business leads from all over the world. I never asked for money. I would have paid Richard to do it and to have the experience this volunteer work provided.

4.   Borrow a friend’s camera.

Yes, you may already have a good camera. And certainly, the camera in most current generation smart phones, coupled with apps like Instagram, are really good. The reason to borrow a friend’s camera is they have a different lens. A different lens gives you a different view on the world. You will shoot differently. You will experience the world in a different way. Your input and in turn, your output will start to change. Yes,  you are re-wiring your brain.

5.   Break a few habits and mix things up a bit.

Do you  always go to the same movie theater, restaurant, or grocery store?   Drive, or take public transportation, somewhere out of your neighborhood. Get out of your comfort zone. Break every possible routine you can. Go see a movie in the middle of the day. Get out of sync with the world you know. Mix it up. Mix it up. Mix it up.

6.   Shake up muscle memory.

Once you start doing something — be it exercise, writing, singing, dancing, etc. — you might get really good at it, but to keep your brain fresh, you need to mix up the muscle memory.  Whatever it is you are doing, do it differently, maybe just once a week. Mix it up. Mix it up. Mix it up.

7. Unsubscribe from everything, unless you truly need it.

This is a great way to clear your head and re-wire your brain. Kill every subscribed blog, ezine, or newsletter that you have been reading for years unless you absolutely need to read them. Try new ones. In new areas that have nothing to do with work.

8.  Learn to say “no.” 

Learning to say no is a powerful thing. It’s not for the purpose of having “power.”  It’s to give you the right to control what you want to do, with who, and when. I am not here to advocate not helping someone in need. While your mileage and situation will vary, you can be gracious and humble in the process of saying no. Maybe the timing is not right. Maybe you just don’t believe in a cause that someone has asked you to support. Or perhaps in your journey of starting over, you just are not ready to being investing time and energy in someone else’s time and energy. Remember, it’s your time. It’s your energy. Conserve and use it wisely.

9.  Don’t ask God for Anything. Thank God for Everything.

When I refer to “God,” I mean it in the metaphorical sense, as in a higher power, and respecting whatever you do or don’t believe in. I quit wishing for things  to happen and became more thankful for everything I had in my life.

If a pitch to a prospective client did not work out, I let it go and said that it was their loss; not mine.  I was thankful that I did not have to engage with a client to-be who was clueless.

When I turned in the BMW I was leasing, and instead started to drive a 29-year-old BMW that I had restored, I thanked God for the wisdom to do this and never have to fork over $700 per month again. Don’t get me wrong. I love nice cars. And I may go back to doing this one day. But for now, I was grateful and thrilled to have no payments and a way cool car.

Look around you and take stock of what you have. Not how much money. Not how many homes you may own. Take stock of where you live, the people who love you and your friends.

Be grateful. Remain humble. And be gracious in your actions.

10.  Practice.

In January, I started practicing Yoga.  There is a wonderful teacher that I met at Gold’s Gym in San Antonio.  I feel better and am rediscovering parts of my body that are waking up again. It’s also affecting the re-wiring of my brain. Compared to the others in the class, I am a total klutz.  At times during the 50 minute session, I just can’t keep up with the rest of the class. My teacher does not care, and nor do my fellow classmates. They all keep encouraging me to come back, and get better at my practice. I am practicing not to get to being perfect. I am practicing for the sake of practice, for I now realize that every Yoga session is a different experience and a different practice.

In your journey of starting over, come up with your own form and structure in how to re-wire your brain.

Remember to mix things up as you see fit, and more than anything, be grateful for the abundance that surrounds you.

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  • everyman22

    really good – i already know all this but it was great to hear it from you

  • catherinetatum

    Love this advice…..especially “Don’t ask God for anything….Thank God for Everything.” Thanks for sharing about this Start Over Economy

  • http://jacksonandwilson.com/ Mitch Jackson

    Alan- So true and really enjoyed the article. Basically I hear you saying that our actions and thoughts control how we feel and approach things. Adding interest, hobbies or just cleaning the slate and staring over all may allow us to rewire our brain and do good things. I’m finding that a monthly reading of Owner Mag helps the process :-) Thanks!

  • http://LeanStartPad.com/ Jeff ‘SKI’ Kinsey

    Interesting insights Alan. Some great uncommon commonsense ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.donnatalarico.com/ Donna Talarico

    Great post. Found it via Twitter from @gapingvoid. I’ve been thinking about taking art classes — which medium I’m not yet sure — and your post shows I was on the the right track. I’m also trying to say “no” less frequently. In fact, I just wrote a post called “Forget Drugs! How ‘Just Say No’ to Overdosing on Yes” at a new blog — for a new project dedicated to better work-life balance — called All the Stuff Done. I share some other how-to-say-no tips. Thanks for writing and sharing this. As I make my All the Stuff Done quest, your thoughts will come in handy. P.S. I won’t put the link to my aforementioned post in this comment because I don’t want it to appear that’s why I posted here. :) But if anyone is interested, please look for it.

  • Richard Turner

    Alan, you are a really nice guy with a “Heart of Gold”! Here are “The Richard Turner Ten Retorts” for “How to Rewire yada yada”: 1) (one) What was that about hats again? 2) (two) Don’t pick your nose! 3) (three) Are you? 4) (four) I want my camera back. 5) (five) Stop doing that! 6) (six) Sit ups! 7) (seven) resubscribe to Redbone, Mr. Mayor! 8) (eight) No!, I will not say “No”! 9) (nine) Number nine, number nine, number nine… And finally, Number 10) (ten) It makes PERFECT, Like you, Alan!
    Thanks for the mention! Peace and Chips’ Douglas!
    Rich T

  • http://JaredLatigo.com/ Jared Latigo

    This gets me thinking for sure. Very interesting experience. Thanks for sharing!