If ideas are precious, why do so many people neglect them? It’s not because we have so few and we don’t know what to do with them. It’s because we get too many and we don’t know what to do with them. They’re like bubbles in a breeze. As kids we chased after bubbles but never caught them all because the wind swept most of them away. Others floated to the ground with a splat, and those we did catch quickly burst into nothingness. It’s the same with ideas, and suddenly the term thought bubble seems less coincidental.
But remember, sometimes you did catch a bubble on the tip of you finger and it didn’t immediately pop. It was a good sized one and you marveled over it as you balanced it delicately and called your friends over. If you were lucky, they saw it too, right before it burst into a soapy puddle. You didn’t cry. You were bummed for a second, but then you tried to capture another one … and you did. When you minimize fear, uncertainty and doubt you create possibility.
“Ideas are great,” is a common misnomer. Ideas are neither good nor bad. In fact, they’re nothing tangible until you begin to act on them. Why did we forget how to capture our ideas? I don’t know, but here’s how to remember your new ones.
1. Write them down — or capture them in a voice note or a message to yourself. I like a pen and paper, or index card. It’s not high-tech but it’s almost always faster. Ideas are plentiful but elusive, so you’ve got to be quick to grab them.
After returning from the mall my son dumps his new Lego Bricks on the middle of the dining room table and surveys what he calls his haul. My daughter does the same thing with her bags from Old Navy. Commercial fishermen pull their catch on the deck. You need to do the same thing with your ideas.
2. Review your haul. Pull out all the scraps of paper, post its, etc. that you put your ideas on and look them over. Size them up, but don’t edit them out. Just like a pile of Legos, a bag of clothes or a net of fish, you’re going to process and use them.
- Grab a notebook, journal, blank sheet of paper or your screen, jot down the date and transcribe an idea, If you can remember, make note of what may have triggered the idea. Was it a person or a thing? Did one of your senses pick up on something? Pay attention to this because over time you may find a trend that will help you identify your best ideas.
- Make note of how or where you think you could implement the idea.
- Write down the first action you can take to move the idea forward.
- Do this for every idea you’ve captured through the day, and do this processing each night, then, once a week, go back and check off what you’ve accomplished.
Many of your ideas will not be particularly good. That’s okay, they don’t have to be. You have to train yourself to begin recognizing and capturing them first. Soon you’ll realize that a few of your ideas will be quite good, and if you act on them, could make all the difference.