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Jon Acuff

New York Times Best-Selling Author

The Global Leadership Summit

GLN Staff Writer | Globalleadership.org/Summit

50 Turn-Down Techniques You Can Use Today When Your Broken Soundtracks Get Loud

Published September 29, 2022

Most leaders are aware of the importance of mindset—that our thoughts turn into our actions, which turn into our results. At the same time, self-defeating, repetitive thoughts—which New York Times best-selling author Jon Acuff calls “Soundtracks”—can undermine our efforts to develop and maintain a positive and effective mindset. In his talk at The Global Leadership Summit in 2022, Jon helped leaders and teams learn how to start developing a winning mindset by retiring the broken soundtracks that have been holding them back and replacing them with new ones that propel them forward.

In this excerpt from Jon Acuff’s latest book, Soundtracks, discover what you can do when your broken soundtracks get too loud.

We’re overthinkers. We don’t believe in lists that are five items long. We roll fifty strong or we don’t roll at all! I agree.

50 Turn-Down Techniques You Can Use Today When Your Broken Soundtracks Get Loud

Write it out. Don’t let the broken soundtracks just spin in your head. Shrink them down to size by putting them on a piece of paper.

  1. Go for a short drive down one of your favorite roads with the windows down and the music up. (I just wrote a Bruce Springsteen song.)
  2. Drink a cup of coffee. Caffeine is the nectar of the gods.
  3. Clean a drawer – or a whole closet if you’ve got the time.
  4. Google “Steven Seagal” and “Russia” and see what he’s been up to lately. You will not be disappointed.
  5. Put something back where it belongs. The shoes in my house always seem to be on adventures far from their home in the garage.
  1. Take your dog for a walk or even to the dog park. I’ve been told it’s creepy to go to the dog park to pet all the dogs if you don’t own one. Noted.
  2. Watch fifteen minutes of a British baking show where the judges encourage contestants instead of shaming them on a deeply personal level for their icing choices.
  3. Knit a few rows on your turn-down scarf.
  4. Take a nap. Remember those things you raged against in childhood? Now we love them.
  5. Write a thank you note to someone using actual paper and actual stamps and your actual hand.
  6. Text something encouraging to a friend if that last one felt altogether too exhausting.
  7. Add a few pieces to a puzzle.
  8. Read a bit of fiction. Don’t force yourself through the classics if you despise them. Grab a beach book, where every single chapter has a climax and the main character’s name is something dramatic like Jackson Steelsmith or Savannah Orion.
  9. Use a meditation app like Headspace or Calm for ten minutes.
  10. Teach your toddler how to put on shoes. Just kidding. Why would you do that to yourself? Buy a pair of Crocs for them and then call it a day. Nobody has time for laces.
  11. Go to the gym. If you’re not motivated, sign up for a class that costs you money so you’ve got some skin in the game.
  12. If you don’t have access to the gym, do ten jumping jacks, ten push-ups, or ten sit-ups.
  13. If those are your three least favorite things to do, go for a short walk.
  14. Swing on a playground for ten minutes. Somewhere along the way to adulthood most of us lost touch with that simple joy.
  15. Pretend to be your favorite professor and hold class outside for yourself today. Find a bench at work or a chair in your backyard and get some fresh air.
  16. Watch ten minutes of your favorite comedian.
  17. Take a bath or shower. Try real shampoo, not just a spritz of dry shampoo, a deception I caught my wife using after fifteen years of marriage. Just when you think you know someone.
  18. Take a few deep breaths. The nice thing about this one is you were probably already planning to breathe today, so you might as well make a few of them deep.
  19. Listen to your favorite music, even if it’s the wrong season. You want to bust out the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack in July? Go for it.
  20. Call your mom.
  21. Or, equally helpful, depending on your relationship with your mom, give yourself a week off from talking to your mom.
  22. Dress up. I know the American dream is to work from home in your pajamas, but tired sweatpants are the uniform of broken soundtracks. Flannel feels like failure after a few hours. A robe is clothes melatonin. That’s one of the things we all learned working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Put on a belt and you’ll already feel like you have a little bit of momentum.
  23. Catch up on the latest episode of a podcast you love.
  24. Look through your camera roll at the photos of your last vacation. David Thomas said that once you’ve got a few physical turn-down techniques it’s great to add some digital ones too.
  25. Plan your next vacation. Pick a place, pick a time of year, and pick one activity you’ll do when you go there.
  26. Watch one of your favorite movies from the 1980s or 1990s. Start with Aspen Extreme, which the Seattle Times rightfully called “Top Gun on the Ski Slopes.”
  27. Light a candle or diffuse essential oils if you’re at home and won’t have to talk to HR about all the fires.
  28. Start a new hobby. Learn to play guitar (start with “Wonderwall” by Oasis, obviously.) Try watercolor painting. Sign up for a pottery class.
  29. Balance your personal budget. This one would give me a panic attack, but for a lot of people, dealing with numbers is a great way to quiet down all the emotions broken soundtracks add to situations.
  30. Build a “bliss box” with a few of your favorite items that always put you in a good mood.
  31. Get a bird feeder. In a matter of days, you’ll be amazed at the flying art that’s visiting your backyard.
  32. Yell at squirrels. You get to do this one for free if you get a bird feeder.
  33. Spend a few minutes with an adult coloring book. That sounds like maybe Cinemax has a coloring book series, but they’re actually an incredibly popular craft that a lot of adults enjoy doing.
  34. Play any game except Monopoly with your kid. You don’t have nine hours to turn down this soundtrack.
  35. Eat a small snack. Snickers is right, you’re not you when you’re hungry.
  36. Get a haircut, get your nails done, or get a massage. This is 100 percent the “treat yo’ self” collection of actions.
  37. Spend a few minutes scrolling through a few of your favorite Instagram accounts.
  38. Play your favorite game. If you’re at home, knock out a few minutes of Fortnite or Smash Bros. If you’re on your lunch break at work, open up an app and grow some virtual corn.
  39. Watch clips of underdogs auditioning for singing shows and wowing the judges.
  40. Speaking of clips, watch members of the military returning home to surprise their kids. Just get ready to explain to a coworker why you’re sobbing at your desk.
  41. Get out in the woods. You don’t have to hike the Appalachian Trail tomorrow, but a stroll through the forest is a great way to reset the day.
  42. Write it out. Don’t let the broken soundtracks just spin in your head. Shrink them down to size by putting them on a piece of paper.
  43. Do something nice for someone else. Get a friend flowers, take a coworker to the airport, buy coffee for a neighbor, etc.
  44. Create a playlist of your favorite chill-out or GET-UP songs. The first might be full of Danish ambient composers who make entire albums of what the lonely streets of Copenhagen sound like at night. The second might be full of what it would sound like if The Fast and the Furious 27 was filmed in Copenhagen.
  45. Take a break from your phone if any of your broken soundtracks are connected to how much time you’re spending on it.

If you can’t find a turn-down technique on that list that works for you, then here’s #51: “Stop lying.” I know you didn’t already try the Steven Seagal Russia idea, which NOBODY saw coming. Putin named him as a special envoy to America? What does that even mean?

If you do something different though, let me know. I’m always looking for fresh ways to turn down my soundtracks and would love to see what you’re up to. Post your favorite turn-down technique on Instagram with the hashtag #Soundtracks and tag me @JonAcuff so I see it.

Retiring broken soundtracks is a fun way to start dealing with overthinking. If you do that, you’ll be miles ahead of 99 percent of the people on the planet who never think about what they think.

But the real fun is when you learn to replace your soundtracks with music you actually want to listen to.

Excerpt: Jon Acuff, Soundtracks, Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright 2021. Used by Permission. 

Enjoy Jon Acuff’s talk from GLS22 as well as 12 additional leadership talks and bonus content with GLS22 On-Demand! Learn more at GlobalLeadership.org/OnDemand.

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About the Author

Jon Acuff
New York Times Best-Selling Author

Jon Acuff is the New York Times best-selling author of seven books, including his newest release, Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution to Overthinking. For over 20 years he’s helped some of the biggest brands in the world tell their story, including The Home Depot, Bose, and Staples. He's an Inc. magazine Top 100 Leadership speaker, and has spoken to hundreds of thousands of people at conferences and companies around the world including: FedEx, Nissan, Microsoft, Chick-fil-A, Nokia, and Comedy Central. He's also written for Time, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Reader's Digest, and MSNBC. His large and highly engaged social media following includes people who look to him for his unique blend of humor, honesty, and hope.

The Global Leadership Summit
GLN Staff Writer

The Global Leadership Summit (GLS) is a two-day infusion of actionable leadership insights and inspiration broadcast to hundreds of host sites across the United States every August. In the following months, the GLS is translated, contextualized and hosted by local leadership committees at hundreds of locations across Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. This global event convenes a world-class faculty who share their distinct perspectives and expertise, inspiring and equipping people around the world with practical leadership skills that can be applied within their context, wherever they have influence, and used to empower positive transformation where it’s needed most. Attracting an audience that represents various industries, including marketplace, non-profit, healthcare, education, government, ministry and corrections, the GLS has become a unique platform, unlike any other, bringing people together to not only empower better leadership within the organizations they represent, but in a growing number of cases around the world, this event also acts as a catalyst for organic local movements initiating systemic, city-wide change. What started as a single event back in 1990’s, the GLS has grown to attract tens of thousands of people today.

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