Usually, when having a good idea, we get excited about it instantly. I’m talking about the inspirational moment when the idea pops up in our mind, and we would like to start acting on it immediately, tell everybody about it and celebrate how great it is.
One week, or one month after however, the same idea is still only an idea, due to our oh so busy lives and its many responsibilities.
It is not that every single idea that we don’t act on is a lost opportunity. Luckily, many ideas come back regularly and stick in our minds, but acting on them is notoriously hard and requires not only overcoming the obstacle of actually starting to act, but in the long run a lot of discipline and will-power.
That’s why I wanted to put together – from my personal experience – a list of easy actions to help turn ideas into something tangible. I chose to use the verb “to cultivate", as it implies the idea of consistency and care, something which is required to make something grow over a long period of time.
Keep a list or book of ideas
This method is very simple, so simple that it takes only a few seconds per day to apply.
Whenever an idea comes along, put it in your personal notebook, something that is nowadays integrated into most people’s mobile phone. Personally, I use Clear and Memonic to put down my thoughts into a specific list.
Only the act of writing it down already creates some sort of commitment in your mind to do something about it, and lets it evolve into more specific ideas and actions.
If you are able to establish a regular habit of writing down and elaborating on your ideas you will eventually end up with a detailed plan on how to put your ideas into practice.
Do just something
As I mentioned before, the fear of doing something about your objective can seem overwhelmingly painful.
Most of the time however, once we get into something and start exploring its complexity, the fear disappears and is replaced by clarity about the upcoming tasks and you realize that the fear was an illusion, something that your mind made up in order to not leave your comfort zone.
So go ahead, and start with the most simple, most basic possible action. This will mark the beginning of a path that you don’t know where it leads, but at least point you into a direction where you can go.
Create, but also discard
With the huge amount of ideas that we have written down and are eager to put into reality, we might at times feel a bit lost, because we want to do “too many things at the same time".
Sometimes ideas are brillant, other times they were just valid in a very particular situation or context, but don’t have any longevity because the topic turned out to be too complicated, too heavy or too useless.
That’s why I suggest we should radically filter out ideas and relentlessly discard the ones that we are not 100% convinced of and make space for the most potential ones.
Set time slots
Ever had the feeling you never find the time to dedicate to your own stuff?
Very common, but if you think about it, not so difficult to resolve. Imagine why you are at work at 9 in the morning, or why you appear just in time for the match of your favorite soccer team.
First of all, because you care, second because you have consciously reserved time spans for these activities. So if you really care about your idea and value its importance, set aside some time during the week, sacrifice other (leisure) activities, and focus only on this particular thing during that period of time.
When you notice it’s worth it and you need more time, reserve 2 hours per week and incrementally invest more hours as the project evolves.
Steal, copy and imitate
Not having the resources at one’s fingertips seems to be one of the most common problems why people don’t start acting.
If that’s the case, I would propose you to look at an article about “The Basic Elements Of Creativity" (taken from brainpickings.com) whose conclusion is that copying is actually a part of every creative process.
A historic example of this approach is the following story I took from a book that I read a long time ago:
Orson Welles, director of the legendary movie “Citizen Kane" could not find any backers, but he did raise a small sum for casting.
He begged, borrowed and cajoled people into building sets and shooting full-blown screen tests which eventually formed a third of the film.
Backers could see what they were getting. He got the money.
Embrace the unperfect
Though most of us desire good to perfect results from the beginning, things do usually not turn out to be that simple during the first attempts, but usually evolve over timing until becoming the masterpiece they deserve to be.
That’s why I like to use the following distinction:
Continous improvement is better than delayed perfection
It often happens that striving for a perfect result, you get stuck in a problem and don’t know how to move on. You feel demotivated and tense, because time is moving forward, but you don’t seem to be making any progress.
What if however you leave the problem aside, let it rest for a while, accept that it is temporarily unperfect, but still there and accessible for future improvements.
It happened a lot of times to me that when moving on with a different task, I undeliberately found the solution for a previous problem, because since I was making progress again, I opened my mind for new ideas, got inspired and creative again.
Talk and grow your ideas
Do you remember the last time when you talked with somebody about a topic that you were both very excited about ?
Sharing and exchanging ideas can be a very inspring process. So what if you carry your idea out into the world and tell everyone about it.
People are usually more open to giving positive, constructive feedback than we think they are. Most of the time, they even contribute to your initial concept with another idea. The idea starts to grow…
Even criticism (as long as it is constructive and not personal) can be a great thing. Other people and their opinions can help you look at a problem from different perspectives, thus making it easier to make an overall evaluation of your ideas’s feasability.
With this input, I hope I have been able to give you some inspiration on how to start cultivating your ideas right away.
Keep in mind that there is no perfect moment to start acting, you just need to go out and create.
If the idea is too big, I found it helpful to set little milestones, or even baby steps in order to have small, but regular achievements over time. They will give you the right motivation to stay on target.