One day, a friend called to say she was upset to learn that she needed an expensive car repair. I suggested that we go mall walking that evening. “Let’s see if we can walk ourselves into an answer,” I said. For the first twenty minutes, we walked and she talked. By that time, her stress was considerably lower.
Then an amazing thing happened. As we turned a corner, she said, “I have an idea. I’ve got those Disney World passes that I could sell on eBay.” We walked a little farther and she thought of something else she could add to her online marketing. A few days later, she’d made her sales and fixed her car.
When you feel stuck or bereft of an idea, putting yourself in motion can do wonders. Walking, driving on a familiar road, or doing household chores involves motion, but doesn’t require much mental energy. Our minds become receptive. (This is not true of playing sports where our mind is also engaged in the action.)
Soren Kierkegaard said, “I have walked myself into some of my best thoughts.” You can, too.
$100 Hour: Finish things. How about a follow-through service to complete unfinished projects? If you’re handy at repairs or household jobs, you could complete things that do-it-yourselfers never got done. Needlework is another area where enthusiasm sometimes diminishes before the work is done. Busy people frequently start more than they can finish. You could find a gold mine here—and relieve a bit of guilt.
Explore More: In her book The Creative Habit, choreographer Twyla Tharp writes, “I begin each day of my life with a ritual: I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym where I work out for two hours. The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual.”
Sometimes I think creativity is magic. It’s not a matter of finding an idea but allowing that idea to find you. ~ Maya Lin
To put your goalsetting and entrepreneurial efforts on—track and keep them there—begin by giving your year a theme. It could be a single word or a phrase that becomes your motto. Either way, it will help you gain clarity and focus. When planning your time or making a decision, a quick check will reveal if your choice adds or detracts from the theme you’ve declared.
Let’s say you’re starting a new project, one that you know little about. If you think of it as My Project Where I Am Clueless About What I’m Doing, you’ll produce very different results than if you name it My Exciting Apprenticeship in New Territory. Instead of focusing on everything you don’t know, your attention will be drawn to seek out teachers and sources of help and learning. This is a powerful shorthand technique for bringing your focus back to what your true goals are.
You’ve seen this in action plenty of times. You want to throw a party, but can’t quite figure out how to make it special. A party is just a party, after all, until you give it a theme. Then ideas start rolling. Suddenly it engages the imagination of the guests and the host. Or you decide to go to Paris and bump into an old friend who just got back from Paris; then articles on your destination seem to appear out of nowhere. Coincidence or selective awareness caused by focus?
Here are a few theme possibilities to consider:
Ease & Joy
Back to Basics
Catch the Spirit
Once you’ve got your overall theme, give individual themes to your projects. Post reminders around your home and office. I also do Treasure Maps that remind me of my themes. One of my current ones is Inspiring People in Beautiful Places. Next to my desk is a poster I’ve done with scenes from Venice, Sedona, Tuscany and the Lake District plus a photo of Valerie Young and me along with participants in Making Dreams Happen, an event we held in Boulder several years ago.
Give 2009 a theme and ideas will follow.
$100 Hour: Throw a party. If you love social events and tending to details, why not get paid for all that fun? Once a month you could organize a dinner for your busy friends for the price they’d pay in a restaurant. You could specialize in class reunions or wedding receptions. Alice Barry loves entertaining and loves inspired entrepreneurs so she turns those passions into occasional events like the Holiday Office Party for Inspired Entrepreneurs.
Explore More: Alice Barry calls herself an Idea Artisan. Anyone who’s spent time with her, knows how good she is at helping people gain clarity and plan action.You can book a session with Alice by visiting EntertainingtheIdea.com
Got your theme? Share it in the comment box, if you’d like.
Money follows ideas. Money doesn’t create anything at all, much less ideas. Money goes where ideas are. ~ Paul Hawken