A friend on Facebook the other day told me he had no ideas. NO IDEAS! He has thousands of ideas every day and apparently doesn’t see any of them. Sometimes people think they don’t have any good ideas when really they just don’t know how to have ideas. If you want to get good at something you need to practice. If you want to love doing something then you need to practice harder. One of the best things to be good at is to have ideas – and then see them!
Making lists is one of the best things I’ve introduced into my daily routine. It’s as important to me now as exercise, meditation, and eating healthy. This will sharpen your mind like you can’t imagine… unless you start making lists.
What happens when you make lists?
Your brain muscles grow strong and quick.
You have your ideas in a physical form in front of you.
Ideas written down make room for and trigger new ideas.
It pushes you to think of options that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
You realize what you know.
When making a list it’s important to hurt yourself. Make your brain squeeze out every last thing it has to offer. You have to push yourself to the point of emptiness, then keep writing, then emptiness again, then keep writing. It isn’t until you get past all the obvious ugly stuff that you can get to the gold. You got to dig deep! And do get deep you need to respect the #1 Rule of List Making:
Never judge an idea while making a list.
This is a perfect place to practice failure. 95% of your ideas are going to be ugly. In six months of practicing every day maybe only 60% of your ideas will be terrible. The law of lists means that most of the list will be trashed in favor of the few golden nuggets. You must not feel bad or stupid about any idea. Even if the thought is completely off-topic, write it down and move on. Don’t get excited about the good ideas either, you got to keep coming up with ideas. This brings me to the #2 Rule of List Making :
Never stop moving your pencil.
If you stop moving your pencil then you’ve stopped thinking. As much as possible just keep writing. Even if you have to write, “I don’t have an idea.” The action of keeping the pencil moving will keep you in the flow of ideas. Don’t let yourself stop, get into that list. This is like a workout for your mind – this is no lazy activity!
Sometimes it’s good to get warmed up with a ‘pointless’ list. Like one about your favorite people or the top things you love about your dog. Then dive into the lists of business ideas, ways to solve a problem, others.
Here is a list of possible lists you could make:
Your own lists of lists you’d like to make
Things you love about your dog
Business ideas (we will go into this specifically in a bit)
Ways to improve your life
Ways you could make your partner happy
Activities you’d like to do
Things you are grateful for
Jobs you would enjoy
Books you could write
Chapters of your autobiography
Trends in the world
Cool things you’ve done
People you would love to work with
People in a position you’d like to be in
Your favorite books
Ways to solve the energy crisis
Ways you could express your passion
Ways you could get paid for expressing your passion
The people you most respect in the world
Unique things about yourself
Common things about yourself
Ways you could have fun today
Implications of a certain news article
Things you could blog about
Lessons you learned from a book
what list does this image make you want to write?
You get the idea. It’s good to make lists that don’t have a specific purpose as well as ones that are used to solve problems. It’s just plain good for the mind.
I’m working on a post to show you how to make lists specifically for business ideas, it’s just like this but with a couple key twists. We are going to learn to mate ideas and aim them into the places we want them to see.
Go ahead and make two lists right now. One purely fun one and then a list of your skills.
Thanks for taking the time to read this! Let me know what you think - the good, the bad, the ugly - in the comments below.