3 Steps to Making Ideas Happen

Think of an idea. Think of an idea you’ve had for a while. Think of an idea you really wish you had time for. Right, now lets make that idea happen.

Step 1 - Share It

Sharing your idea, not like sharing on Facebook or Twitter, but you know, with a real person in a real live conversation is one of the best ways to make your idea happen, because you’re then forced to do two things and you win a third as a result.

The first is you’re forced to articulate the idea in a way that has to make sense to another person. This might sound simple enough but you’ll only know if you’ve managed it by doing it. If they look back at you with blank stares and bewildered looks you’ve got some explaining to do. This will be a good thing because it will draw you into a feedback loop wherein you will improve not only the idea but also how you communicate it. (As presumably, you may well need other peoples help to make it happen and bringing them onboard will be key to making it happen.)

The second thing you’re forced to do is speak it out. Which means you actually have to believe in it and think it’s worth sharing. This is a good thing because if you’re going to put any time and effort into it (both of which are precious commodities) you need to be sifting the wheat from the chaff. If it’s a great idea and people are ready and willing to get onboard, all that self-doubt and mental-merry-go-round thinking that’s kept you procrastinating will evaporate.

Ideas will only get better by sharing, so share them often.

Thirdly what you’ve won is accountability. By telling someone you’ve got this great idea and you’re hoping to make it happen you’ve wandered into the world of public accountability. Telling your friend you’ll meet them for a jog tomorrow morning means you’ve got to show up. Sharing helps you overcome your lack of self-discipline and ‘’I’ll get round to it later’’ timescales.

Step 2 - Pierce It

My friend Jeremy has a philosophy about making ideas happen which is that you have to pierce the space in which you want to get into and then the rest will follow. You make the first incisive move and then the invisible mental barriers to entry are removed. It might not be the full realization of your vision but it’s a first step. What do I mean?

When my director friend Jeremy originally ran his production company from home, we quickly outgrew the space available. Sticking his head into the attic one day, he pondered a loud: “Maybe we can turn this into an office.” Now with a thought like that, to actually do much about it, can quickly be stopped in its tracks. You’ve got to move junk out, put in some decent lighting, move in a desk and chair, maybe insulate the space, put down carpet, add windows etc etc etc.

What was the piercing step? Jeremy thrust up a chair and a bit of wood, set it over two suitcases and sat down to work with his laptop. Now he was working from ‘the new office.’ Over time, the rest followed. Junk was moved out, desks and chairs moved in. It’s slowly still evolving as a home office but point is the barriers around the idea and experiencing the seed of what it could be were broken down before they could lay hold too much of a mental foundation, leading to procrastination and inertia.

Pick that first simple step, the more impulsive and committed the better.

Step 3 - Plan It

Now all good ideas probably do require a fair bit of planning, but as plans are laid they often start to gain an unhealthy amount of bloat. Vision and imagination are fundamental to being inspired to make an idea happen, but actually making it happen comes down to simple activity.

So plan it with this question as the only rule:

What would it take to do it in a day?

You might have a giant idea, that would normally take weeks, months maybe even years. But force yourself to imagine what it would take to get it, or something close to it, done in day. What choices would that force you to make? What features would have to be stripped out. Did you need them anyway?

As Steve Jobs reportedly quipped: Real artists ship.

Real artists are the ones who actually produce something. Getting your idea started, by thinking about how you would have to do it with more constraints rather than less will ground your imagination in practical reality, forcing a deadline and simplifying the complex into achievable steps.

Thanks to a real artist who shipped (graphic designer Andrew Power) you can download this artful reminder for your desktop, iPhone and other assorted electronic devices.

Real Artists Ship

If you want more on making ideas happen Scott Belsky, founder of The 99% and Behance Network, has written an amazing book that any and every creative person should read called Making Ideas Happen. He’s studied the habits, patterns, success and failures of incredibly creative and productive people the world over and drawn out loads of useful insights that will help you make more of your great ideas, actually happen.