Maybe you’ve got a few restart ideas kicking around, or even one big amazing one. But what happens next? Usually it involves hitting a wall and saying ‘Oh what’s the point, I’ll never make this happen!” But not this time.

Cindy Galvin was in her 50s when she left a successful career in the global energy industry to launch her coaching practice, helping people find their purpose. Here she explains how planting and nurturing an idea makes your brain start presenting you with a ton of useful thoughts and ideas that will help you formulate a solid plan.

Our brains don’t sleep

Your brain is working for you 24/7, whether you realise it or not. Everything you tell yourself, your brain absorbs. The moment you have the thought of making a change in your life, the idea is registered in your subconscious mind. Then it’s up to you to make that thought take flight.

By allowing yourself the freedom to entertain ideas that come to mind and writing them down, you’re training your brain to become familiar with a new way of thinking. Every idea you have has the potential of becoming a new neural pathway.

If you continue to reflect on the thought and put action behind it – brainstorm ideas, cut pictures or articles out of magazines or newspapers that are relevant, speak about it with friends – you reinforce the idea and help build a more powerful, strong pathway. The electricity flowing in your brain will more easily follow a nicely formed neural pathway, meaning the thinking becomes easier for the brain to do.

This is similar to writing down three positive things a day. Concentrating the brain’s focus on positive things makes it increasingly easier for the brain to think in a positive way.

Planting the seeds of ideas

Think of the ideas you have for your new career as planting seeds in the ground, only in this case it’s in your mind. Left unattended, the seeds will die, but given careful nurturing, they will germinate, take root and grow.

Your ideas will sprout roots with the attention you give them. The more you do this and the stronger the neural connection being built, the easier it will be for your brain to help you think of more ideas because it doesn’t have to work as hard. Your actions have made the unfamiliar familiar. The more you put into thinking, the more you get out of it. Simply put, you get what you focus on.

How to manifest ideas

When we decide to do something, we think about it a lot, which reinforces the idea in our mind. But what’s interesting is that you can have a thought, not think about it and know that it’s still there percolating away in your subconscious. It hasn’t gone anywhere; it’s waiting for your conscious mind to focus on it again.

Be mindful of what occupies your mind

Remember your brain is always listening. While it works to push you towards seeing things that are aligned with what you want, it can also give you things you don’t want. My mother used to laugh about being clumsy. I remember her saying this while walking along the pavement and, sure enough, it wouldn’t be long before she stumbled. If you tell yourself you’re not good at something, chances are you won’t be. So switch off those negative thoughts by questioning and challenging them whenever they crop up.

Momentum builds momentum

Change requires commitment. Every idea is worthwhile, whether you use it or not because by thinking it you’re exercising your brain. I don’t mean exercising for the sake of thinking new thoughts but moving out of your comfort zone and creating that new neural pathway.

This is relatively hard work because the electricity in your brain follows neural pathways that are strong and well made. But it’s good to shake things up and try different things. If deciding that you want to do something new and figuring out exactly what that is were easy, then everyone would be doing it. People you see or read about who’ve left lucrative careers to go on to create further success didn’t do this overnight. Some perseverance is required.

“You’ll find your brain beginning to give you ideas. Write these down.”

If you want to pursue something different, once you have a clear idea of what it is, keep the idea in your mind. Give yourself time to ask the ‘what if’ questions. These are questions that open your mind to different possibilities. “What if I didn’t have to worry about taking care of my garden and house? What if I had more free time by working three days a week? What if I could make nearly the same amount of money by being my own boss?”

When you’ve been thinking about what you want to do for a while, you’ll find your brain beginning to give you ideas. Write these down. This is how a plan forms. Be kind to yourself as you think about the change you want to make. Self-compassion has the same effect on the brain as someone showing you compassion, increasing oxytocin levels, giving you a happy feeling that will help you stay on track.

Trust the process

It will take time for your new neural pathways to be created as you keep thinking of doing something you don’t normally do. You need to keep working until the unfamiliarity fades. It will if you stay committed and look at difficulties as opportunities and not stumbling blocks.

And remember, you’re thinking of making a change at a time when more and more women are doing it and it’s becoming the norm. If you view yourself as part of this growing trend for making a big change later in life, your oxytocin levels will rise because you will feel part of this group. More positive feelings to help you on your way.

Abridged and edited extract from More To Give by Cindy Galvin. Cindy is an executive coach who uses a variety of techniques and skills to help people find new sense of purpose, including Neurolinguistic Programming and Rapid Transformational Therapy.

Looking for expert advice? The Audrey Members’ Club is a whole world of support, coaching and expertise for women through self-employment, changing careers, running a business or launching one. Join us to kickstart your future, whatever that may be.