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5 Crazy-Simple Hacks to Never Run Out of Good Ideas Again

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5 Crazy-Simple Hacks to Never Run Out of Good Ideas Again

Have you ever felt stuck when coming up with an idea? Maybe you need a business idea, or an article idea, or an idea to help you solve a problem. And you feel like your idea well has run dry.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone, and it feels like dangerous territory. Ideas are the lifeblood of entrepreneurship. They enable you to solve problems, engage your audience, and come up with new products.

Any threat to your ability to think up new ideas can seem as if it’s threatening your business. But don’t worry., there are a few things you can do to make sure you never run out of ideas again.

Try these 5  tips to become a true idea machine:

 

1. Flex your idea muscle

Your ability to come up with ideas can be strengthened. Like a bicep or quad muscle, the more you work your idea generation muscle, the stronger it becomes. In the book Choose Yourself,  James Altucher suggests writing 10 ideas every day. They don’t have to be good ideas or live up to any standard.

They just have to be ideas. Whether you’re writing ideas to solve small problems you have around the house, business ideas or project ideas, write down 10 ideas every single day. Over the course of a year, you’ll have written 3,650 ideas and have strengthened that idea muscle.

“Ideas come from everything” – Alfred Hitchcock

2. Ask questions

It’s an interesting truth that many of us have never considered. The strength and quantity of our ideas are limited to the strength of our sphere of experience and knowledge. For instance, it’s difficult to come up with an idea to solve a problem you don’t know exists, a creative solution you never knew was a possibility, or an angle you’ve never even imagined.

So how do you expand your sphere of experience and knowledge? By borrowing some of other people’s. If you ask meaningful questions of others, you’ll be able to expand your knowledge of other people’s problems, solutions, and stories.

Next time you meet a stranger, instead of asking “what do you do?” or “how are you?” ask “what is the best thing that happened to you today?” or “what’s one solution you wish you had right now?”. These may seem odd questions, but they’ll help you break the idea seal.

 

3. Get out of your comfort zone

Ideas are a creative process. Think about it, when you’re generating ideas you’re just coming up with creative solutions to problems. So it makes sense that to come up with more creative ideas, you need to expand your creative capacities, and one of the best ways to do this is to get out of your comfort zone.

Getting out of your comfort zone by traveling, putting yourself out there, and doing things outside of your norm will help you become more creative and therefore generate more ideas. So do something you wouldn’t normally do. You may be surprised with the ideas you’re able to come up with.

 

4. Stop being a “tryhard”

Have you ever noticed that your best ideas come to you when you’re doing something mundane? You’re showering, driving or going for a walk, and all of a sudden…Eureka! Your brain has been graced by the presence of the idea fairy.

Yet during those times when you’re actually trying to come up with an idea, it’s really difficult. Maybe you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with a product name or article topic. And you find yourself sitting there in dumb silence, with the cursor blinking or a blank page in front of you. Your brain is blank. That’s because you’re trying too hard.

Like relationships, ideas don’t come to tryhards – they come to people who aren’t actively seeking them. So instead of trying too hard to come up with ideas, let your mind wander. Engage in mundane, routine activities to give your brain the space it needs to come up with the next big idea.

“No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo

5. Immerse yourself

Ideas don’t stand alone. They come from somewhere. The last idea you came up with was likely influenced by some piece of knowledge you had absorbed or something somebody said. Without the information we take in, we would have no base from which to generate ideas.

That’s where immersion comes in. If you want to generate a ton of ideas, you need to immerse yourself in information. Read autobiographies. Immerse yourself in articles and books and podcasts. Tune into the radio and watch documentaries and movies. Have conversations.

Ideas are often sparked by unexpected connections between the problem you’re trying to solve and something seemingly unrelated. By immersing yourself in idea-fueling information, you’ll be able to make more of those connections and become far more effective in coming up with creative ideas and solutions.

So go out and start generating ideas. Right now, it might seem like you’ll never have a good idea again.

But as you start to flex that idea muscle, ask questions, get out of your comfort zone, and immerse yourself (without trying too hard), you’ll notice the ideas begin to flow naturally again.And if you continue to engage in these activities, those ideas will keep coming.

Thank you for reading my article! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!
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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Sarah

    May 20, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    Writing ten ideas a day is a great idea. Sometimes things that seem zany one minute seem totally doable the next!

  2. Guilherme

    Aug 11, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    great post and I think many people need to take it to heart.
    I am by nature very curious and connect things well (but suck at a hell lot of other things).

    One key to creativity I find is wandering, I noticed that as I increased my podcast consumption, I much more alert on the go and my brain shuts down.

    Funny enough, another great way to stretch my idea muscle I found is commenting on blogs 🙂 Take an idea, think about it and connect your own ideas to it and you’ll end-up moving into interesting pathways.

  3. Wanda

    Aug 10, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Thank-you Sarah,

    5 great tips to help us become idea machines! I particularly liked #5. It really does help when you surround yourself with relevant information. That’s when the ideas start to flow in!

  4. Dotchamou Zakari

    Aug 8, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    Thank you for these valuable ideas you are sharing with us. We are all artist but our modern life do anything possible to kill our genius and talent. If we want to live our true life, we have to be an artist. I think that your post gives simple tips on how to be creative.
    I want to share these quotes with all the readers of this post

    “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

    “Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people” – Leo Burnett

  5. Ethan Bridges

    Aug 8, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Hey Sarah,

    Nice post!

    I like your “tryhard” tip. That’s a nice way to balance all tension.

    I always try to maintain a level of curiosity, the more annoying level, the better 🙂 But I guard against overthinking too. Curiosity will take us a long way. They can stop us from making excuses.

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Life

9 Personal Growth Lessons I Learned From Being Bullied

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Wherever I went, bullying seemed to follow me. Whether it was school, work or even family, I could never seem to find any kind of escape. For years, I was stuck in the victim mindset, constantly asking myself what I did to deserve this kind of behaviour towards me. I decided to turn my struggle into a personal growth strategy to help others who might be silently struggling with what I did.

Here are some of the key personal growth lessons I learnt from my harrowing experiences:

1. Be the victim

Be the victim but put an early as possible expiration date on this. Realise that it is okay to feel sorry for yourself; it is okay to validate yourself by reinforcing the fact that you didn’t deserve what happened to you. This will help you give yourself the compassion that you need in that moment. Recognition of the hurt and validation are the first steps towards starting the healing process, but the key is not to hang around there for too long otherwise you will be stuck with a victim mentality.

2. Why?

This is a question that is often asked – why did this happen to me? Were the stars misaligned or is this karma for sneaking the last doughnut from the party? Rather than getting bogged down analysing why you went through the harrowing experience, focus on what you learnt from the experience. Sometimes, it can be something as simple as finding your voice and setting boundaries. Every difficult situation offers an opportunity to learn.

3. Focus on the lesson, not on the pain

Whenever faced with a tough situation, ask yourself, “What am I learning from this?” Often, when drowning in dire circumstances, we cannot see light and we fear that any light might be an oncoming train. The best way to deal with this fear and overwhelm is to refocus your thoughts. Oftentimes, the lesson falls under one of the following categories: perseverance, patience, consistency and my personal favourite – staying true to who you are.

4. Control the controllable

Within every difficult situation, there are always factors you can control: your responses, your disposition and your actions. Using what you can control, redirect your energy on what you CAN do instead of what you can’t do. Sometimes, what you can do is simply getting through your day and giving everything you can. This helps in building self-confidence and self-esteem.

“Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.” – Steve Maraboli

5. You do you

It is a normal human desire to be liked by those around us. Avoid trying to change who you are based on what others say about you. It is very tempting to do this because we all want to feel accepted and want to feel that we belong. The more you do you, the more you will attract people who love you for the “real” you.

6. It is not about you

When people criticize you incessantly, recognise that they are battling their own demons and they are easily triggered. You are not the real reason for their hurtful behaviour, they are filled with fear, anger and hurt which they vent out to others. You can only give what you have and if fear, anger and hurt is all you have, it is the only place from which you will function.

7. You have the power to choose

It is easy to forget that we always have the power of our choices and decisions, while our circumstances may be overwhelming, we can still make wise choices so as not to become victims of our circumstances. We should never forget this power as this is what keeps us afloat and breathing when caught in a flood of difficulties.

8. Revenge is not the answer

While it is perfectly normal and human to wish revenge on those who have hurt us, it is crucial to note that what we wish upon others, mirrors back to us. Wishing your culprits to battle incessant sneezing while stuck in traffic controlling explosive diarrhea might give a moment of satisfaction, but is this something you are willing to risk mirroring back to you? I certainly am not. Put quite simply – negativity breeds negativity while positivity breeds positivity. Remember, you have the power to choose.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

9. Forgive

Don’t gasp so loudly. Yes, forgive those who have hurt you. Why? It definitely doesn’t absolve them of the hurt they caused you, but it releases you from the chains of negativity that are binding and rooting you in place preventing you from moving on. How do you forgive? Ask whatever higher power you believe in to filter those who have hurt you out of your life, sending them blessings and healing wherever they may need it in their lives while also blessing over positive outcomes for all of you.

I have used this technique personally and I swear by it. Sending blessings and healing while asking for positive outcomes, results in all these wonderful things happening to you as well. Giving what you have mirrors back to you. You have the power to forgive, let go and move on. This is a choice that you also happen to have the power to choose.

The next time you feel stuck and overwhelmed by your circumstances, revisit these personal growth lessons and apply them to your unique situation. You will be glad that you did.


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6 Reasons Why You Should Never Glorify Failure After You’ve Failed

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Many people are ashamed of failure. If they so much as smell a whiff of failure, they quit instantly because the public notices it quickly. But you shouldn’t be ashamed of failure. A lot of people have failed. I’ve failed over and over again in my career, business, relationships and more. Yet, I keep trying because failure isn’t the final verdict. (more…)

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Life

How to Move Forward When All Seems Lost

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A few weeks ago, the relationship of my venture with a long-term client turned rocky. Losing them would mean a huge loss for my business, but it appeared like that’s where we were headed. My mind raced with unpleasant thoughts. Maybe the client had figured out that I couldn’t lead my team well. Maybe I was not good enough to be an entrepreneur. Maybe I was not good enough to do anything.

Why was the world so unfair?! Within moments, my anxiety had shot through the roof and my heart was racing faster than an F1 car engine. But I know I’m not the only one who feels like this.

Why Problems Overwhelm Us

As human beings, we’re good at solving problems, so they shouldn’t stress us out. Yet, they do just that. Why?

Consider some of these situations in life. When a relationship is headed for troubled waters, we wonder whether our partner loves us anymore. Our mind unearths memories of when we got dumped or rejected. We blame ourselves for falling for the wrong people and tell ourselves that we’re not worth receiving love.

How do you think the relationship will steer after that? If we cannot stick to a diet, we think of other times when we gave up. We remember what people said about things that we couldn’t do and ask ourselves, “were they right?” We tell ourselves that we don’t have what it takes to succeed at anything.

Do you think we’ll find the grit to stick to the diet after this? So here we are… thinking we’re not good enough to be entrepreneurs, to be loved, to get promoted, or to achieve our personal goals. Notice a pattern yet? We move in the wrong direction. The destination is to achieve the goal. And unless we stop giving into emotions and start addressing situations, we’ll keep failing to get there.

Negative emotions (and even extremely positive ones) blur our vision. The more we focus on them, the deeper we go into how we feel. We either get angry because things aren’t the way we want them to be, or get paralyzed by the fear of the worst possible outcome. This means we pull away from the one thing we must do to set things right — take action.

“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there and worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the loss of sleep.” – Dale Carnegie

How to Take Action in the Face of Problems

Most human beings are good at solving problems. Where we get blindsided is at diagnosing the right problem. To diagnose the right problem, we must address the situation instead of emotions. We must see things for what they are, collect facts on what we’re worrying about, and then ask ourselves, “What should I do next?”

In his book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”, Dale Carnegie wrote: “Neither you nor I nor Einstein nor the Supreme Court of the United States is brilliant enough to reach an intelligent decision on any problem without first getting the facts.”

To address the tricky situation with my client, I took the following three steps:

1. First, I acknowledged the feeling

Solving a problem doesn’t mean ignoring emotions. It’s important to acknowledge how you feel because it reveals the path, but domesticating your emotions is more important. I acknowledged how I felt by saying, “I feel anxious because the client might not want to work with us anymore and this will be a financial loss for us.”

Note how I said “I feel anxious” and not “I’m a loser.” If I had given into negative chatter, I wouldn’t have uncovered the direction to move in (the part after “because”). This is why domesticating emotions is crucial.

2. Next, I prepared for the worst

We often run from our worst fears rather than facing them despite knowing that the worst outcome rarely comes true. The result is that we stay stuck in fear instead of pushing beyond it. And we never discover what we’re really capable of, which sucks.

In my case, the worst meant losing the client. It would hurt but it was the truth. However, we could get more clients. Plus we already had other clients who helped us pay the bills. In other words, I wouldn’t have to live on the street.

The moment I accepted this, a huge weight got lifted off my chest. This prepared me for the third and final step.

“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.” – Zig Ziglar

3. Lastly, I examined the situation

Examining a situation means setting aside your emotional baggage and focusing on facts. When you trust that you’ll be okay, you become better at diagnosing the real problem. Once I felt lighter, I could see things clearly.

I used the 5 Whys Technique (asking “why” five times) to figure out the real reason for the client’s dissatisfaction. Then I collected data on the issue and on what we had previously delivered.

Finally, I reached out to the CEO of the client and held a detailed and constructive discussion based on my findings. Within four days, the CEO and I were back to the way things were before.

The best way to prepare for tomorrow is to give today your best. I’m not sure whether the issue with the client got resolved for good or whether the client won’t pack up and leave one day. However, I am sure that I’m prepared to handle such cases better today than I was yesterday.

Control your emotions instead of letting them run amok. Accept things for what they are instead of what you want them to be. Be realistic instead of delusional. Address the situation instead of succumbing to emotions.

Don’t preempt what lies ten miles ahead and get paralyzed by fear. Address what lies clearly in front of you and keep moving. One day you’ll be surprised about how close to your destination you are.

How do you move forward when all hope seems to be lost? Share your advice below!

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Life

8 Effective Tips to Improve Your Emotional Wellbeing

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You know what they say, “Health Is Wealth”. But, more often than not, we only mean it in the context of physical health. There’s no question that being fit is the world’s greatest treasure. Unfortunately, not a lot of us take time out to look after our emotional health and wellbeing.

Let’s not forget – it’s ‘Mind Over Matter’. So, if you are able to take control of your emotions, thoughts, how you feel through the day and how you respond to myriad situations; there’s nothing quite like it. When you become the master of your emotions; health, prosperity, and basically all good things are bound to follow you.

With that said, here are 8 surefire ways that will improve your emotional wellbeing:

1. Practice Mindfulness

Half the time, we don’t even know what we’re thinking or how we’re feeling. That’s because we let our minds operate on autopilot. It’s time to take control of your mind. Be aware of what and how you feel throughout the day. The upside to this practice is that you can detect negative emotions right on the onset and quickly change them and their corresponding feeling.

Feelings of anger, jealousy, hatred; they are not good for the mind, soul, or the body. Paying close attention to the spectrum of emotions you experience throughout the day, will help you detect the negative ones and kick them away before they fester deep enough to take away your happiness and emotional health.

2. Stay Physically Active

As you engage in physical activities, your brain produces a whole bunch of feel-good hormones such as endorphins and dopamine. These hormones are what causes the ‘elated’ or ‘euphoric’ feeling. Being physically active uplifts your mood and your outlook towards life. It readies you to take the challenges more head-on instead of becoming overwhelmed by the littlest of inconvenience.

You are better able to analyze tough situations and take a more proactive rather than a reactive approach. It’s no question physical health is in direct proportion with emotional health. A healthy mind resides in a healthy body and vice versa.

“Caring for the mind is as important and crucial as caring for the body. In fact, one cannot be healthy without the other.” – Sid Garza-Hillman

3. Get Sufficient Sleep

Ever noticed how you feel depressed and cranky, and just out of focus the day you fail to get a good night’s sleep? Well, if you fail to get sufficient sleep for a couple of days, you are bound to feel more depressed, cranky and eventually more prone to a host of negative emotions. Research shows that sleep deprivation sends amygdala – our brain’s emotional response center into overdrive.

Amygdala controls our immediate emotional responses. When it becomes overactive, we become more reactive rather than active. We become more irritable, angry and anxious. A good night’s sleep is vital to improving your emotional wellbeing.

4. Develop a New Hobby

Learn to swim. Try arts and crafts. How about painting? Swimming is a ‘happy’ activity. You get to make new friends and stay fit. Arts and crafts, as we all know, tends to have a relaxing effect on the mind and the nerves.

Just the process of creating something from scratch makes you confident and gets those creative juices flowing. Similarly, painting helps you express yourself. All these factors together create a ‘happy you’. The one who likes to engage in new things instead of resisting change or difficult situations.

5. Eat Healthy

Ever heard of the phrase, “You are what you eat”? Well, it’s true to the last syllable. When you eat foods rich in salt, sodium, fat – you are bound to feel lethargic. It takes longer for the body to digest such foods. That means the body is forced to deprive organs of blood and use it for the digestion purpose.

Result? You become lazy, moody, not ready to take any responsibility which leads to feeling cranky and irritable. On the other hand, eating fibrous vegetables, fruits, salads, and complex sugars keeps you upbeat and healthy.

6. Laugh Your Heart Out

Laughter is the best medicine. That is why they have a dedicated ‘laughter session’ in yoga studios. You don’t even have to mean it. The simple act of spreading your cheeks and pretending to laugh sends a signal to your body that you are happy.

And what happens when you are happy? Your brain releases happy hormones like dopamine, serotonin and what not. In fact, many studies have gone so far as to stipulate that laughter alone is capable of treating all kinds of physical ailments. Why should emotional ailments be any different?

7. Try Relaxation Techniques

‘’Visualization technique’’ where you imagine yourself in a happy place is a surefire way to calm your nerves if you find yourself distressed. You may also try praying to elate yourself. Praying is good for the mind and the soul.

Controlled breathing or ‘biofeedback technique’ are some other relaxation techniques that can tame how you feel and even your bodily functions. Try surrounding yourself with aromatherapy or scented candles because the smell is a big factor in governing how we feel.

“Positive emotional energy is the key to health, happiness and wellbeing. The more positive you are, the better your life will be in every area.” – Brian Tracy

8. Count Your Blessings

We all have so much to be thankful for. It could be a friend who stands by you or a happy family. Good health. Financial freedom. Make a list of all the things that you feel grateful for in your life. If it’s a person, be sure to communicate your feelings and express your gratitude.

You will feel so much happier. Happiness is the diet of a healthy mind and an intelligent emotional response mechanism. You could also try writing a poem or simply expressing your gratitude through the power of prayers.

There are so many ways to become emotionally intelligent and not one of them requires any investment or special skills. Practically anyone and everyone can do it. All you need is the will and the desire.

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