Think outside your box

An article by Jason S. Sullivan, 02/26/19 (updated 03/27/19)

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

“Think outside the box.”

Yeah, yeah. I know. We’ve all heard this one before. It’s one of those sayings that started out as great advice. Now, it’s used by everyone for everything. It’s a cliché. It’s gotten to the point that it’s overused and meaningless.

It goes something like this –

  • Person 1 – “Hey, we have a generic problem. How do we solve this?”
  • Person 2 – “Think outside the box.”
  • Person 1 – “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?”

That conversation and it’s sad, little derivatives junk-up the landscape.

I had a lightbulb moment this morning. And, let me tell ya, the train of thought started roaring down the tracks.

Forget about “think outside the box.” I’m deleting that from my brain’s hard drive and my vocabulary. It’s done. It’s time for something new – something a little more 2019.

Think outside your box.

“Now wait a minute,” you say. “What’s that all about?”

Before we go there, let’s be honest – I’m not the first person to come up with this. I’m sure someone else thought of it when they got tired of hearing “think outside the box.”

So what does “think outside your box” mean to me?

I see the “box” as my comfort zone. Think of it as an ordinary cardboard box. The “box” holds all my fears, doubts, preconceived notions, stereotypes, and the limitations I’ve set for myself. It’s all there. All these things in the box make up my comfort zone. I’ve been filling this box my whole life. And, others have helped me fill this box, too.

Open the box

I opened my box and started to sift through the contents.

Oh, no – what a mess! My box was full. There were things in there that I hadn’t used or thought about in years. Mind-junk. Mind-clutter. Bad habits. Bad advice. The lies I told myself. The lies other people told me. The old ways of thinking. The failures I kept as trophies. The misguided mantras. The broken dreams. The baggage. The limitations I set for myself. The compromises that should have gone the other way. How did all these things get in there? And why hadn’t I got rid of them yet?

The contents of the box were pieces to a puzzle. Pieces to my puzzle. Some of the pieces no longer fit together as they once did. Ah ha! It’s starting to make sense.

New perspective

“Think outside your box” can change your perspective and your mindset.

Now might be the perfect time to open your box and see what’s in there.

Comfort zones?

Most of us live in our comfort zone because, well, we think it’s comfortable. We’re comfortable with our perception of the coveted “comfort zone.” In reality, most comfort zones aren’t that comfortable. We believe they are – we tell ourselves that they are – but they’re not. Comfort zones are often stifling and restrictive.

Don’t get me wrong. You probably shouldn’t take a flying leap out of your comfort zone. That might work for some people. But, most people, myself included, will probably need to take smaller steps out of their comfort zone – at least at first.

Think outside your box.

So, what if you started thinking outside of your comfort zone? Started to “think outside your box”? What could you accomplish? What could you think, dream, or feel? What if you emptied your box – how would you fill it? Or would you even have a box at all? What if you took that box and dumped it in the recycling bin?

No box = no comfort zone =

no limitations.

Open your mind. The possibilities are up to you.

“Think outside your box” could be a different way of approaching your day, your world, and even your life. It’s a different way of thinking. And sometimes, that’s all you need to make a fresh start.

About the author – Jason S. Sullivan is an aspiring writer. Connect with Jason on LinkedIn and check out his other articles!

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