How to get Work Done: The Life and Death of Ideas

How to get Work Done: The Life and Death of Ideas

May 22, 2024

  Read time -  5 minutes

I recently read a great book called “Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality” by Scott Belsky. The book discusses how there are tons of great ideas out there, but only a handful of them ever get off the ground. A large part of this comes down to our minds and how they work.

Lots of things can get in the way of our ideas. Of course, wild things like “the sky falling down” or someone forcing us to stop could happen, but they usually don’t. In the real world, there are two main hurdles that often trip us up:

  1. Losing our spark
  2. Having too many ideas

Losing our Spark

Have you ever had an exciting idea and couldn’t wait to make it happen, only to lose interest after a few days or a week?

In the beginning, every idea starts with a burst of excitement that drives us to take action. You start jotting down notes, brainstorming, planning, and actually doing stuff. Before you know it, you’re making progress. That initial wave of excitement is what fuels us.

Unfortunately, this excitement doesn’t always last. As we get used to the idea, our brain stops releasing dopamine, the chemical that makes us feel good. This is a key point because why would we want to keep doing something if it doesn’t feel good? The only way to push through this is to keep going, regardless of how we feel.

The danger is when our desire to do something relies solely on the amount of dopamine in our system. Instead, we should think logically about our final goal and whether it’s worth pursuing.

Too Many Ideas

Some people are full of creative ideas, but without discipline, this creativity can be more of a hindrance than a help. Picture someone who constantly comes up with new ideas. They just keep coming and it’s impossible to switch them off. Yes, we can write them down and keep working on our current project. After all, it’s better to have many ideas than none. But consider this:

A new idea makes us happy. It gives us that burst of excitement that our old idea doesn't provide anymore. We start working on the new idea, feeling a sense of achievement, and slowly but surely, the old idea is forgotten.

Sadly, this doesn’t usually lead to success. One day, we might take a look back and realise we’ve left a bunch of unfinished ideas in our wake.

How Can We Finish What We Start?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer as it can depend on the specific situation. But if any of the issues above sound familiar, consider these solutions:

  • Remember that initial excitement can kickstart a project, but it’s not enough to sustain it long term.
  • Try to base your decisions more on logic than feelings.
  • Work hard and keep your ultimate goal in mind.
  • In a world filled with social media and the internet, it’s easy to get hooked on dopamine hits. If this sounds like you, try breaking your project into smaller parts. This way, you’ll get a sense of achievement more often.

Thomas Edison once said:

Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.

Key Takeaways

  • Initial Excitement vs Consistent Effort: While the initial excitement or inspiration can fuel the beginning phases of any idea or project, it is not a reliable long-term motivator. It’s essential to keep pushing forward and working hard, even when initial enthusiasm wanes.
  • Avoid the Trap of Too Many Ideas: Having a lot of ideas is good, but without focus and dedication to one project, you risk leaving many projects unfinished. Stick with one idea and see it through to completion before starting another.
  • Rational Judgement Over Feelings: Make decisions based on logical assessment and the end goal in mind, rather than relying purely on feelings or the fleeting rush of dopamine. This approach can help maintain progress even when motivation levels fluctuate.

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