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Where Will Your Great Ideas Come From?

Posted By Ellen Jackson 8th of February 2017 Writing Content 18

You have so many posts to write on your blog every year - but where will those ideas come from? How can we shake up our inspiration? | ProBlogger

By ProBlogger expert Ellen Jackson of Potential Psychology.

I have big plans for 2017, blog-wise and business-wise.

I bet you do too.

My word for this year is ‘bigger.’ I’m going to think bigger, to play bigger. After a year of hard work and incremental improvement it’s time for a quantum leap.  It’s time to shake things up; to think differently about what I do.

A new year is a great time to plan, to get organised and to come up with your big ideas. But where do these great ideas come from?

Returning to work after a holiday break I’ve found it difficult to fire up the brain and get the ideas flowing. The heart is willing, the motivation present but the grey matter is luxuriating in holiday mode.

I could keep busy with Netflix and cheese until inspiration hits, but time waits for no woman – no matter how much she’s enjoying Brooklyn Nine-Nine and marinated feta.

So to crank up I’ve uncovered what psychology says about getting ideas to flow. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Original and functional

When we talk about ideas, we’re talking about creativity. Creativity is not the preserve of the arts and artistic. It’s the ability to solve problems, to see things differently and to come up with new concepts and approaches. We are all creative.

At the heart of creativity is originality and functionality. A bright idea is pointless if it’s not practical, and repeating the same old, same old won’t lead to a bigger, better result.

This is good news for the blogger and online entreprenuer. You can put your creativity to work to develop practical results. Fresh blog topics. New digital products. Irrisistable online services.

You might find new and more productive ways to work.

But how?

Psychologists recommend six simple strategies for upping your creativity.

  1. Allow your mind to wander to unleash fruitful ideas. To do this well, without your mind meandering to your next imagined meal, there’s a three step process. Step one, make sure you have thought long and hard about the problem or question already. Step two, disengage from external tasks and let your mind relax. Take a shower, jog or cook. Do something enjoyable that requires little thought or attention. Step three, turn your attention inward to your stream of thoughts. This is called volitional daydreaming and it might just be where your next great idea is hiding. Have a pen and paper handy to jot it down.
  2. Delay a little. Turns out that putting things off is not all bad. Studies have shown that delaying a task can lead to divergent thinking. That’s the blue-sky thinking we need to arrive at new ideas and material. Stick too close to time and task and you get to your first idea and stick there. Delay and your mind has time to wander and discover alternate possibilities. Don’t put things off too long though. Once you’ve got a few options to choose from, get back on task. The stress of an impending deadline can be enough to shut things down for good.
  3. Hang out on your own. Solitude is creativity’s friend. Spend every hour in chatter and distraction and your mind is too cluttered to arrive new ideas. Take time out to walk, meditate and observe the world in silence. This allows your brain’s imagination network to engage. You’ll see things you haven’t seen and think things you haven’t thought. Let your mind meander and see where it takes you. Just make sure to leave your phone at home.
  4. Embrace doubt.Self doubt is a creativity crusher. When we doubt ourselves and allow negative thoughts to take hold our minds close down. The ideas stall. This is a normal response to the uncertainty that comes from creative thought. ‘I can’t do that. That’s a ridiculous idea. There’s no way that would work.’ 

Sound familiar?

Put those thoughts aside and you free your mind to fulfil its creative potential. Practice helps. So does mental reframing – thinking differently about the situation. Believe that others think you’ll fail? Prove them wrong! Don’t believe you have good ideas? Remind yourself of every great idea you’ve had in the past. Doubt is normal. Embrace it and you free yourself.

  1. Give yourself permission to fail. I wear a bangle on my wrist that says, ‘What if I fall? Oh but my darling what if you fly?‘ It’s a reminder that failure is always an option – but so is success. The beauty of embracing failure is that often our greatest achievements come from trying, trying and trying again. When we’re prepared to take risks and try new way of thinking we may fail several times but in each iteration we improve on where we’ve been before.

To embrace the possibility of failure, jump in and get the creative juices flowing, consider your latest idea and ask yourself these questions:

  • What happens if I flip this idea around?
  • What happens if I apply this idea to an entirely new situation?
  • What happens if I take something away from this idea?
  • What happens if I pull this apart and put it together differently?
  • What happens if I scrap this idea and approach the problem from a completely different angle?

Are you ready to get started? Me too.

Here’s to great ideas!

About Ellen Jackson
Ellen Jackson from Potential Psychology is a psychologist who does things differently. She writes about people and why we do what we do. She coaches, she teaches and she helps workplaces to do the people part better.
Comments
  1. Hello Ellen,

    Yes, we always shy away from failures, and that quote on your bangle makes complete sense. We have to experience failures to move forward and achieve our goals. Nicely written, and well thought of.

    Thanks

    • Thanks Praveen. Glad you like it. I can’t tell you how often I glance at that bangle and it gives me the courage I need to try a little harder.
      With best,
      Ellen.

  2. Most good ideas came from previous observation of beauty or ingenuity, coupled with a current problem, deficiency or void requiring solution.

    • Observing others’ creativity is definitely a great source of inspiration!

      • Most of the great ideas come from Quora (I read a lot of Quora stuff).

        That’s a great platform to spend time on. It not only gives you an opportunity to connect with great people but also gives you a ton of ideas you can use to create a better blog and you can learn a lot of stuff from there.

        I also follow James “write 10 ideas a day” tactic.

        It gives me enough energy to plan enough content ideas for my posts.

        Great post Ellen.

  3. You hooked me with the “Brooklyn 99” reference. Great points in your read. If you haven’t heard “you can’t succeed without accepting failure”, I just don’t know what to say. Letting your mind wander is a fantastic idea. You also mentioned “showering” and “jogging”, which are two of my favorite things. I never thought of using that time to get creative. Thats for the great read, Ellen!

    • So glad you liked it Mike. The research on creativity and showering was conducted by Scott Barry Kaufman who also hosts a fantastic podcast – The Psychology Podcast. Far more interesting than it sounds ;-) How good is Brooklyn 99?

  4. Thank you for this. I find myself doing a lot of what is mentioned in this post, but I’m still not where I want to be or expected to be at this point. Problem is, I think bigger but I procrastinate when it comes to taking the actual steps towards bigger.

    • Big picture thinking is great Ronda but you need to take small steps to make progress. Procrastination is often associated with fear of failure and perfectionism. Best to break your goals down into tiny little steps and take one day at a time. Good luck!

  5. Hi Ellen,

    Beautiful article you have here. Failures are just a stepping stones to success and embracing them is way to overcome them.
    Looking forward to apply them.

    Best Regards

  6. Hi Elen

    I like your idea of playing with brain. But, once we take a next move from any task, are we not taking a way from the experiences we did?

    Thanks

    • There’s nothing lost Ritu. All experience is captured somewhere in your mind. By being mindful and keeping your thoughts and ideas uncluttered you give yourself a better chance of retrieving the important information when it’s required.
      Thanks for your question.

  7. As far as my creativity and my work are concerned, my ideas usually come from my competitors. I am an Android developer and open source contributors. Since I am in a field where you have to create beautiful apps and games and that by minimizing the lines of codes, what I usually do is that I try to review the codes of my competitor’s open source apps. I try to analyze their methods and then try to implement them in my project. I know my comment might be a bit confusing, and I can’t just explain my whole scenario here, but that’s what I deal with every day.

    • Building on the ideas of others is a big part of creativity John. There are only so many new ideas in the world. Using others’ work and improving upon it is just as creative as starting from scratch.

  8. 2016 was not good for me. I lost many things like my work, passion and dedication to my work. Then i cleared my head and thought about 2017, i mean how will be this year. i planned so many things that should i do for this year for my personal satisfaction. i am getting back to old beautifull days.

    • So glad to hear that 2017 is looking like a better year for you. I love your attitude! Best of luck with it and remember to talk to a professional if you find things are getting to tough.

  9. Hey Ellen,

    Glad to read your interesting experience. Creativity flows outward from Spirit to touch our hearts and inspire our minds with visions of what is new and possible.

    Creativity is considered as process through which we give tangible form to the subtle hints from unmanifested dreams. You have scattered so many significant facts regarding this topic and it will very helpful for people to get motivate and inspiration. Eventually, thanks for sharing your worthy thought with us.

    With best regards,

    Amar kumar

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