You’ve just come up with an idea, and it’s the BEST idea you’ve ever had. You spend all of your time thinking about it. You eat, sleep and breath your new idea. After investing a good amount of time and effort, all of a sudden you lose interest, and stop. Does this happen to you?
This is a common pattern that is experienced by many entrepreneurs. A lot of times it’s because of the five following thoughts that circle our brains:
- “I’m not getting anywhere.”
- “I don’t know what to do next.”
- “I don’t care anymore. Why Bother?”
- “Maybe my idea isn’t so great after all.”
- “That person is doing something similar already, and it’s way better.”
If you ever have one or more of these thoughts in your head at the same time, your big idea could ultimately be just that – an idea. Here are some helpful ways to flyswat these thoughts out of your head and get yourself back on track:
1. “I’m Not Getting Anywhere.”
You’ve put in hours of work, but it doesn’t feel like anything is getting done. Maybe things are going wrong, or you just don’t have anything to show for your efforts. Here is what you can do:
- Break it down into mini-goals: Turn your goal into a bunch of smaller goals. This gives you the satisfaction of completion after each stage. As you complete each mini-goal you know that you’re one step closer to your main objective. Think about it…how crappy would Super Mario Brothers be if you had to play the game straight through without levels. We get a lot of satisfaction after completing each stage, knowing we’re one step closer to saving the princess and beating the game.
2. “I Don’t Know What to Do Next.”
You have a vision and you know what your ultimate goal is – you just need to find a way to get there. There are a few things you can do to help you find some direction:
- Write Stuff Down: Seeing things on paper organizes the thoughts in our head. Similar to mind mapping, you can visualize your ideas and easily branch off of them to see what your next step should be. In addition you can use a checklist. Writing your steps down in chronological order and checking them off as you go is like having your own personal recipe for success.
- Research: Luckily we have tons of information available right at our fingertips. If you run into a problem, just Google it! Chances are, there is someone else in the world who has had a similar situation that has already been answered.
- Ask for Help: There’s nothing wrong with asking for advice. Just be polite and ask. I’ve personally emailed and spoke with quite a few experts regarding a number of issues, including blogging and marketing on the internet, and each response has been more than helpful.
- Again, Break it Down: You may be thinking in such a large scale that it takes away your focus from the next task. Scale down your thoughts and think in terms of smaller goals so you can easily find some direction. You wouldn’t just take a trip to Paris without knowing how to get to the airport first, would you? Here is a handy quote I like to remember:
“Cinch by the inch, hard by the yard.”
3. “I Don’t Care Anymore. Why Bother?.”
For whatever reason, you’ve lost sight of why you are working so hard. When it come’s to motivation, there are a number of ways to get it back:
- Rewind: Go back to when you first came up with your idea. Why was it so exciting to you? It had to be exciting for a reason, right? Of course! Whether it’s for the potential millions of dollars that you could earn, the freedom to spend time with your family in the future, or because your hard work is helping someone else – you should never forget the underlying reasons why you started in the first place.
- Motivation Check: When I was a trumpet player in my high school marching band (yes, I was in band..and yes I’ve been to band camp) we’d march up and down the street for hours. When we got tired or bored, the trumpet section leader would yell, “TRUMPETS! MOTIVATION CHECK!” and the rest of us would answer in unison with a saying that was previously agreed upon. Usually we yelled, “TRUMPETS RULE!” or something like that, but no matter how geeky it seems, it hyped us up and got us going again. What’s your “Motivation Check?”
- Display Your Favorite Quotes: On my wall, I have a few of my favorite motivational quotes printed and in plain sight. When I get stuck, they can be a quick and easy way to start working again. Here is my favorite:
“The Harder I Work, The Luckier I Become.” -Anonymous
- Read An Inspirational Book: Right now, I’m reading Yanik Silver’s Moonlighting on the Internet (full disclosure – I earn a commission if you buy). Darren from Problogger, who is also a great inspiration for me, is actually in this book too. The stories are great and really motivational. I read them when I’m bored, and I’m usually back on the computer in no time.
- Take A Break: It’s amazing how a short break from what you’re doing can make you more productive in the long run. I usually rearrange my fantasy football team.
4. “Maybe My Idea Isn’t So Great After All.”
It’s really easy to believe that all of the work you are doing now will ultimately be for nothing. This is the thought that seems to pop into my head more so than any of the others. It’s definitely a downer, but here’s how you can rise above the occasion.
- Think Positive Thoughts: Plain and simple. What good will come from thinking that your idea sucks? None whatsoever. After reading Michael Losier’s Law of Attraction: The Science of Attracting More of What You Want and Less of What You Don’t (full disclosure – I earn a commission if you buy), I really believe that both consciously and subconsciously, people’s thoughts dictate the reality of their lives. Think positive thoughts, and positive things will happen to you.
- “Reach the Hole”: This is a golf term I think to myself when I’m putting. If I don’t reach the hole, I don’t even give myself a chance to sink the putt. Make sense? If you sell yourself short, your idea will have no chance to succeed.
- Two words: Pet Rock.
5. “That Person is Doing Something Similar Already, and it’s Way Better.”
If you find your idea isn’t the most unique in the world and there are other’s like it in operation today, there’s absolutely no need to worry. It’s actually a great sign! That means your idea was such a good idea, that other’s are using it to make money already. There’s a market for it, and you’re about to join in on the fun.
- The Dry Cleaners: How many dry cleaning places are there in any major city? To give you a rough number, I did a quick search of San Diego dry cleaners in the yellowpages and found a total of 605. Now how could all of those dry cleaners, 605 in total, all be running a business in San Diego? The answer is because it’s a good business! If you share an idea with someone that’s successful already, it’s a good sign that if you join that market, you could be successful too.
- Make it Better: If you’re worried about why people will come and visit your website, use your services or buy your products, understand that people will come to you because you have something more to offer than your competition. Maybe it’s a certain product or bonus that only you offer. Maybe it’s the unique content in your niche blog. Maybe it’s the user experience or customer service that only you provide. If you’re exactly the same as the others, you’ll just disappear. If you offer something more or different, you’ll stand out.
I truly believe that projects and ideas are cut short not because of the actual idea, but because of these five thoughts that sometimes cross our minds. True, there can be bad ideas, but even the worst of ideas can be a success if the person behind them has the right attitude.
Ask the Reader
When you are working on a project, what kinds of things stop you? What do you do to overcome those hurdles?