I am indebted to my client, M, for this expression – the ideas loop.
M has a part-time day job, and a significant other, a cat, a dog, and lots and lots of ideas.
She has worked on some fascinating projects of her own creation, it was why I was drawn to her. She’s already embarked very seriously on the planning for her 2017 idea. And it’s a Big One.
And, for November, she’s joined one of those thirty day challenges to put to bed one of her previous ideas. Finally.
She confessed that as soon as she sat down to the current project, she was inundated with other ideas past, present and future, all vying for her attention and overwhelming her, disabling her from focus on the current one.
When I read her say this, I thought I knew the answer, or at least that I had some thoughts which might alleviate the problem.
Like me, M is a Creator as are many of my clients. And those who aren’t are entrepreneurs and creatives and our gift and our curse is a never-ending abundance of ideas.
Our challenge is how to order them in a way which is useful and profitable.
My own solution for me (and this isn’t going to work for M) is to channel all my ideas into my one business. This is why I encourage the majority of my clients to streamline everything and bring it all together into One Woman One Website wherever possible, because running and marketing one business is a full time job for a solopreneur.
But what if you can’t or won’t do that, like M?
It took me a while to get my head around M. It is useful to have her in my life because I’ve realised that her ideas and all the excitement and creativity bound up in them are paramount to her. Much more important to her right now than making a living from her abundance of creative ideas is living those ideas and adventures in the first person.
Many creative people keep an ideas journal, where you write them down so you don’t lose them. You don’t need to do this. It is rather scarce. Remember you are never going to run out of ideas, you have gazillions of them, an infinite supply, and all the good ones are going to come back, they cannot be lost. But it can be a good strategy to free up brain space and reduce ideas overwhelm. And, if you are so inclined, you might also be able to evaluate them in your ideas journal and rank them in order of your intention to work on them.
My coaching colleague Margaret Collins came up with another solution, that of sequential focus, i.e. we do one idea first, then we do the next one next, and each will get its turn. Yes, I agree, this is a fantastic strategy.
M had also recently experienced the frustration of seeing someone else bringing one of “her” ideas into life, before she’d had a chance to. I’ve had that one too, many times. The thing is that ideas are up there in divine escrow available to all of us at the same time. Any one of us can download one of those ideas at any time, but it is only the person who implements the idea who “wins”. Otherwise it’s just ideas sex. Which for many may be enough. It’s pretty wonderful in itself. And very tempting. I like to indulge myself in many bouts of ideas sex.
You can’t copyright an idea. They don’t belong to you. And you don’t need to hold onto them so tightly either. Like buses, there’ll be another one along in a minute.
Yesterday I felt the solution to M’s ideas overwhelm was for her to speak to them, the ideas. To reassure them. To thank them for appearing in her life right now, and to remind them she’d written them all down in her ideas book and she wouldn’t be forgetting about any of them anytime soon, and that they could relax, she had their best interests at heart; she and they are partners. And that, for now, they could go back in their box and wait their turn.
‘Cos if you are a busy woman with a part-time job and a life, and you are committed to a 30day challenge for November, what you really need to do most of all is focus on that one idea to the exclusion of all else, except your part-time job and your life, for the thirty days. That’s what you signed up to. It’s the way to get stuff done. To get one idea launched. It’s the whole point.
That’s the way to manifest and birth an idea into the world, in this case a book. A book which is worth birthing and which is already nearly 18 months overdue. It’s the sort of book which, with focus, can easily be brought forth within the 30 days, but only if the other ideas retreat to make room.
I don’t think M thought my idea was too bonkers, that one of talking to the other ideas and reassuring them. And I know I can’t get M to commit to just one idea, or one idea at a time, for life. But perhaps I can get her to do that for just 30 days? Perhaps she can decide to do that.
And I believe that would make us both happy, and M the proud author of her long-overdue and very wonderful book. It would also liberate her from the ideas loop, where all your best ideas keep coming back to haunt you and stop you focussing on the one right in front of you right now and which is as good as any other, in fact one of your very best. It deserves your love and focus.