Like many creatives and entrepreneurs, I suffer from an affliction – it’s called ‘Having-Too-Many-Ideas’, also known as ‘Idea-ism’.
Symptoms include Crippling indecision. Procrastination. Frequent bouts of self-doubt punctuated with delusions of grandeur. Notebooks full of scribbles. A camera full of pictures. A ridiculous number of Pinterest boards. Thousands of half-finished projects. No breathing space in your day. A brain full of ideas trying to get out at the most inconvenient times and frequent daydreaming.
There are many more symptoms and depending on other factors in our lives, these aches and pains can come and go in varying degrees of severity.
One of the bitterest aspects of this disorder is that we need those moments of hyper-confidence and extreme insecurity to enable us find an acceptable level of comfort in order to live with this condition. This is ‘the Sweet Spot’, the moment where our ideas become practical actions.
There is no cure for a creative and enquiring mind, but there are many simple remedies to alleviate some of the symptoms and help you to find the Sweet Spot.
Don’t despair. You are not alone and you can live with this condition in a happy and productive way.
You are in control, it does not control you!
The first step is to accept that you have Idea-ism and that you need to do something about it. Start by researching and experimenting with a prescription that may include some of the treatments from this list:
Find a mentor. Either a formal or informal relationship where you can bounce ideas around, get encouragement, take practical action or just get a kick up the backside.
Do a skills course or workshop. Often we’ll have an idea but are unsure how to implement it. Perhaps your IT skills need updating or you’d like to find a simpler or more professional way to do something?
Go on a Business Course. Learn to be more businesslike in your approach and get some focus and clarity before taking your next steps. A practical business course will give you project management tools, space to discuss ideas with like-minded people, structure and new contacts.
Read: books, blogs, magazines and content, etc. There is a wealth of information out there. I recommend Pinterest as a simple way to collate links to websites, content and blogs. But don’t just collect it, go through it and plan the resulting actions into your day.
Write. Writing it down helps get it out of your head, making space for other priorities. Ideas marinate much better on a page than in your brain.
Improve your time management. Learn some time management techniques and experiment with different tools. Prioritise and accept that you can’t do everything all at once, so be sensible about what you can and can’t do and by when.
Get feedback. Join critique groups, clubs, host a focus group, join a forum, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask people what they think or to seek advice. Most people are happy to help (as long as you ask nicely).
Start a blog. Share your thoughts, ideas and inspirations openly and invite feedback. I initially started my ‘Idea-ism’ blog as a way to express this and it has grown and evolved since: http://ideaism.blogspot.co.uk/
If you would prefer to self-medicate, here’s a tool to help you to decide, realistically, what you can and can’t do and what you are willing or unwilling to do.
- Start by mind mapping your ideas, either on your own or with someone else
- Write down everything that you think of or that is suggested to you – initially, treat it as an info. dump. Don’t edit, let the ideas flow
- Next, go through your list and allocate each idea or task to the appropriate category:
- I can do this easily. In this category, place the things you are both willing and able to do and need minimal support to achieve. These are the things you know inside out and back to front, the things you do on autopilot. It’s important to include here the things that you enjoy.
- I can do this if I apply myself. These are things you have some knowledge or experience of and are willing to do. You may need to get help with them, seek advice or learn some new skills, but the reward would justify the effort.
- Worth investigating. These are things you are interested in but may have little experience of. They may involve more comprehensive research and as a result are likely to take more time to get established.
- Would do if desperate. These are the things you are capable of doing and could probably make some quick money with but you may not enjoy them. These could be your contingency plans.
- No way. This is the stuff you won’t do. Stuff that maybe you can’t do or are unwilling to consider at this point.
- Draw a pentagon on a big piece of paper. Write the tasks/ideas on individual sticky notes, shift them around and play with where they belong.
- Don’t be afraid to be ruthless when deciding on categories.
How do you live with Idea-ism and what prescription has worked for you?