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How to Stop Ruining Your Best Ideas

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Ever have a great idea - an idea so big and grand that, for a split second, it makes the universe feel full of possibility? Maybe it’s an idea for a business you could start, or a dream to spend a year traveling around the world, or a vision that you could be an artist or writer. For just a moment, all limits and rules drop away and it feels as though anything can happen.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a question like this to someone: “What do you REALLY want to do?” or “If money were no object, how would you spend your time?” And I can’t tell you how many of those times, what follows, in a spontaneous moment of unguarded clarity, is an answer that is so brilliant, so natural and makes so much SENSE.

And just as soon as the idea pops into your mind - BAM!!! The dreaded voice of reason rears its ugly head. It starts to tell you why this won’t work. Maybe it gives you a litany of reasons why the economy is bad or you’re not talented enough. Perhaps the critical voice that lives in your head is well-versed in statistics (mine is) - it will start to recite all the names of people you know who have tried and failed. Maybe the critical voice can’t think of anyone who has even tried - so it tells you that that is proof why it can’t work.

We’ve been taught to believe that the voice of reason is the objective one. We trust it. We think it’s rational. So we quiet our big dream, and it scurries away into the recesses of our mind, never to be heard from again, except in quiet moments, in the empty space (which is sometimes why we avoid the quiet, empty space, but that’s another blog posting for another day).

When we don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to linger in possibility, we miss finding out what might happen. Most of the time, there are ways to make it happen. Most of the time, when people stay in that empty space long enough, open to exploring the idea, they see that there are resources and helpful people all around them - the fear just blinded them to realizing it. Once this happens, the idea starts to seem more feasible. In fact, things start aligning into place. A plan can be created. The idea no longer seems so unfeasible.

Add a Comment2 Comments

Thanks for this--very inspirational and motivating!

I don't have any grand ideas at the moment, but am struggling to reach a goal within a time limit that I've given myself, and many of your suggestions are great for even pushing through to an important life goal. These goals can be small (going to the gym 3x/week) or large (getting life insurance, planning will--very uncomfortable to talk about the worst-case scenario stuff and easy to procrastinate!).

The suggestions that especially resonated with me were:
Give yourself permission - it is similar to breaking down a large project or large goal into smaller pieces, by saying, "I'm just researching the topic of life insurance now", without having to make a commitment until further down the road.

#$%! Fear was the other helpful suggestion. I have started spinning (taking cycle classes at the gym), and have seen great results from this. However, when I'm in the throws of cycling fast and hard, my mind starts telling me that I'm getting dizzy, can't catch my breath, and can feel my heart beat "too fast". Yes, sometimes these are signs to get to the doctor, but I have been working up to this fitness level, and for the first time, am pushing myself beyond comfort-zone to test my strength and stamina. I am not dizzy, I can catch my breath, and my heart is racing... but all within healthy limits. It is just my brain being fearful and questioning if this is OK. I constantly have to #$%! fear when I spin (by the way--my brain did this when I first started swimming, then kickboxing. Now, these activities are fun and invigorating, just another reminder to myself that I can do this!)

Thanks again for sharing! Look forward to reading more articles from you.

May 26, 2009 - 1:56pm
(reply to Alison Beaver)

Thanks for such a great, insightful response! Sounds like you're well on your way. I like the way that you applied the idea of permission to something like researching life insurance. It gives us space to get more information-sometimes we're dreading the decision so much that we put the whole thing off. If we can just dip the toe in just a bit, and get more information, the decision won't be so overwhelming.

Hmm. I'm no doctor (so this is not medical advice:))-but I like your take that maybe the discomfort you are feeling is actually a sign that you are pushing out of your comfort level. So when you start to notice it, you can reframe it-instead of letting it scare you, you can remind yourself that it's a sign you're growing and reaching toward bigger goals (unless of course, you start to hurt, and then you should contact your doctor!).

Thanks again for your comments-

May 26, 2009 - 2:02pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.