This guest post was written by Glen Allsopp, the author of PluginID.
About a year ago, I feared I would struggle to build an audience for my new personal development website. My fear was solely based on the fact that I had just turned 19. I simply assumed most people would question my age, and thus, my advice. After all, I haven’t lived as long as many of you who are reading this right now.
I did, however, manage to break my own limiting beliefs by sharing quality information and using my fresh personal experiences to my advantage. Just last week a friend from the speakers club I go to came up to me and said, “I love your website, but how do you do it? Where do you get all of your insight from? I’m 40 and I haven’t even come to some of these realizations yet.”
At the time, I had to give a quick answer and it probably wasn’t the best advice. However, now that I’ve had more time to think about it, there are certain principles I follow that have allowed me to generate loads of new ideas and insights in a relatively short timeframe. I’ve come to realize that ideas don’t tend to just ‘come’ to me, but instead there are clear-cut actions I take to produce them.
For a little boost of creativity and insight, follow these 5 steps.
Think Before You Sleep
Although you may not be aware of it it, even when you’re sleeping your brain continues to process and evaluate your ideas and thoughts. Throughout history, famous figures like Napoleon have stated that they focus on their problems just before they sleep, and tend to have an answer when they wake up.
As soon as I read about this, I instantly remembered how many times I had solved an issue of mine just minutes after waking up. The stresses of our daily routine can sometimes get in the way of our creativity, but if we focus on our thoughts, ideas, and insights minutes before bedtime, our subconscious mind will ponder it all while we rest.
Don’t Let Your Beliefs Limit You
I thoroughly believe that at times we stall on executing excellent ideas and solutions simply because we think they are too obvious or too easy. We think about it too much and convince ourselves that it’s silly or not worth it. At other times we doubt the fact that we are even capable of coming up with good ideas nobody else has thought of yet.
If you let your beliefs limit you, like I almost did by telling myself that I was too young, then these beliefs will always hold you back. Realize that you are a unique person with the ability to create and conjure ideas that no human has had before you.
Read Relevant Books
Truth be told, I’ve never been a big reader… at least not until the last year or so. In the last 12 months I’ve probably read more books than I did during the previous 18 years of my life. So it’s no coincidence that I’m now coming up with more practical insights than I had in the past.
It’s been said that you can become very knowledgeable about something just by reading 3 quality books on the subject. Of course, it also helps if you concentrate on reading books that pertain to subjects you have an interest in. If you enjoy personal development, then two books I highly recommend are Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
Remember, humans have been around for thousands of years. There’s lots of excellent information out there to digest.
Take and Review Notes
I think this is the most important habit of all. Think of a book or great article that you read in the last year. My guess is that you can remember some of the key points, but you’ve probably also completely forgotten numerous pages of useful information. Whenever I read a quality book, I either take notes at the time or go back through it and highlight my favorite points. I then review these points regularly until I have them ingrained in my mind.
This doesn’t apply to reading only. You’ll probably find that some of your best ideas come when you are doing something completely unrelated to the idea itself. In such cases, it’s wise to carry a small notebook or smart phone around with you so you can record your ideas on the go.
My Google Docs account is literally flooded with high quality notes from a number of my favorite authors and my own personal experiences. I tend to look through these notes when I need inspiration or just to refresh my memory.
Maintain an Open Mind to New Information
If you adopt the position that you know everything about a subject then you’ll obviously never come up with any new insights about it. Additionally, if you are too shortsighted to see that some of your current beliefs may be mistaken, then you are completely inhibiting your peronal growth potential.
Instead, be open-minded and realize that there will always be more for you to learn. Of course, you don’t have to accept every new piece of information that comes your way, but at least evaluate it properly before discarding it.
I believe everyone, regardless of age or background, can come up with new ideas and excellent insights. You just need to know how to harness them.
Glen Allsopp writes for a blog called PluginID on the subject of personal development. He also teaches people how they can be who they want to be through personality development.
Photo by: Stephen Poff
Ray Vermey says
for a young man like you you write great articles!
Thanks for teaching a 45 year old some new things! 🙂
Cody Dream-Life-Coaching says
I love the think before you sleep advice, I find life so much easier if I take 20 or 30 minutes before sleep and just spend that in silence. It just help me compose myself and probably a lot of other stuff to on a sub conscious level that I don’ understand. it certainly makes a difference.
Baker @ ManVsDebt says
I really connected with this article!
I need to do a much better job of “note-taking”, especially when reading new material. My mind often wonders into some really neat territory, but I struggle to step away and capture that moment.
Thanks for the thought-provoking article!
mark harrison says
I find the best way is to clear your mind. I always write down what I need to do for the next day on a pad next to my bed as it clears my mind for sleep. I find that if my mind is full of ‘problem garbage’ as I call it, I can’t see a way ahead, I don’t sleep and I fall behind.
Reading voraciously definitely helps us to gain new ideas. We also need to write down our ideas immediately before we forget all about it. I use a small notebook for that and the ideas in the notebook is growing faster than the rate I am writing out my articles. Thanks for sharing this great article with us.
This resonated with me — I started blogging when I was 22, and also thought, “Will people really want to hear it from me?” Well, I’m only 23 now, but so far the blog’s been going quite well :).
I practice a lot of what you’ve described in this article, but note-taking is something I’ve really slacked off in. Attribute it to notes-overload in university, I suppose… either way, it’s something I’m working on improving for the very reasons you’ve given. Thanks for this article!
Stephen - Rat Race Trap says
Glen, this is great advice. I read all the time and I can tell you most of what I know came from reading. It doesn’t mean I didn’t live it too. I had to try it out, but the sparks of the ideas often came from reading books.
I’ve also just begun to takes notes. For most of my life I did not and I really regret it. When I’m on the go I use the voice recorder on my phone. Thanks. Great stuff!
@ Cody and Mark:
There are certainly two sides to the argument for consciously thinking and soul searching before bedtime. Some people say it interferes with their sleep. Others claim that some of their greatest ideas (and epiphanies) came to them the morning after they fell asleep on a particular thought.
As for me, I’m a thinker before bedtime. I find the quiet stillness just before I fall asleep to be a perfect time to ponder my day, my tomorrow, and the ideas and thoughts that drive my life.
Your best bet is to give it a try. See if works for you.
@Glen: Thanks for the great guest article. 😉
Glen Allsopp says
@ray – Thanks I really appreciate that
@Baker – Thanks man. I used to have a notepad next to my bed (I only read when I’m trying to sleep) and when I come across a cool idea / concept then I always quickly write it down.
@zoe – I’m glad you could relate!
Thanks to everyone else, and thanks again Marc for the opportunity
Eric Hamm | Motivate Thyself says
Generating new ideas can be a daunting task. This post has some great insight to light the fire inside you and encourage the breakthroughs you’ve been looking for.
Anja Merret says
Nice tips for coming up with new ideas.
Positively Present says
These are great steps! 🙂 I really enjoyed reading them and I think this is a post I will come back to over and over again.
Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills says
One of the things I appreciate most about this article is mentioned in the title. It’s PRACTICAL, and that means it’s also actionable. Whenever we take in knowledge we need to know what to do with it, practical fills the bill. Thanks for the link love, and the good pointers.
Karl Staib - Work Happy Now says
I loved the book Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. It’s amazing how we can train ourselves to enjoy the life we created with a little hard work.
When I try to come up with new ideas I don’t just expect them to come, I have to work at it.
There are times I limit my beliefs. I have to remind myself that anything is possible if I relax and let the thought flow.
Mike King says
Great Article Glen and good to see your article here as well! I love the breakdown of each area for insight and can relate to many of them. Love the points of sleeping and reading, those seem to have impacted me the most as well. Creativity is something you must want and practice, and if you do, it’s easy to keep it active in your life!
Laurie | Express Yourself to Success says
Thinking before you sleep is great advice. I’ve started doing that recently and it really does make a difference. It works so well that I’ve learned to keep a notepad beside my bed so when I wake up in the middle of the night I can jot down an idea that popped into my mind. Now I have to work on making my handwriting legible while half asleep so I can read what I write!
This was very timely for me… thanks much.
Jake | Revive Your Life says
You make some great points in this post. Reading new information has really helped me develop over the last year or so. In addition, I agree that keeping an open mind allows me to think more critically and creatively. You are wise beyond your years!
When I had something important to learn for exams, I used to think of it before I slept and it really worked. I’m definitely going to try the asking questions thing! These are some great tips, and I am always trying things like this as a way of learning as much as I can. Getting into a routine of reading, writing, communicating etc. has also really helped.
Tess The Bold Life says
Some new age thinker told me to sleep with my Statistics book under my pillow before an exam. I actually did it once.
I aced the test but don’t think it had anything to do with it.
Tim (360 Degree Self) says
Great post! As someone who loves generating ideas, it was good to read your suggestions. I have a few of my own that I use, but I will have to incorporate your “think before you sleep” idea.
Also, I just turned 40 and one of my favorite blogs is from the Nametag guy (Hello My Name is Scott), who is in his late 20’s. He has written several books and I cannot tell you how much I have learned from him and how much I admire what he does. Check him out, I’m sure you can really identify with him. If there is any wisdom I can impart to you is…do not underestimate yourself because of your age.
Ian | Quantum Learning says
I’m a voracious note taker myself but I confess I rarely review them. When I do I find I had some great ideas! Thanks for the reminder … I’m now determined to put those piles of past notes to good use!
I’m thoroughly impressed by this article and really enjoy reading the rest of your blog. Congrats on going for it and putting such profound content out there each week.
John - Zen-Moments says
Great ideas, genius, and the powerful actions that enable them, punctuate any age. The power of maturity through experience, is in the ability to connect the dots.
There is a lot of insightful wisdom in these words. I think a huge key is to keep an optimistic outlook, part of what I view as keeping an open mind.
As soon as you think you’re defeated (or going to be defeated) you’re already there.
Nicely written post.
J.Chu | SuccessRevolution.com says
Great and simple advice you have…
I am new in blogging, and having a small note for ideas pop-up is what I need most.
Ideas can come anytime, anywhere and the most important thing we need to prepare a small note to write them down otherwise we may forget.
Tammy Brackett says
GLEN! Excellent post about generating new ideas. I really especially love the idea about solving problems as we sleep. Dreams offer a clear channel to the universe as it’s the only time our circuits are jammed with daily stuff!
Mary Shelley DREAMED Frankenstein.
Mark Twain prayed for dreams that contained stories to make income!
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”- Mark Twain.
Great post. I am currently 21, and have wanted to start a blog for quite a while. Unfortunately, I have also fallen in to the trap of “who would want to listen to what I have to say.” So, thanks for just going ahead and doing it. Great inspiration for me.
Glen Allsopp says
Great quote Tammy, thanks for sharing.
To everyone else, thanks a lot for your comments, nice to see so many of them on the post! I’m really glad you all enjoyed the article and could relate to the need for new insights in your life!
Glen, thanks a lot for this wonderful article. I too make notes of some interesting ideas that cross my mind.
I totally agree with the idea of thinking before sleeping, it worked for me few times!
Great job. Very concise.
Daramola philip says
Great work Marc and angel. Your capacity has brought limelight into my heart condemning negative thinking.