My ideas are like billboards on a busy street. They’re all over the place and often make no sense.
If I got a dollar for every time I came up with a new idea and didn’t execute it, I’d be rich by now.
Most of my new ideas either end up in a glossy, spiral-bound notebook. Or, lose their value even before they end up on paper. On that note, most ideas fall under two categories:
- They look good in your head.
- They look good on paper.
Both have one thing in common — they often seem horrendous when you pursue them.
Even when it comes to people, we are divided by how ideas come to us:
- Some of us struggle to come up with even one “truly original idea.”
- Others are so replete with ideas that they struggle to choose one out of many.
I fall somewhere in the middle. There are days when my idea journal is as empty as my wallet on the 15th of every month. Then there are days when ideas hit me like a wave, often knocking me out.
Well, regardless of whether your ideas look good in your head or on paper, come in waves or trickles, the tricks below will make the process a lot easier for you.
Find Ideas that Solve Problems
I know I’m stating the obvious. But, more often than not, we confine ourselves to ideas that are close to what we’re good at or what we’re passionate about. Instead, we should dig deep and look for the strangest of the strange problems in our day-to-day snags. Ideas then, not only solve our own problems but help others as well.
Think about all the ideas that changed the world:
When early humans went from being hunters and gatherers to settling down for agricultural societies, their focus shifted towards harvesting. The more they harvested, the more they deduced systems to store and manage their harvest. As a result, complex writing systems were invented.
Sir Isaac Newton’s tale of an apple falling on his head may be wildly apocryphal. Nonetheless, his insights on gravity changed everything we knew about the world. From the tides to convection, gravity affects it all.
Philosophers have been talking about human rights for ages. But the subject matter garnered more attention when modern problem-solvers reflected on the horrors of World War II. With this, the UN’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” was born. From Amnesty to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, humans rights have come far. All because of problem solvers who saw the world differently.
A funny example of creating ideas through problems comes from Richard Linklater’s ‘School of Rock.’ Jack Black, who teaches song composition to a classroom full of kids, uses their teenage hijinks as a cue to create a song. The song goes like this:
I didn’t get no allowance today
So now I’m really ticked off
I had to do my chores today
So I am really ticked off
All you bullies get out of my way
Because I am really ticked off
Step off ! Step off !
Step off ! Step off !
If I do what you say
I might turn into a robot
Do my chore day after day
And they don’t want any lip
No ! So step off ! Step off !
Step off ! Step off ! Step off !
Step off, everybody.
That right there is how even the most trivial problems can become brilliant ideas. All it takes is a little bit of creativity and, of course, some commitment.
Prioritize the Bigger Problem
Problems are many, solutions a few. Ideas in abundance, execution askew.
Now that you have a list of ideas (or problems), the next step is execution. But before execution, you need to choose the right idea you want to work on. Choices, well, they’re CONFUSING AND OVERWHELMING.
So to prioritize one idea over the other, figure out the weight of each problem. For instance, let’s say you have two problem-solving writing prompts in hand: one deals with being consistent as a writer, and the other covers all the issues that a newbie writer might face. Based on what you are experiencing as a writer, you get to decide which of the two holds more heft.
It goes without saying — the problem with more heft should be a priority.
How to Execute an Idea?
An idea is no good without execution. Unfortunately, most of us never reach this stage of the process.
However, the good thing here is that when your idea is a personal problem, you’re determined to solve it. Thus, you’ll be driven to execute it.
If you’re still struggling with execution, stop worrying about the outcome. Good or bad, execution is always better than excessive strategizing, overthinking, and then not taking action at all.
Regardless of what the result will be, you’ll learn something new out of it. And that’s all that matters.