BeneForza Blog

What to do if you have an idea…but you’re stuck
Funny picture of a cat stuck in a bird feeder.

Posted by: Sarah Cain - BeneForza

December 1, 2022

The required disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase. For more information, read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Here’s the scenario: you have an idea — say, for a new business, a product, or a change in your firm that would make a positive difference in the world — but you’re at a place where you’re “stuck.” Maybe it’s because the idea is in an area where you don’t have expertise, maybe it’s because the idea seems big and overwhelming, or maybe it’s because it’s a random Wednesday and your brain just isn’t cooperating. If you find yourself in this situation (haven’t we all?) here’s six things to try:

1 – Change your environment

Getting out of our normal surroundings can work wonders for getting our brain going and thinking creatively. Head to a coffeeshop, a park, a friend’s house, a bed and breakfast, even a different office space. I personally love the “buzz” of a coffeeshop — the low-level background noise helps my brain focus, and when I look up, my eye always catches something that sparks new thinking. 

2 – Let your brain wander

You know how it goes — our best ideas come to us in the shower, in the car, on the walk — not while we’re in front of a computer!  Yet that’s where we spend a big chunk of our time, especially when we’re trying to work on an idea or problem. That’s our brain working in focused “executive mode” — which is great for many things, but thinking of creative solutions isn’t one of them. What we need to do is switch our brain into “mind wandering mode,” because  THAT mode is where new connections and insights happen. So use your brain’s executive mode to define the problem that you need your brain to solve, then step away from your idea. Go on a walk, dance to some music, work on a puzzle, any activity that lets your brain wander. 

3 – Mind map the idea

It’s a tried and true tool for a reason!  Here’s how a mind map works: take a blank piece of paper and write your idea in the middle of the page, then circle it. From that circle, draw lines to branch off to different sub-ideas/components.  Keep working from there. Just get started and see where your brain takes you. Mind mapping is a fantastic way of taking a big, overwhelming idea and breaking it into manageable, bite-sized pieces you can take action on. 

4 – Talk it out with someone

Ever start explaining a problem to a friend when the solution hits you like a lightning bolt? Talking through your idea with a friend, colleague, business partner, or business coach does two things: it highlights “gaps” in your thinking while you’re explaining your thought process, and your conversation partner will ask questions that help you clarify your thinking and get a new perspective.  One thing to note: be intentional about who you recruit for this activity — when you have a big idea for something new, you want someone who is open-minded and supportive, but still willing to ask you challenging questions. 

5 – Answer THE ONE THING question

One of my absolute favorite tools for getting unstuck (especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed) is to ask the question from the book The One Thing by Gary Keller: “What one thing, such that by doing it, would make everything else easier or unnecessary?” That question has helped me — and many of my coaching clients — get unstuck more times than I can count.

6 – Just do something. Anything! 

One of the most common themes I see with entrepreneurs is getting stuck because they overthink things. Instead of trying to figure out the best next step or making something *perfect”, take an action — even if it’s small, even if you’re not sure it’s the right next step.  The goal is to get moving. Movement leads to momentum which leads to traction. Once you’re moving again, it’s easier for the *right* actions to come into focus. 

7 – Bonus Tip!

Sometimes it helps to use a framework or tool to think through an idea. If you’re in the early stages of your idea, check out our Idea Clarification Tool — it’s a great way to think through your idea and gain clarity on your next steps.

Getting stuck when you’re working through an idea is a normal part of being a visionary and entrepreneur. What separates those who are successful and make an impact on the world from those who aren’t is often just the ability to stick with it and work through those “stuck” moments. So picture this scenario — you have an idea, you get stuck, but instead of giving up, you use one of the tips above and *magically* get unstuck. Fast forward a bit…after hard work and dedication, your idea comes to life, and it starts changing the world for the better.

Too many incredible ideas fade away before they have the chance to make a positive impact — don’t let yours be one of them.

Photo by Tomas Tuma on Unsplash

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