Take some time to sit and ponder it all. Where do ideas come from? When writing songs, I have had a handful that hit me all at once. Somehow, I’m able to play the song straight through on the first attempt. It is as if I have already played the song a thousand times. The song already existed out in the ether somewhere and I’m lucky enough to be the conduit. Conversely, I have some ideas that have been festering in my brain for years and years. For some reason, I remain optimistic about the potential and I am unable to let go of the idea.
When you complete a task, there will be a void that now needs to be filled with something new. Maybe you are writing a song, or making a podcast, or building a shed in the backyard. When you are done, you can sit back, admire your work, and sip some lemonade. However, you can only do that for so long before you get the itch. You got to get back to work. You have a new void that must be filled. It won’t take long for the next project to be underway. I would venture that before that backyard shed is completed, you have already planned out how to tackle the landscaping.
Some tasks are purely to-do list items. The real important projects in life are a long term and ongoing endeavor. These tasks are typically really hard at first, but they will get easier. A routine will develop surrounding how the work should be done. The time of day, day of the week, location, and general environmental factors become standardized. The specifics of how you approach a project will be a gauge to demonstrate the project’s progression. Once you figure out the best way to tackle something, it then becomes routine. This consistent approach to a project allows it to become a habit or part of your daily grind. This allows room for more new stuff. If you start every morning with pushups, they are brutal at first. You struggle through one or two excruciating pushups. It won’t be long until you need more. You add in some pull ups. You don’t stop doing pushups. You build on them. Pushups are now a part of your daily routine. If you do something new on a regular basis, that thing becomes normal. It’s part of who you are.
One new project can lead to the next project or the next several. Now it is all a matter of choices. You have to decide what to do next. There are so many ideas floating around in my head. I have a massive list of projects that remain in an ever changing state of potential. I aggressively swap dates and shift priorities depending on what feels most urgent. This is probably not a great way to approach my life’s work. I think long term planning is important, but I am not good at it. I am grateful for so many ideas and am learning that I don’t have to take action on all of them. Some ideas might never develop and that is ok. The projects that nag and fester will be the ones that get attention. Then they will either merge into my daily routine or fizzle out. The nagging project then gets replaced by more new ideas. Ideas are a disease.
So many of the world’s most important inventions were developed by only a handful of people. This might seem counterintuitive at first. However, I believe it can be attributed to the fact that the majority of people don’t permit themselves time and space for their minds to wander/wonder. The historical geniuses were successful because they allowed themselves time to develop an idea and they gave themselves permission to fail. Most importantly, they allowed themselves the grace of failing quickly. We all should take some time with an empty slate and ponder the expanses.
When you feel the itch, you must pick an idea and get started. There are a lot of ways to hold yourself accountable to following through with an idea. None of them matter until you get started. When deciding what to attempt, don’t worry about making a bad choice. You must simply begin. If it works, continue. If it fizzles, move on to the next idea. Most of the time you have to sift through lots of mediocre or even bad ideas to find the good ones. It’s ok to fail at something. Fail quickly and then move on. Please, don’t ever give up. Allow your distracted mind to drift around in the place where ideas like to hide. Find something that excites you. Give yourself permission to act on it. Just get started.
If you are interested in my podcast episode on this topic, listen below.
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