What is the idea bungee?
If you have ever had that major rush of having an idea you will know the adrenaline it brings. The only thing that I could imagine it could compare to, is a bungee jump over the ocean. Not that I would ever do that as I am a big wimp!
People who are considered to be Scanners, a term used for people who are constantly having ideas, know the idea bungee only too well. There’s getting the idea, the jump with the huge adrenalin rush. This after all, is the best idea you have ever had, until the next inevitable one. Then after the idea, there are the smaller bounces when you get the mini highs as you expand on the idea in your head. But now is also the time for the mini-lows as you start to see the issues with putting your idea into action. Inevitably the momentum dies and you are released and left treading water in the ocean.
What you need now is to have bungeed over an ocean of dolphins. The dolphins are the small wins, they encourage you to swim the long distance to the shore. Or maybe for you, it’s the fear of sharks that keep you going.
Scott Belsky talks about the idea generation trap
So as I write this, I am swimming and hoping for dolphins. I write as the swimmer with the big “L” on my swimming cap. Feel free to learn from my small wins or the times I have given up and reclimbed the idea bungee. I will share wiser words from those who are the Olympic dolphin swimmers too. (Have I overdone the dolphin metaphor yet?)
Choosing The Right Idea (for Now)
Decide on a period of time for your idea?
For me, the first stage of the idea bungee is to try and work out if it’s worth the swim. You are not choosing an idea forever, but want to choose something that you are prepared to work on for a minimum period of time. That time period can be up to you, 30 days, 60 days or more.
Would you really like working on your idea?
I have made the mistake of choosing the wrong idea time and time again, but am hoping I have learned my lesson. One of the most important things to know is what motivates you. At one point I even created a list with average scores out of ten for my ideas. It went something like this:
- How much will I enjoy working on this? /10
- How easily can I do this project? /10
- Am I likely to make money from this project? /10
- How likely am I to want to work on this project for more than a month? /10
TOTAL AVERAGE out of 10
What I discovered is that there is a big difference between the projects you like the idea of compared to the ones you will ACTUALLY ENJOY WORKING ON. I have been to several Business Start-up Weekends. At these events, you can pitch your business ideas. These get voted on and then teams are formed to work on the ideas over the weekend. I have pitched multiple ideas at these events and a couple have been chosen. One idea was to create a site where people could commission artists to create reasonably priced bespoke fine art for them. As we were working on the idea I realised, I liked coming up with the idea and I’d like to use the website. However to actually get the site built and market it didn’t really excite me at all.
So I had made a mistake of not giving different weightings to my idea criteria. It turns out that the enjoyment and interest factor plays a much larger part than money in whether I follow through on an idea or not. What are your idea criteria?
Does your idea really fit you?
These two elements go perfectly with what Sarah Sedcole said about her #hereisbeauty project.
“I would say that the way I choose an idea now is to see which one I feel I will have the most fun with! Sounds kind of simple, but it seems to work for me. This is how I was able to focus in on #hereisbeauty Experiment and see it through to completion. The thing about #hereisbeauty is it combined the elements I love most: visuals, happiness, connection. It was like a perfectly overlapping Venn diagram!”
Here is beauty was Sarah’s idea to make people feel happier by taking a photo each day of something beautiful around them.
Choose an idea with the least resistance
When you are thinking which idea to pursue take into account the amount of difficulty/resistance each idea has.
One project I worked on a while ago was to create cards which teach people a topic in 30 days. It was a collaboration with a friend who was already creating physical card based products. There was very little resistance involved in this project to get it started. I had the design skills to create the look of the cards, brand and website, she had the author contacts and product know-how. The idea came from a telephone conversation we had. Within a week I had designed the look of the cards and within another week she had interest from a few authors within a few more. Our resistance came later with the marketing of the cards. We realised that if we wanted to continue we would need to change the business model.
Making Time for Your Idea
Scheduling time for your idea
In Richard Pettitt’s podcast interview he talks about scheduling time for his creative work, just as if it was a paid job for someone else. In an upcoming podcast with Andrea Jordan, she recommends the Pomodoro time management technique.
Can you link your idea to something else
For years I had kept saying to myself that I would try meditation, but of course, it never happened. I found a free 8 week online mindfulness course and decided I would try and cartoon my way through it. I had only recently started creating cartoons and was really enjoying it. Having the course to follow gave me both the structure (2 months) and inspiration to create the cartoons. No only was I getting the benefit of the meditation, but it was keeping me on track for generating cartoons.
Can you link your idea with something else you love or want to do? For example, do you have a favourite cafe you love to go to? Decide that every time you go to the cafe you will work on your idea. You could learn a language while painting or paint image to help you remember phrases.
Chunk your idea down into bite-size pieces
One of the most daunting things about working on any idea is the enormity of it all. Instead of looking it as a whole, break it down into smaller tasks. In my case, working on the mindfulness cartoons I mentioned above, my first chunk/task would be to simply to do a guided meditation. Task 2 might be to scribble ideas of what the character might look like. The third task could be to sketch ideas for what the cartoon is about. The fourth task could be to research illustration styles. My end goal might be to have a multi-million-pound cartoon brand on the level of Snoopy or Dilbert (still hoping), but my first task is simply a ten minute meditation.
On his Red Lemon Club Blog Alex Mathers writes about stripping things down – Strip Before You Stop
“Your project isn’t dead yet. You can still resuscitate — put it on life support and then wake it up again…
When you strip things down.
Not your clothes. But simplify what it was that you required of you.
If you set out to write 500 words a day. Why did you stop? You can write 100; 50; 20.
Spend an hour learning a language each day? Why did you stop? You could learn for 5 minutes.”
Nick Loper creator of Side Hustle Nation talks about a similar thing he calls micro-habits. He breaks his micro-habits into three categories health, wealth and family. He commits to something he can do in less than 60 seconds. For example 1 task before email. The theory is that 60 seconds is so easy to do that you set yourself up for success and you can build on that. He goes into the topic more in his podcast episode – Micro Habits: The Too-Small-to-Fail Plan for Big Results
Do something small every day
One of the things I have found really helpful in sticking with an idea is to be accountable to someone. There are different ways to do this from a one-to-one accountability partner, mentor or coach, you could form or join a group or simply write about your intentions on a blog.
For a while, a friend and I acted as each other’s accountability partners. It was this that probably kept me going when I decide to produce a video course onLogo design. We would talk to each other on Skype every 2 or three weeks and say what we had been doing, any problems we had had, and what we will have done by the time we next speak. Talking to someone else can help to clarify what you need to do, get advice on problems and generally just feel like there is someone to talk things through with. For some weird reason, if you have said you are going to do something by the next time you speak, it makes you much more likely to do it.
Accountability Rewards and Forfeits
Another thing my accountability friend and I tried was to build a reward/forfeit system. We both decided what we have completed next time we spoke, but decided that we would meet at a really nice cafe. If we had completed all our tasks we could have afternoon tea (tea, sandwiches, scones and cake), if not we would sit with a glass of water and pay for the other one’s food. The idea of sitting watching someone eating cake and sandwiches while you just drink tapwater is surprisingly motivating.
Tim Ferris is an advocator of forfeits. In a snippet of a video, I saw with him on Creative Live he talks about using an app called Stickk. First you put up a stake of money which is placed into Escrow. You then choose a charity you don’t like, and if you don’t complete your task the money goes to the charity.
Accountability with a Coach
Of course, you can also pay a mentor or coach to help you do a similar thing. The added benefit here is that you can choose someone who is a specialist in your project area.
In this video, entrepreneur Rob Cubbon talks about a book he was trying to write. He usually sets himself the task of writing at least 500 words a day, so at the end of the month, he has the initial book written. But he’d got stuck, so he moaned to his coach/mentor about how behind he was. His mentor did some quick calculations that at the rate Rob typed, he could complete the initial writing of his book in 5 hours. That was if he was up to the challenge. Rob finished the initial writing of the book in the next two days.
Something about accountability. I made this video a day before the conference (Tropical Think Tank) about how I'd managed to write over 5,000 words in a day or so. I was so amazed by this. Now, however, I'm bogged down in a membership site plugin migration (don't ask). This, however, is all about my business mentor, Steven Aitchison – don't miss it! 🙂
Posted by Rob Cubbon Dot Com on Tuesday, 19 May 2015
Hold yourself accountable online
I asked members of the Your Creative Push Facebook Group, what they did to keep themselves accountable.
Mike Young who runs the Your Creative Push podcast said just knowing that an audience is waiting for a podcast episode keeps him accountable.
Having a blog and writing their project intentions was a common theme. Instagram was also a good motivator and some people felt bad if they had many days without posts.
There are lots of different online challenges you can take part in to try and maintain your motivation. I am currently taking part in The 100 Day project, which was started by Elle Luna. You choose a project unique to you, drawing, writing, blogging, photography, music, business you name it. Then you create something every day, however, small for 100 days and post it on Instagram. I never thought I would take part in a project like this, but I did it for the first time last year. You somehow feel like you are letting yourself down if you don’t complete the 100 days (even if it’s a bit late). Plus you get motivated by seeing what everyone else is creating.
There are lots of similar challenges taking place in all different niches so why not give one a try or start your own. Crystal Moody did just that back in 2014, when she began a project called she called a year of creative habits. She would create a piece of art and photograph it really nicely alongside her breakfast.
“Each day I made a drawing and I shared a photo of it, usually with my breakfast. My year of creative habits project was inspired by artists that write about creativity like Twyla Tharp, Julia Cameron, and Austin Kleon. My rules were simple:
- Choose one creative habit. (That first year I chose drawing)
- Do it every day. (I didn’t miss a single day in 2014!)
- Share my effort/progress with others.
- Reflect and make changes along the way.”
Free Facebook Accountability Group
If you are interested in being in a free Facebook accountability group then I have just set one up. Each week I will create a check-in event where you can state what you achieved in the previous week and what you want to achieve the following week.
Put your money where your mouth is
This is something that has definitely helped me develop an idea. Many years ago I had an idea for a set of kids characters around the theme of the Weather which I had done a bit of work on. I booked a stand at the Licensing Show in London, this was not cheap! Once you commit to something like this you need to make the best of it, which meant creating materials for the show. After the show I had a call from someone who wanted to try and connect me with people he thought might be interested in developing the idea. At one point it was taken on by a TV producer who was trying to sell the idea to Asian TV stations.
Once you know someone is interested in your idea it is also much easier to justify dedicating time to that idea. The project fell through, I don’t regret it I learned a lot, but it shows how investing in yourself and your idea even if in a small way can help you make progress.