How to be an Idea Machine

I’m trying to get better at coming up with ideas.  When trying to envision something that doesn’t exist, or isn’t your current reality, it’s extremely easy to say, “I don’t know” and give up before we even begin to think.  But that response doesn’t cause change or improve your situation.  It merely keeps you where you are, which is fine, unless you’re looking to make a change.

There are 3 truths about generating ideas that I find helpful as I attempt to improve my ability to come up with ideas.  They are:

  1. Most of your ideas won’t be any good. I find this liberating because it frees me up from thinking that all my ideas need to be stellar.  Instead, I can just focus on coming up with a large quantity of ideas for problem.  From that quantity, there he is bound to be something that creates the spark of a good idea.
  1. You don’t need to come up with original ideas. Instead, build on existing ideas.  Take prepackaged salad you get at the grocery store.  There’s nothing new there: chopped up lettuce.  The idea was to do the chopping for the customer so as to be more convenient.  Sounds like a good idea to me!  And from the number of stores that carry bags of chopped up lettuce, I’d say a lot of other people thought it was a good idea too!
  1. You can get better at coming up with ideas. The three best ways I can think of to do this are:
    • Every day, come up with 10 ideas for a problem you’re facing.
    • Read books or listen to podcasts in your area of interest on a daily basis.
    • Be curious about life. Observe similarities between different events, scenarios, or problems.

Life is more fun when you’re engaged and using your mind to chart the course for the life you want to live.  Begin developing your ability to generate actionable ideas and take charge of the direction you want your life to go.  That’s what successful people do.  People like you.


How Will it Affect Them

Have you ever had something that you wanted to do that you knew would cause stress or anxiety to someone close to you?  What did you do?  How did you make a decision in light of the other person’s anxiety?

I was listening to a podcast this week where a married couple was talking about life stuff and sharing some recent examples from their own marriage.  One of the spouses was planning on getting a tattoo, while the other was really anxious and struggling with the decision, hoping their spouse would not go through with it.  The struggling spouse realized that it was not their decision to make and acknowledged that they had no right to tell their spouse not to get the tattoo.  The spouse getting the tattoo also agreed that it was their decision alone to make.

What struck me about the spouse getting the tattoo was how they didn’t seem have any concern for the anxiety or concerns of their partner.  There didn’t appear to be any consideration given to struggle and stress their other-half was having, and the message that was indirectly communicated multiple times was, “you’re just going to have to deal with it.”

I’m not saying that we need to make all of our decisions based on what other people think.  That would be ridiculous.  However, when we know in advance that our decisions will have a negative impact on those closest to us; I think it warrants some extra thought on our end, and certainly some honest discussion with each other.

Those closest to us are close for a reason.  They’re important to us. We like being around them.  We love them.

When faced with a decision that could negatively impact a loved one, be sure to spend the necessary amount of time communicating, which is both talking AND listening, so you know exactly where they’re coming from.  Based on the feedback you get, and the importance of what you’re considering, you’ll be able to make a decision that, although it may still cause the other person stress and anxiety, will communicate that you wanted and considered their point of view as part of your decision making process.

How to Get Unstuck

Sometimes I get stuck.  Occasionally, I’ll have a goal I’m working toward, but then I find myself getting stalled out and not making minimal to zero progress for a few days or even weeks.  It’s frustrating! What I’ve discovered recently is that there is an actual force that keeps us from moving forward.  That force is called resistance.

Resistance is anything that distracts us and takes our mind and effort away from moving toward our goals.  Steven Pressfield field wrote a great book about resistance titled Do the Work.  I read this book last week and it was eye-opening to see the role resistance plays in my own life.  The biggest take-away from this book was to be aware of when resistance is blocking my efforts.  When I’m aware of the presence of resistance, I can recognize it for what it is and begin to take steps to push through.

Pushing through resistance is actually fun, as well as motivating, because when I do, it feels like I’m making real progress toward my goals.  The following are some ways you can push through resistance:

  • See the big picture.  Know where it is that you want your goals to take you and have a clear picture of what that looks like.
  • Know why you want to achieve your goal.  Are you frustrated by your current situation, or feel like you need to be doing something better suited to how you are geared?  Whatever the reason, be mindful of it.  Always know the why behind the goal.
  • Understand the cost of not taking action.  Know that nothing will change until you cause something to happen.  No action = no result!  Are you OK if nothing changes?
  • Determine what steps you can take today.  It doesn’t have to be a large step.  Even a small step in the right direction is still a step in the right direction.
  • Just do something!  Commit to taking action every day, whether you feel like it or not.
  • Be motivated by the progress.  After you’ve strung a few days of successful progress together, look back to see how far you’ve come.  Be motivated by the progress and commit that you will not break the chain of daily progress.  You are not required to do everything in a single day, just plan on doing something every day.

It’s now time to punch resistance in the face with clear vision and by taking action on a continual daily basis.  What are you waiting for?  All that separates you from your goal is a thin veil of resistance.  Start punching through today.


Have a Plan… but be Ready to Adjust

I like having a plan.  Whether it’s for a project, an event, or for attaining goals for the year, a plan provides a course of action to get from where I am to where I want to go.  However, in my experience, I’ve realized that even the best plans often need to be adjusted not long after they’ve been started.

That often happens to me with projects at work and events and goals at home. A plan gets created and as soon as it gets started, some change or unexpected piece of information comes to light which causes an alteration to the plan.  It’s the nature of getting from Point A to Pont B in any endeavor.  Unexpected items come up and adjustments need to be made to the original plan in order to continue moving forward.

I used to get really frustrated when this occurred.  It wasn’t until after I realized that change and the unexpected were normal parts of executing a plan that I started becoming less frustrated when adjustment were needed.  Now, when the unexpected comes up, requiring a change to the original plan, it feels normal.  This perspective has allowed me to focus on what adjustment needs to be made rather than being stalled out because I’m too frustrated and focused on the fact that everything didn’t’ go according to plan.

What project, goal, or event do you have coming up that could benefit from a plan?  Whatever it is, create a plan that will take you from where you are to where you want to go, and get started, with the realization that you’ll need to make adjustments along the way.  Knowing this will keep you from getting flustered when plans change and also cause you to experience greater achievement and growth as a result.