I often hear brilliant, creative women say, “I have too many ideas.”
“I don’t know which one to choose, so I’m not doing anything” or “I never finish anything because I get distracted by whatever new idea comes along.”
Today I want to talk about this “having too many ideas.”
I don’t think the problem is really that we have too many ideas. The problem is that we have forgotten how to live as prolific idea-havers (even though that is our natural state).
Children have dozens of creative ideas each day. Sitting at dinnertime with a four-year-old, in a mere five minutes you hear a stream of them: Here’s what else I can do with this straw! Here’s what happens if I make a castle out of these mashed potatoes! Oh, and here’s an unconventional way I can sit in this chair, mom!
As we grow up, our idea-generating atrophies. We learn to worry about whether our ideas will be seen as “practical” or “smart.” We become less open to novel possibilities as we form a narrative about the ways of the world.
Fast forward…in our adult lives, an idea for some new project comes to us. Maybe the idea to bring a new product or service into the world through a business. Or to share our story in some particular way. A sliver of that lost self – the idea-haver – peeks out.
Most of us nearly panic! Is this a good idea or a bad one? I don’t know exactly how to make it happen! And I have other ideas, too – how to choose?!
We’ve forgotten – that having an idea is no big deal, that at our very core we are idea-havers, that our natural state is to have a copious flow of ideas coming through, all the time.
So, if you are struggling in your playing big journey because you have multiple ideas pulling you in different directions, what can you do?
You can remember it is healthy to have lots of ideas in a week, or in a day, or in a particularly fruitful hour.
You can remember that ideas come to you not because each one needs to be realized, but because you are a creative, creating being.
You can hold your ideas lightly, playfully, with a wink that says to them, “I see you. You’re delightful. And you’re welcome here.”
You can even think of ideas like movements of the body, simply signs of your aliveness. You wouldn’t say, “I moved my body in so many different motions and directions today – walking and sitting and getting up and driving and cooking – and I’m overwhelmed by all the different movements.” Ideas are just like that – naturally coming forth from us – because we are alive.
From there, how can we choose which ideas to go further with?
Some ideas will especially call to you. They will nag you in the nicest way. They will likely feel scary but they will also feel right. That’s good information.
As you get to know those ideas, some aspects will show themselves to be most feasible – that’s good information, too.
From there, you can choose an idea to dance with, to travel farther with, for a time.
Please think of it like that. Not with judgement and high stakes and a demand for a life plan, but as a further journey of discovery you’ll take with this idea, or a courtship between you and it. Go for it with the focus and the joy of a child who just discovered a new spot of terrain to explore in the backyard. Look up close, and dig, and get messy.
And never forget, that’s simply you: Ideas, ideas, ideas. Impulses to create, forge, and make manifest.
(P.S. One more thing – if instead you are in a drought of ideas, if this post has made you realize your idea-fountain has gotten dried up, that’s okay, too. That happens to all of us in some chapters of our lives. A great way to start to get things flowing again is my free guide on Everyday Creativity: 50 Simple Ways to Be Creative – download your copy here.)
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon