What To Do When All Your Ideas Are Rubbish

Can I let you into a secret? The vast majority of your ideas won’t work out.

For every task in your day, there are hundreds of ways of going about it. Many of them won’t bring the desired result, and some of them will probably make life harder for yourself rather than easier. A fulfilling life is a chemistry lesson of experimental choices – we stick with the stuff that finally works and learn from the stuff that inevitably doesn’t.

Every now and again, an idea comes to fruition, and our faith in the process is renewed. You don’t mind spending your energy thinking through the bad ideas, and maybe even trying a few of them, if it means that your Eureka moment is that bit nearer. Our evolution is predicated on solving problems in ways that have never been done before, but this is very rarely done at the first attempt.

There is a lot of crumpled-up paper in the evolutionary rubbish bin.

However, every now and again, we come up against a problem that we can’t seem to solve. No matter how many ideas we have or how many approaches we attempt, we always seem to end up right back where we started. A mental block starts to form and all of a sudden it seems futile. There is a mountain of crumpled-up ideas, and we don’t think that we’ll ever make the breakthrough. Creativity comes to a standstill.

However, that standstill won’t last forever.

It is a mathematical impossibility that none of your ideas will work. You need to give it time, and it is here where the real issue lies. One of your final ideas might well have worked out, but because you are so exhausted after your previous efforts, you give in too easily at the final hurdle.

When it seems that all your ideas are rubbish, don’t put yourself under even more pressure, just give yourself a little bit more time. If your goal is important to you, I truly believe that you will get there in the end. It might take months or even years, but the power of the right idea will come through.

As more of us live more creative and entrepreneurial lives, we have to get ready to let the bad ideas run their course on the way to the good ones. It goes without saying that you have to change something every time a bad idea doesn’t work, but it is only with time that the way forward will emerge.

I suppose that it all comes down to belief. Perseverance is one of the most valuable habits to practice, but the fuel for this perseverance is the knowledge that you have every chance of getting there in the end. You have done it before, and you’ll do it again. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, you are going to stick with it. You keep the creativity flowing, no matter how useless the intermediate outcomes.

So, when all your ideas are rubbish, don’t sweat it, go get a coffee, maybe do something else for a little while. Give your ideas just a bit more time to percolate.


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