Ever had an idea that won’t leave you alone? Maybe it’s something you’ve thought of in the shower once, and you filed it away, but it never really disappeared.
Problem is, it feels like you’re looking at this massive crevice. You and your idea on one side and the fully-realized version of it on the other. And a gaping void in the middle!
You know you’re going to have to build the bridge to make it to the other side. But that’s a commitment you don’t want to make willy-nilly.
How do you make a decision to proceed with your idea?
Oh, I know how that feels! I have had this idea germinating in my head for about two years. And it’s only recently that I finally reached a decision about it.
This post isn’t about the idea itself. Rather, I wanted to share the experience and the process I went through. In case you also have an idea that you want to give birth to and are wondering how you might go about it.
As I’ve mentioned above, I’ve had a seed of an idea for a while. I can’t say I was watering it or doing anything with it really. It’s just there, in my head. And every now and again, I’d stumble into a related article and file it away for further reading. Or I’d hear about someone who’s doing something similar and I’d get curious about his experience. But no conscious action was being taken. No plans were being written.
About five months ago, due to a number of inter-related experiences, I had the urge to explore this idea a bit more. I began to seek articles and books about it. I listened to a few talks and speeches about it. I even took a course about it.
The seed began to sprout. I started looking at it with different lenses. I started to ask different ‘what if’ questions. And with every input or question I asked, my interest grew.
The initial idea began to take form. It still was familiar; I could still recognize the original seed. But now, it’s grown and developed its own shape.
I didn’t want to make a blind leap. But I also didn’t want to get stuck in analysis paralysis mode.
Commitment to Decide
My interest grew to a fever pitch about a month ago. I knew I needed to decide once and for all. Yay or Nay.
My Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is INTJ. And my TJ is very strong. If you’re a TJ yourself, you’d understand how this period of indecision can be uncomfortable and distracting.
But this idea and the vision I have for it—if I were to commit to it—would be a big deal in terms of effort and time and financial commitment. It’s going to affect my other projects. And I’m probably going to have to sacrifice lots of my free time to work on it.
I didn’t want to make a blind leap. At the same time, I also didn’t want to be stuck in analysis paralysis mode.
So I decided to commit to decide. I gave myself about two weeks to make up my mind.
Exposing the Idea
During the two weeks, I not only continued my research (books, articles, anything I could find out there). This time, I got brave enough to talk about the idea with a few people.
I shared the idea with someone who’s looking to do something similar. We brainstormed. We talked about the challenges. We talked about what we knew and what we didn’t.
I shared the idea with a few people who were already climbing the same mountain. I asked them about their experiences. What’s hard. What’s easy. What they would do differently if they could have a mulligan.
And most importantly, I shared the idea with a trusted few who were likely to be skeptics. In truth, it was difficult to hear their probing questions. I couldn’t answer all of them. Some of the questions, I hadn’t even thought about! But they were necessary questions to take note because, at some point, I’d have to answer them.
I could have gone on doing more research, hashing it out some more, and seeking additional validation or arguments against it. But I chose to honor my self-imposed deadline. At the end of the designated two weeks, I evaluated what I knew and made a decision.
In reality, the decision is a bet. Considering all that I know today, I have a hypothesis, and I made a decision based on that hypothesis.
In this case, the decision is to proceed with my idea.
To help myself get comfortable with the decision, I got clear on (and wrote down) my vision and purpose. I created the equivalent of a business case for the idea.
I also put together a rough outline of my next steps (i.e., the next 3 months). I cannot conceivably know all that I’ll need to do or need to know, but the next 3-month plan is good enough for now.
• • •
Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari once said, “Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.”
Unfortunately, most ideas die shortly after the shower moment of inspiration. One of the reasons this happens is because we don’t intentionally use a process to play with the idea, thrash it out, explore possibilities, and let it take its own form.
Hopefully, the process I shared in this post gives you one possible roadmap to apply to your idea. Truth is, not all ideas are good or should be pursued. But don’t let your idea die because you didn’t even give it the light of day.