A false start

I started the idea challenge back in December 2015, but that time I failed to make it a habit. My last recording was early March 2016.

Until last week when I started reading a book by James Altucher and decided to include the idea challenge to my daily ritual (I will write about my daily rituals some other time).

What is the idea challenge?

The idea challenge is very simple. Every day write down 10 ideas. Let your mind go, there is no such thing as a bad idea (in this phase of the process).

In the beginning, this will be hard, but if you keep up the daily habit, you will notice that ideas will come easier. And that is exactly the goal of the idea challenge: to train your brain to become more creative.

Being creative is one thing, but it would be silly to let good ideas go to waste.

This is part 2:

Once a week, go to your ideas of the past week and copy the best ones  to a new sheet or document. If you want a name for this, you could call this idea trimming.

Unless you are a genius, there will be a lot of crappy ideas on your list. This is normal, don’t expect to get 70 brilliant ideas per week.

Especially in the beginning, you won’t have many great ideas left after trimming. Remember that you are training your brain. And training takes time and practise before you become good at something.

Next steps

So what can you actually do with your ideas?

The most obvious would be to pursue them. Take your favourite ideas and add a column next to each idea with the next first steps needed to execute them. You don’t need a full plan, just the first steps.

But even after trimming, no one has time to pursue all their great ideas. Let’s say you need about 6 months to train your brain to become really good at finding good ideas.

Let’s say you need about 6 months to train your brain to become really good at finding good ideas. That’s 10 ideas per day for 6 months or 1825 ideas. Even if you filter our 90% of these ideas, you would still have 18 great ideas left every 6 months, meaning you would have to be able to implement 3 great ideas per month.

Didn’t I write that it would be silly to let good ideas go to waste? I think I did…

That is why there is a part 3 to the idea challenge: idea sharing.

Idea Sharing

Idea sharing is kind of self-explanatory. You share your ideas with others.

This could be giving ideas to your friends, writing about your ideas or even selling them.

If you have a great idea and you don’t have time to work on it, why not think of a friend who could use the idea and make it grow? It will help your friend, bring you good karma and who knows, maybe he or she will be so grateful they will buy you a beer, dinner or a Tesla (one can only hope).

Selling ideas, I think that is what they call consultancy. If you have great ideas that are all in the same niche or area of expertise, why not make a business out of it?

A third option is to write about it. If your ideas are really big, maybe you can write a book about it or a column for your local newspaper. Or you can blog about it.

That is what I will do with my overflow of ideas. I will pick a few good ones and share them on this website.

Why I failed the first time

There are several reasons why I failed my idea challenge back in March.

First of all, I hadn’t really made it a daily habit because I didn’t write down ideas in the weekend. Now I try to write 10 ideas every day and not break the chain.

Another big reason is that I tried to focus too much on business ideas. In the beginning, it is all about training your brain, less about getting great results.

Now I learned some new tricks. When you feel stuck and think you can’t come up with any new idea, take it from another angle. Try to find 10 ideas for a blog post or 10 topics to create a newsletter about or even 10 ideas for making your own movie. Whatever sparks your creative mind to keep the exercise going.

The third thing I forgot was to do the weekly trimming. I kept all my ideas in a long list of ideas in Evernote without filtering out the bad ones. Now I write them down in a little notebook and transfer the good ones to Evernote once a week.

Advanced stuff

After you keep up this new habit for a while, you will notice you are getting better at it and find new ideas throughout the day while doing other things. I use a small Moleskin notebook to carry around and take notes when I feel some idea popping up.

Another great thing that will happen after a while is that you’ll start to see connections between different ideas. 2 average ideas can become a great new idea when you combine them together. Some call this ‘idea sex’, I call it synergy. However you call it, there is greatness to be found in bringing different ideas together!