So let’s say that you are intelligent and creative and you’re coming up with lots of ideas…how do you choose which ones to pursue? I sure do understand this dilemma. As a self-proclaimed ‘idea person’, I generate many ideas per day. In the distant past, I had few filters and I’d be all over the place, never actually finishing or achieving anything. In my own mind, as well as everyone else’s, I was getting a reputation as a ‘flake’, ‘flighty’, and a person who ‘never gets anything done’.
Some people (those who are bereft of ideas and don’t understand the creative mind) might still think that. However, as evidence that it’s not true, may I present the following evidence of my ability to choose appropriate ideas and pursue them until completion:
- Four books completed this year (and this year is only half over). They took a year or more but they are DONE.
- A major renovation and redecorating project completed (except for getting the guy in to finish the baseboards).
- Several paintings completed and either sold, given away or hung in my own home.
- A stained glass window that is finished and finally installed in the window that was designed to accommodate it. (Okay, so it did take me ten years to finish the window—stained glass is HARD!
Okay, so there! I admit I still have a lot on the go but success breeds success and I now know that I can finish stuff when I start. I also know that not every idea is a great one and I’ve learned to filter them—usually.
So how do you know which ideas to pursue and which to let go? That’s your decision to make. You have to create your own criteria based on your vision and your resources. Resources of course meaning time, money, ability, skills, and interest level.
So let’s start with your vision and filtering ideas based on that. I think one of the real purposes of vision boards and ideal days is that they keep you focused on your vision so that you don’t go chasing every bright shiny idea that comes along.
I once had a vision of moving to Spain for a year, perhaps teaching English and experiencing life abroad. I was going to do that when my son left home. So what did I do? Well the New Year’s Eve after John left home, he was back for a visit and while we were having breakfast at the world famous Hoito, I met up with an old friend and was offered a german shepherd puppy. Long story short, I had a wonderful new puppy named Ruby and I had to move. So I bought my first home and….well here I am, living in my home 17 years later and I’ve never been to Spain.
So was it wrong to bring the puppy into my life? No, in fact, if I had kept my eye on my vision, I wouldn’t have had the bright idea to go to Spain for a year. My real dream, written out in numerous Ideal Day’s for a period of time over five years before had me living in my own little house, self-employed, with an SUV and a german shepherd. As it turned out, my Ideal Day came true and it was perfect. The Spain idea was the one I should have filtered based on my vision.
Are you thinking…”Wrong choice! Should have gone to Spain”? Well you see, that’s why I am not even going to try to tell you what you need to filter—it’s absolutely your choice. And my 14 years with Ruby (my dog) was wonderful.
Spain might happen some other time. I still have a little dream of 6 months in Spain, pretending to be someone else completely, an artist and writer and extreme extrover and party woman named Jasmine Jones (but you can call me Jazz). As it turns out, this long term dream was developed before I became a writer and an artist, so I guess I’m working towards it incrementally.
So create a really clear compelling vision—directions in my book Future Pull (brief commercial break!). That vision will help guide you as you filter your many many ideas.
Then of course, you have to create your other criteria based on your immediate goals and your available resources. If I have an idea to learn to play the guitar—a real one by the way and I have the guitar sitting in my office to show for that one—I need to consider whether I have the time and the money to pursue that right now or if I need to put it in my ‘someday’ file.
When I get ideas for a painting I want to create, I have to consider: “Is this the time? Or should I put it aside till I finish the one I’m working on?” I want to pursue a degree in fine arts and someday I may, but right now I don’t have the time or the money to do so.
I also have to consider the commitment I have to the idea. Is it a flash in the pan or something that I can sustain? Last year I was following the Eat Clean Diet and the Body for Life Workout Plan and I loved them both. I was slowly losing weight and definitely getting stronger. Then I had the not-so-bright idea to take a boot camp three evenings a week. It was a ‘flash in the pan’ idea and I should have really investigated before I took the plunge. Because the bootcamp was in the evening, it totally messed up the workout schedule that was working so perfectly for me. I like to work out early morning because it sets me up for the rest of the day. Instead I was doing exercises that didn’t suit me (because of my two knee replacements) in the evening, not sleeping well as a result, and dropped my morning workout. The whole idea flopped.
When I was interviewing successful lifechangers for my book, I spoke to a woman who told me that when she first learned about the Law of Attraction, she thought every opportunity that came her way had to be followed up. She found herself scattered all over the place, wasting money and time and eventually floundering. She now has a rule that an idea has to present itself to her, with an opportunity to pursue it, THREE times before she follows it.
Don’t be afraid that you’ll lose the opportunity if you don’t grab it right away. As someone once told me that her old English granny told her, “If it’s meant for ye, it’ll no pass by ye.” Sounds like good advice to me.
What criteria would you use to weed out the not-so-great ideas? I’d love to hear.