Thinking hurts. A session of difficult, mind crunching thought is more strenuous than a tough weight lifting session at the gym. You literally can feel your mind flexing, pushing, fighting as the neurons bounce around and try and solve the problem at hand. You leave sweating, exhausted, and dreaming of just sitting on the couch, flipping on the TV, and letting your mind recover and numb itself to thoughtless entertainment.
But the key is to get back at it, just like any exercise. Your mind will be sore, but you need to continue and train that muscle. The first time you step on a treadmill, it hurts and you feel way out of shape. But if you keep at it, you can click up the speed and increase your distance. Same with thinking. The first time you sit down and really try and generate ideas, solutions, innovation, it hurts and you’d love to quit.
Recently, a couple of my friends and I decided to get together, and just brainstorm ideas for new businesses. I thought it was a fantastic idea, became very excited, but as the date approached, I wondered where we’d start. How do you put together an ‘idea generation’ meeting? Do we identify problems? Do we look at other successful business models, and see where else they could be applied? Seriously, where’s the starting point?
I did some research, and came across an article by James Altchur suggesting that every day, I write down 10 new ideas. And they can be literally anything. 10 Ways to Improve the Bathroom Experience, 10 Things that Would Make Formal Clothes More Comfortable, 10 Topics to Create Idea Lists For Next Week; literally anything. It just has to be 10 ideas a day. So I got started, and it sucked. I mean, it really really hurt. The first 3 ideas of every list I created were pretty easy, and then I just started to drag, and my head hurt, and I wanted to watch TV.
I stuck with it, and every single day, I continued to write down 10 new ideas. Oftentimes they’re extremely stupid, awful ideas. But with 10 ideas a day, I’ll have 3,650 ideas over the course of the year. And really, I don’t care if 3,649 are god awful, there has to be something in there worth value. As I continue to write down 10 ideas a day, it progressively gets easier, just like running on the treadmill. Now, ideas start coming into my mind when I’m not brainstorming, and I have an ‘Ideas’ note on my phone that continues to grow.
Other than your heart, your brain is your most important muscle. You have to flex and train that brain, and you’ll be amazed of the cool ideas you’ll start jotting down once you get cranking. My warning to you is this, though; if you start generating 10 ideas daily, there’s a good chance you won’t be at your job much longer. Something will come to you, probably sooner than later, that really excites you, and you’re going to want to pursue.
Becoming an idea generating machine is not an easy feat. You’ll sweat, you’ll hurt, and you’ll be discouraged over and over again. And you will want to quit. But just image having 3,650 ideas a year to pick from if you ever want to start your own business. Getting started is easy; grab a pen, a notepad, and dedicate half your lunch break every day to idea generation. Maybe your first list should be “10 Ways I Hope Idea Generation Can Improve My Life,” and then whenever you’re struggling refer back to page one of your notebook, and push on.
Josh Ludin started a subscription box company called Blind Surprise. Additionally, he runs a website featuring cool gadgets from around the internet. His passion is helping young entrepreneurs start online businesses and build profitable eCommerce stores.