How To Know If Your Great Idea Is Worth Pursuing | UYGW056

If you are anything like me, you have a LOT of Great ideas! They flow in while you walk the dog, take your shower, and drive to the grocery store. How do we know which of these ideas are worth pursuing and which of these ideas will be a distraction from what really matters? Tune in as I share my process for choosing the best ideas and moving them forward without feeling overwhelmed.

Join me as I discuss:

·   Why you must kill your idea before you allow it to live

·   How to choose from among all your great ideas

·   Why you can’t finish anything you start (it’s not what you think)

·   How to avoid feeling like you work, and work, and work, but get nowhere

Resources Mentioned:

Check out the Great Work Community:

Get the Great Idea Map here:

Click here to get your own copy of Amanda’s book, Great Work.

About The Host:

Dr. Amanda Crowell is a cognitive psychologist, speaker, author, and coach focused on changing our perspective on the world of work. It IS possible to do Great Work—the work that calls to you from the inside– without sacrificing your health, happiness, and relationships.

Amanda is the Author of the book, Great Work: Do What Matters Most Without Sacrificing Everything Else, and the creator of the Great Work Journals. Amanda’s TEDx talk has received almost two million views and has been featured on TED’s Ideas blog and Ted Shorts. Her ideas have also been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, and Thrive Global.

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Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Welcome to unleashing your great work, a podcast about doing the work that matters the most to you. I'm your host, Dr. Amanda Crowell, a cognitive psychologist, coach, author of the book, great work and the creator of the great work journals. Every week on this podcast, we're here asking the big questions. What is your great work? How do you find it? And why does it matter? Whether we do it? What does it actually take to do more of your great work? without sacrificing everything else? And how does the world change when more people are doing more of the work that matters the most to them? Stay tuned for answers to these questions, and so much more.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Have you ever been out walking the dog or in the shower or driving mindlessly home from work and you get a great idea? Because I'm what you might call an ideas person. This happens to me at least once a day, I have fully formed ideas delivered to my brain out of nowhere on the regular. A while ago, I was out walking the dog and I got this idea for a personal development memoir style podcast called Who the hell are you? And the idea was that each episode would share a story about me, but each episode would tell a totally different story, representing the different stories I could tell about myself and who I am, while also showing that no matter what our stories are, we have options about where we can focus our identity. Full Episodes came into my mind while I was out there walking, there was even a theme song. And by the end of that walk, I had five episodes fully planned in my mind. Another time I was at the grocery store pondering just how few eggs there seem to be when I got an image of a sailboat with two sales one, which was emblematic of mindset. And the other one, which was focused on sales tactics. These are the two things that drive client creation, said my mind, I think it was maybe meant to be a social media post. But it came into my mind like a vision. Another idea that hit my brainwaves back in June, which was when my book came out, was when I realized that people who resonate with the concept of great work, need a community, we can call it the great work community. There were lots of details, weekly planning celebrations, co working sessions, access to the hive mind through a Slack channel, just in time courses, on and on the ideas when these three examples represent the kind of ideas I tend to get. And while they may not be exactly the same as yours, I bet you do have vivid and exciting ideas that blow through your brain to the question becomes then what do we do with them? Now my previous tendency was to say yes to every idea, spread myself super thin, and then find myself curled up on the bathroom floor weeping from exhaustion, that was not a good strategy. Clearly, I needed a better process to help me decide whether a great idea is truly great, or whether it's just okay. Or maybe even it's a terrible idea, disguising itself as a flash of genius. And over the course of the last seven years of being a solopreneur, with a bias towards Yes, and coaching other over giving expert entrepreneurs, I have found something that works. Let's talk about it. And then you can try it out for yourself. Now in the show notes of this episode, you can find a link to a map of this process I'm about to go through. You can grab it when you're ready, but because I know that I have not ever in my history listened to a podcast when I wasn't moving through the world, like walking the dog or driving the car, or riding the subway, just No, you don't have to look at the map to follow the episode. It's just there for your records and your review. Okay, now, step one, you have to say no to that great idea. No matter how good it is. I turn every single idea away at the door. Nope, I'm busy. It's not your time. See you later. Bye. This is an important first step and it is nothing to be afraid of. At any given time, you are already in the middle of other commitments. Those things need and deserve your time right now. You can reconsider this great idea. When it's time to set new goals. For me. I do that every 90 days. But what I don't want is for you to turn on your heel and go in an entirely new direction today. This is not how I want you to be living your life. It creates chaos and exhaustion. Now take the great work community when it popped into my brain fully formed. I was in the middle of a book launch. Now part of me argued forcefully that a community would only support the launch. My brain has a tendency to believe that now is all Ways the right time. And when I say no, it gets really upset, why don't you want us to succeed Amanda, but I am 45 now and a grown up and I am on to my brains tricks. The wiser part of me now realizes that diversifying my work at that moment, would have diluted the book launch and utterly exhausts me at a time that was already really emotional. I mean, a book birthday is vulnerable, it feels a little bit like sending your baby off to kindergarten. The last thing I needed was to add another vulnerable things to the mix, in this case, the launch of a membership community. So I killed it. I recommend that you say no to every great idea that occurs to you. Even if you know in your heart that you will eventually say yes, it is critical that you first say no, this assertive boss, Lady power puts you in control of your projects. So if and when you do take on a new project, it has a real chance to succeed. More importantly, though, the truth is that when you are in the throes of receiving an idea, you really can't tell if it's a good idea, let alone if it's your next great idea. Everything sounds amazing when it's new. But I can tell you from experience that most of these ideas are either totally off topic, utterly irrelevant, or painfully half baked. Sometimes, they're really bad. But you can't see that right away. Which is why you must give your idea the chance to die. I found that the surest way to discover whether an idea has the staying power it needs to go the distance is to kill it off. If the idea was just passing by on its way to its real owner, it will just shrug and it will vacate the premises. And lovely though it surely was good riddance. We don't have time for ideas with no staying power. Take that podcast idea I had, who the hell are you? I was so sure that this idea had legs. It already had a jingle for God's sake. But as soon as I said no to it, it just evaporated. I hadn't really thought about it again, until I was trying to come up with examples of ideas that didn't fly for this very episode. It wasn't that it was a bad idea. I enjoyed its visit. It just wasn't a great idea for me to act on in any significant way. Right now. This is truly the most common scenario, a great idea pops in, gets us excited and slides right back out. And if you don't give it a chance to die to leave, you will find yourself stuck trying to force through a bunch of half baked unenthusiastic ideas. Or, and this is way worse, you might sit around shaming yourself because you feel like you can't finish anything. But it turns out that those ideas you didn't finish weren't meant to be finished by you. So step one, kill your great idea. Be cold hearted and relentless. I no longer ever given ideal life on its first appearance because I have been burned too many times by bad ideas, clogging up my to do list. And if your idea is truly a great idea, it won't stay dead. It will keep showing up flitting across your brain adding new details and connections. And if it's a great idea, it will grow in energy. So step two, we watch what happens to your idea, does it grow? Does it feel even more captivating on the third approach than it did when you first got the idea? If the answer to these questions is yes, then it might be worth considering whether this is your next great idea. And let me just tell you, when an idea is a great idea, it will not leave you alone. This is what happened with the great work community. At first, the idea was just a co working community. Everyone I know is eating lunch alone and feeling overwhelmed by their to do list. Live gatherings around lunchtime where we share our intentions get some light touch coaching, and get some of it done together would be awesome. It really would. I agreed. But I killed it. Not Now I said then the great work journals joined the cause. You see, I thought that using the great work journals would be easy for people. It's the exact method I use to do everything while keeping the lid on my perfectionism and my overwhelming my burnout. And people who are using the journal, either because it naturally fit their way of thinking about work or because they're clients of mine and we've worked through setting their goals. They tell me that it has changed their life. I know it works. But I also know that people stall out in a few predictable places. Specifically, people want the chance to talk about their 90 Day goals before they commit to them. When they have the chance to do that. They are unleashed on their great work in the best way. And people need a structure Good place to do that.

Dr. Amanda Crowell:

Why not do it in the great work community? Yes. Like Carrie Fisher. And When Harry Met Sally, I have to say, you're right, you're right. I know you're right. We could do weekly planning sessions, where people wherever they are, whether they're setting up their goals, their week, where their days can get that kind of support. I was starting to warm to the idea, but it wasn't time yet. And then, honestly, the world we live in, there's a pandemic and the economy and gosh, everything is so complicated. We need a place to celebrate our wins, to recover from disappointment and frustration and feel like we're part of something great, not just on our own, but together. This is the one that finally won me over. Yes, we need weekly celebrations, I need weekly celebrations. And I want to be surrounded by other people who believe and are willing to strive towards a better world and a better life for themselves. And I'm the only one who needs this. As I started talking about this idea, this part of it in particular, the reactions from my clients, and the people I was talking to were big and powerful. Yes. People said, we need this. Okay. I said to my idea, finally, yes. Okay. Let's do it. When an idea grows like this, it's time to figure out what kind of an idea it is. And then identify the goal. This is step three, so we killed it. We watched it. And if it has grown in enthusiasm, now we need to evaluate the idea to figure out what kind of idea it is. So what do I mean by what kind of idea? Well, as your ideas flow in, you've likely noticed that they vary quite a lot. Even in the examples I've used in this episode, some were smaller, like the social media posts about the boat, and some were larger, like the great work community. I mean, these are clearly not the same kind of ideas, right? In my book, I categorize ideas into five different levels, visualized as an upside down triangle. Now, this is where it helps to have that map that you can get in the show notes. But if you have it, take a look. But if you're driving, do not take a look, I will describe it. Okay, so we have this upside down triangle. At the top, the widest part, the level one is a catalyzing vision. This is the vision that you hope to achieve someday. My current catalyzing vision is to be a catalyst for more people doing more of their great work, because I do truly believe that that is what's going to change the world and make it a better place to be. Now level two is the accessible aspiration, you can tell that the catalyzing vision is like pie in the sky some day gets me excited, stirs up my emotions, but like, there's not really a way to kind of chip away at that, right? It's like, over there some day on my way. I don't know how but somehow, right. And accessible aspiration starts to get into what I can do and a timeframe I can understand. So an accessible aspiration is something that is doable, but it's an it's aspirational, so you can achieve it, but it'll probably take a year or two. Once you kind of know your accessible aspiration, which in the case of the great work community would be something like, I want to have, you know, 300 people in the great work community and a lot of like, small coaching groups, and maybe like a retreat, that's something that it will take a couple of years to get to. The third level is the 90 day goal. These are your most active commitments. And you know, they will take weeks but not yours. And then weekly tasks, which is something that moves you closer to your goal this week. And then the teeny tiny point of the upside down triangle is the to do which isn't overwhelming and can be done today. Okay, so to understand the idea we have, and what it would really mean to take it on, we need to place it inside this model. The bigger the idea, the bigger the commitment. But don't let that make you think that smaller ideas, it's totally fine to do these sort of off ad hoc off topic things. If your weekly tasks and even your daily to dues aren't aligned with your bigger goals and aspirations and vision, you will feel like you work all the time. But nowhere. This is something that we want to avoid the vast majority of things we do, whether they're goals, tasks or to dues need to be aligned with where we are trying to go. They need to be as light as aligned as possible with our great work. It was that kind of lack of alignment actually that killed the WHO THE HELL ARE YOU podcast? So let's just name that launching a new podcast for me because I already have a podcast is a 90 day goal. My first podcast this one started as an accessible aspiration. It took me about a year to get it off the ground because I did not know what I was doing. But if I was gonna launch another one, which I am not, I could do it in about 90 days. In the great work method, you get Three goals every 90 days. And the question becomes, is this new podcast really where I want to put my time to find out, I have to check the alignment does having a personal memoir style podcast helped me get closer to my aspiration, or my vision? Well, my vision, as I mentioned, is to be a catalyst for more people doing more great work. In particular, I really want experts who want to leverage their expertise to make the world better, to get the support, they need to put their great work out there. I know that the great word method can help them. And so that's where my focus needs to be. And while this, who the hell are you podcast is such a cool idea, you would also be a distraction. The great work community, on the other hand, is very aligned. So first off, I have to realize that fully launching the great work community, as I envision it with hundreds of people, lots of courses, and an impersonal retreat, all of that is an accessible aspiration, it's going to take a while to get all the pieces in place. And that's okay. In fact, I know that the worst thing we can do is to put a fully formed untested product out to market, I would never do that. So instead, in this round of goals, I'm recruiting my founding members, I'm going to get the core services off the ground, because that's what I can do in 90 days. And so that's what I set as my stretch goal for the first quarter of 2023. Launch the founding membership, I chose my core services, pick February 10, as our launch event, and dove into the flow of getting the launch set up. Once you have a goal, this is where the rubber hits the road, we have to move out of thinking about our goals, thinking about what we'd like to do thinking about our vision, hoping for our aspirations, and move into step four, where you move that idea forward every week, and every day. Because great word happens in the choices we make every week. And every day. And as much as possible. We want to make choices that allow for drama free action. And by that I mean actions that never overwhelm you, even as they stretch you. So for example, in the first week of January this year, I set the task to create the sales page for the great work community. Anyone who has ever created a sales page will quickly tell you that they can overwhelm you. That's why the sales page was given a whole week and not a day. I knew it was going to take a few connected work sessions. But I also knew from experience that I could do it in about a week. While the weekly tasks can make you nervous, I really want the daily to do to feel doable. It might involve hard work, that's totally fine. But if it's making you freeze or avoidant, you need to make your daily to do easier. As an example, for whatever reason, the WooCommerce integration with my sales page WooCommerce is the cart function that Thrive Themes, which is how I build my website, they recommend WooCommerce for subscription style payments. And for whatever reason, it was so hard for me to figure out, I came at it every which way I was watching knowledge base videos, reading blogs, Google rabbit hole BASE jumping, and I felt myself getting pretty worked up. When I found myself approaching overwhelm. However, I decided to hire someone on Fiverr and hand that that piece of the project off to them. And then ask them to show me what to do next time. That felt doable. So that's what I did. And it worked. I found a great guy on Fiverr. Just a lovely easy to talk to technical wizard. And I'm going to link to his Fiverr page because he was that good. Anyway, he did it. And it was done. And actually, that's exactly the kind of support I'm offering the great work community and our daily co working hours you can come and tell me what you are up to. And I will ask that's small enough. Does that feel doable to you? Is there an easier starting point. And I will help to calm your worries that you aren't doing enough and will talk you down if you feel like giving up. And honestly that's the kind of stuff that changes your life. Because that's the truth about great work. It is entirely about progress. If you choose your ideas wisely, and then move them forward in a systematic and regular way you can do anything. And if you want company coaching, co working and accountability. I would love for you to check out the great work community. Your great work is important. Why do it alone.


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