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How to escape the ideas trap

When I first start working with a coaching client, especially those who are looking for help to shape and step into their personal (or, indeed, business) vision, I'm always amazed by the tidal wave of ideas that they bring to the table. Ideas that inspire and excite them.

But, too often, those ideas are accompanied by tales of how inspiration soon turned to disillusionment, and excitement became frustration, because, in spite of the tidal wave of ideas bursting out of them, they found themselves getting no closer to seeing their vision or goal become a reality.

I understand the frustration, and the disillusionment. I've even felt both, on occasion. But I also understand that there's a reason that tidal wave of ideas isn't bringing results. You see, as exciting and inspiring as they are, ideas are just exactly that: ideas. 

The topic of ideas came up in a conversation that I had recently with a friend of many years - a successful entrepreneur who knew exactly what it is to experience that tidal wave. In that conversation I asked my friend how he'd managed to build the confidence and conviction to step out of where he was - right before he became a successful entrepreneur and all he had was that tidal wave of ideas - and not just pursue his dream, but actually start to turn it into a living, breathing reality.

The answer he gave me was beautifully simple: "I decided, and I did it". "In fact", he went on, "these days it's kind of become something of a mantra I live by - 'decide, and do' - and it's never let me down yet."

Decide and do. I love that.

I love it because it quite brilliantly captures a simple truth: for your dream to become a reality, there comes a point when you have to actually do something.


But, sometimes, as simple as it sounds, to 'decide and do' can be really difficult. After all, when you have so many ideas, where do you start? Well, ultimately you have to do what works for you, but let me suggest a process that may help to get you up and running.

First, declare an ideas embargo.

Ideas can quickly become an industry in themselves. Those initial ideas - the ones that inspire and excite you - breed and take on a life of their own. Before you know it, you are surrounded by ideas for things you could do, should do and must do. Pretty soon, the only thing you are creating is more ideas, and your journey towards realising your goal or your vision is going nowhere.

So, before you reach that point, declare an ideas embargo. Refuse to entertain any more ideas until you've worked through what you've already got. Don't panic, the embargo is only temporary - you are eventually going to need more ideas - but it buys you space and time within which you can actually do something.

Next, filter the ideas.

Within the safety of your ideas embargo, work your way into the pool of ideas you already have. Root out the bad ideas - the ones that take you away from that place where your goal or vision is a reality - and bin them. Leave the crazy ideas - the ones that may just work but you can't be sure - to one side, and put them on a shelf marked 'keep safe until later'.

Then, when all you're left with is the good ideas - the ones that lead you towards that place where your goal or vision is a reality - you have the foundation for creating a plan that will guide you to where you want to go.

Then, it's time to make a plan.

You may have your good (and crazy) ideas neatly identified, but ideas that don't lead to activity are pointless, even useless. To make your ideas useful, you must do something - you must take action

But that action needs to have clear direction and purpose, so you need a plan.

Look at where you are, and where you want to go. Then feed in those good ideas, so that you can begin to see what needs to be done to turn them from idea to reality, and move you towards your destination.

Now, actually do what needs to be done, and put those ideas to work.

The reality is that most people maintain their momentum when they see something happening - something tangible, rather than something that is just an idea. So, to bring your goal or vision to life, you need results, not just ideas. And you achieve those results through taking the action identified in your plan.

Take each idea in your plan, analyse it and map out the action you need to take to make it a tangible reality. And then get to work. Decide what you are going to do, and do it. It really is that simple.

Ideas are vital to your success. They are the source of creativity and innovation. They are the magic that will inspire you and excite you. They flow out of your dreams and make you believe. But never forget that, without action - without a commitment to 'decide and do' - ideas are, and will only ever be, just ideas.

If you want to have a conversation about how you can take your ideas and shape them into achievable goals and a deliverable plan, why not book a free exploration call? Just visit to schedule a time.

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