Surprising Yourself with Ideas Out of Nowhere

Idea: the origin of the best and worst moments of your life. Everything we cultivate comes from a single idea. The sumptuous dinner you plan to cook tonight? That’s a yummy idea. The trip you want to take with your partner? That’s an exciting idea. The business you want to be a part of? That’s a risky idea. This article? It sprung from an idea, specifically James Altucher’s “idea machine.”

What is Idea Machine?

In a nutshell, idea machine is when you turn yourself into someone who not only thinks of an idea but actually maximizes the idea’s potential. It’s exercising the idea muscle until you can come up with the best idea for a given situation. And it’s not about mediocre ideas, but thoughts and concepts that will make other people say, “now, why didn’t I think of that!?”

Cultivating ideas is one of the premises of idea machine. When you cultivate ideas every day, you exercise your brain and stretch your imagination. When this becomes a habit, you can formulate remarkable ideas that can change your life, and to a larger extent, the lives of the people around you. You don’t have to have a master’s degree to be an idea machine. You just need to make sure that you take time to find ideas, cultivate them, and then see how they progress.

How to be an Idea Machine?

Idea machine

  • Read. Reading is a hobby that can broaden your horizon, make your world upside down, evoke emotions that you didn’t even know you have, and make you richer in vocabulary, knowledge and experience. Reading can provide you with a world full of ideas. Make it a habit to read even just a chapter of various topics daily, whatever subject you fancy as long as you get to learn something new every day.
  • List ten ideas. It doesn’t matter what subject you want, just write down ten ideas in a journal. Because there’s no limit to the subject, you can use anything and everything under the sun. You can start with simple ones like “10 new pasta ideas,” or quirky ones like “10 uses of nail polish,” or absurd ideas like “10 ways to disguise a six pack of beer.” As you progress with your ten ideas every day, you cultivate big ones, something too big of a project or something that’s almost impossible to do. Something that will make your brain sweat and that will really stretch your imagination.

Your ideas don’t have to work all the time. It doesn’t matter if they sound ridiculous or nonsensical. The goal is to exercise your idea muscles and not test each of the ideas on your list.

  • Tap your creative juices. Every single person has the ability to think of an idea that will blow everyone’s mind. Whether it’s a very good idea or a very bad idea, it doesn’t matter. Everyone can draw something extraordinary from their creative juices. It’s just a matter of tapping the right flow and nurturing it. When you make a list of your ideas, don’t expect that you’d hit the jackpot instantly. Sometimes, it takes a while before good ideas come your way. That’s fine. Don’t be discouraged if you feel like a 9-year old kid can easily come up with ideas way better than what you thought of. As long as you take advantage of your creative juices and you expound on concepts and thoughts every day, you’re already on the right track.
  • Find inspiration. Say you have a daily routine – wake up, go to work, do your work, go home, read, sleep – and have as much fun as you can have in between. If that routine works, then good for you. However, it’s still important that you shake up your routine once in a while. Instead of driving to work, why not commute and see the world from a commuter’s point of view. From your experience, you then formulate new ideas. Step outside of your comfort zone and you’ll be rewarded with varied inspirations that can produce the best ideas you’ve come up yet. You don’t have to do something drastic like skydiving or ill-advised thoughts like being AWOL from work. You can find inspiration from little things and daily activities.
  • Implement your ideas. Some ideas are easily doable, while others are too farfetched that it’ll take considerable time, effort and even luck (if you believe in such a thing) to implement the idea. But to make the most out of exercising your idea muscles is to see if your ideas are worth something. Start with little ones or ideas that are fun to do and then go from there. When an idea fails, it’ll be disappointing but it can teach you a thing or two. If an idea succeeds, it’ll be rewarding and motivating enough you’ll want to formulate new and bigger ones.

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