There’s this great quote from Jim Rohn that says, “Ideas can be life-changing. Sometimes all you need to open the door is just one more good idea.”
The question is do you find idea generation easy, or is it more like pulling teeth!
Ideas hold the potential to change our lives because they open doors and create opportunities. They help you solve problems, start a business, launch new products, repair your relationship, inspire your child, and live your very best life.
Ideas help you maximize the big and the little things. From figuring out how to rebuild your life after a catastrophe, to persuading an unpersuadable toddler it’s time for bed, ideas are fuel for growth, discovery, and evolution.
If you can generate ideas at will, you’ll never be stuck. You’ll never be out of options. You’ll never lose all your control.
Instead, you can dive into your thinking, figure it out, and mastermind your way forward. You’ll be the one who can answer the tough questions. You’ll be the one who others will turn to in tough times. You’ll also be the one who’s never broke for long because if you need to, you can come up with a long list of money making ideas – some of which will work.
For as long as you can keep thinking of ideas, the door is never permanently shut. You can always walk down another avenue or try another path. Your options are only ever limited by the number of ideas you can generate.
So if ideas are so powerful, what is the secret to having more of them?
Here’s the really good news…
Idea generation is a talent AND a skill
We’ve all been around people who are able to reel off idea after idea. They’re so smart – it’s why you stand in awe and marvel at their exceptional intelligence!
It’s frustrating. Why can’t you do the same?
Perhaps you can…
Some people do have a natural talent for thinking on their feet and making connections that actually go somewhere.
The rest of us just have to work hard at developing the skill. Let me show you how you can do that.
A step-by-step guide to idea generation
- UNDERSTAND HOW YOU GENERATE IDEAS
The dictionary says an idea is ‘a thought or a suggestion about a possible course of action’.
If that’s the case, it follows that ideas come after a trigger. For example:
- You’re asked a question
- You’re stuck with a problem
- You’re asked for your opinion on what you would do
When faced with a trigger (like the ones above), your brain goes hunting for answers.
There’s a lot it can dive into for example: past experiences, your personal beliefs about what’s right and wrong, stories you’ve heard, books you’ve read, conversations you’ve had, knowledge you’ve learned etc.
In short, your brain gets busy digging around to find answers that fit. It sifts through everything then comes back with possibilities.
That’s how you create ideas.
The mistake most people make is they stop with the superficial, obvious surface level responses.
If you want to be able to generate good ideas at will, you have to train your brain to go deeper. And one of the most powerful way to do that is to make idea generation a habit.
- PRACTICE EVERYDAY
You can’t run a marathon without training. You can’t play an instrument when you first pick it up. You can’t build a successful business overnight.
To achieve these goals you need to commit to a routine of consistent action. You have to train regularly, practice your scales daily, or commit to making sales calls everyday.
When you take action consistently, you’ll activate the compound effect. You’ll also get better and more skillful over time. Where you started out as a novice, time (and committed action) can turn you into an expert.
The exact same principle applies to idea generation.
Make it a daily habit and with time you’ll get better at making new connections, seeing things differently, and thinking up something new. Practice regularly and good ideas will flow more easily.
- CREATE A HABIT YOU CAN TRACK
A good way to make idea generation habitual is to set yourself a daily goal that you can measure and track. Build a chain of ‘checked’ days and you’ll soon reach a point where it’s more painful to break the chain than it is to practice your habit for another day.
Here’s a suggested daily idea generation practice you could try:
- Dedicate a notebook that you use solely for idea generation
- Set yourself a challenge and come up with TEN ideas in response. For example:
- Industries you could disrupt
- Meals you want to cook
- Content pieces you could write
- Alternatively, invest in the Edison Deck. This pack of 100 prompt cards helps fuel your idea generation habit. This card deck contains 100 prompt cards split into 7 categories: education & career, entrepreneurship, finances, love & relationships, personal development, recreation, and random. No need to create prompts of your own – this deck does that for you.
- Whether you pull an Edison prompt or you create your own, write down the ideas that come to mind.
You’ll find that a few ideas will spill out effortlessly – then you might get stuck! You might judge ideas as not being good enough and not write them down. Resist that temptation. The act of writing an idea (even what you perceive to be a bad one) clears space for more thoughts to bubble up.
It’s worth coming up with all ideas in a single sitting. Don’t let yourself off the hook! Instead, push through the resistance and force yourself to dig into the less obvious ideas (it’s the key reason for listing out ten). Under pressure to write ten, your brain will start thinking laterally and outside the box.
When you have no option but to think of ideas, you’ll be amazed at the genius which can flood out. We always artificially limit our abilities. Generating 10 ideas every day will blast the lid off yours.
- REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE DOING THIS
The goal of your daily practice isn’t to always generate ideas that you’ll use (although many times you will).
Instead, this is about leveraging a habit that will enable you to generate a flood of ideas when you need to. Build your idea-generating muscle and next time you the a roadblock, you’ll be in a much better position to think yourself out of it.
- FEED YOUR BRAIN
Steve Jobs famously said this about creativity.
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”
So good ideas are the result of connecting things up in different and unusual ways!
If that’s the case, it makes sense to feed your brain with a wide range of influences – so you’ll have plenty of references to pull upon when you need an idea.
The more you have to dig through, the richer your spectrum of ideas will become.
This is your permission slip to go wild!
- Pick up books that aren’t the genre you’d usually read
- Take a different route home
- Dive into a Facebook group of people who have conflicting views
- Listen to debate shows
- Visit a new city or a new country and see how different communities and cultures live
- Change your job or seek out different projects
- Force yourself out of your comfort zone
- Watch TED Talks on subjects you know nothing about
- Talk to a kid and see the world through their eyes
- Journal to discover your innermost thoughts
- Burn incense or aromatherapy oils to stimulate your senses
- Pick a dish off a menu you don’t know how to pronounce
- Listen to a podcast in a new genre
- Read autobiographies to see how different people think
You get the picture. Infuse your brain and senses with new influences and experiences and you’ll have a ton more reference points you can pull on when you need a good idea.
PLAN TO IMPLEMENT THE GOOD IDEAS
It’s going to be impossible to implement all the ideas you have. To be fair, you won’t want to!
A lot of your ideas won’t be practical and they won’t fit with what’s happening in your life right now. But that doesn’t matter. Remember the goal of this habit is to get good at generating ideas – not necessarily to find good ideas.
But when you stumble upon a good one, you will want to run with it.
Here’s what to do with those ideas:
- Brainstorm around the idea to flesh it out and figure out what’s involved
- Set a goal (the SELF Journal structure will help)
- Figure out the first step (however small)
- Execute on that first step to get out of the starting blocks and build momentum
The life you want is a series of ideas away.
All you need to do is keep opening more doors and stepping through them. Being able to generate ideas at will gives you a distinct advantage over everyone else because you get to find more keys.
Are you ready to think bigger and achieve more?
If so, commit to your idea-generation practice. It’s a simple, but powerful way to empower you to make the most of your life.