How to Build the Thinking Habit

Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.
~ George Bernard Shaw

Do you want to take your life to the next level? If you do, then one of the most important things you can do is building the thinking habit.

Why is it important?

Because the habit helps you live intentionally. Instead of just making default decisions, you will make thoughtful decisions. Instead of living on autopilot, you will live by design.

How can we build the thinking habit? Here are some tips.

1. Be Curious

Curiosity is powerful. It makes you eager to find new ideas. It also helps you recognize the ideas when they come. Curiosity is a foundational attitude to have in building the thinking habit.

2. Read Diversely

The quality of your output depends on the quality of your input. So, if you want to come up with good ideas, you need to feed your mind with good ideas.

One way to do that is to read diversely. Why? Because it allows you to cross-pollinate the ideas in your mind. This will give you fresh, new ideas.

Don’t just read from the fields you are familiar with; read from other fields as well.

3. Read Actively

Not only should you read diversely, but also you should read actively. Find relevant ideas and think about how you can apply them.

My favorite way to do this is by highlighting the book I read and reviewing them after I finish the book. I will then put the actionable ideas in my idea journal (see below). This helps me get the most out of the book.

4. Keep an Idea Journal

When you find a good idea, don’t just keep it in your mind. Instead, write it in an idea journal. Capture the idea. Otherwise, the idea might be gone forever.

Keeping an idea journal also makes you more alert to new ideas. You will quickly recognize them because you already have the habit of capturing ideas.

5. Review Your Ideas

Of course, it doesn’t do you much good if you just capture ideas without reviewing them. So take time to review your ideas every now and then.

In my case, I mark the ideas that I consider important and review them regularly. Besides refreshing my mind of the ideas, this often opens the way to new ideas.

6. Allocate Time to Think

You could take special time just to think. Bill Gates did this by having a Think Week twice a year while he was at Microsoft. This helped him navigate the company through the fast-changing technological landscape.

While you might not be able to afford a full week of thinking, you can do something similar with a shorter amount of time.

7. Experiment

Ideas aren’t good if they are just ideas. You need to put them into action.

For this, you need to have the experiment mindset. Try things out without fearing failure. If an experiment works, you can then put more resources into it.


As the quote at the beginning says, not many people have the thinking habit. That’s why having the habit will make you stand out.


  1. +1 for reading, it really helps you to develop great ideas and gets me going at least. Good post!

  2. Thank you for this excellent post ,it has simple ,practical useful tips for us to think and benefit from this golden God given gift of thinking ,meditating and or imagining . Its important to think and nurture thought that are of value to your life ,your family and friends and the entire World .

    Read Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”.

  3. Thanks Donald. This topic is one that I have been pondering over for a long time now.

  4. Great article! ! Very informative and short, to the point.

  5. Curiosity and idea journals are key!!

  6. All great achievements began with thinking then were put into action,I echo your sentiments.

    Great article Donald.

  7. Thanks for this motivational post

  8. Great and insightful article. For
    me,it is eye -opening. Infact I saved it as offline page

  9. reading diversely has to be the most effective way to build new thinking patterns. Ive found that it opens up my world when I feel lost

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