4 Truths About Those Ideas You Don’t Act On

Do you have half-full notebooks or Google docs full of ideas gathering dust? Don’t be discouraged: not every idea is meant to be acted on. Brainstorming is valuable, whether or not you end up acting on all of the ideas, because creativity begets creativity. The more ideas you come up with, the better chance you’ll land on one (or more) that will work for you! 

It can be hard to determine which ideas to act on and which to leave for someone else. Here are a few reasons it’s okay to leave an idea alone.

Three reasons you shouldn’t act on an idea:

ONE // The idea requires more than you have to give right now. Knowing your capacity will help prevent you from getting overwhelmed. If you love an idea, but the thought of all the work it will take to make it happen fills you with a sense of dread instead of a feeling of anticipation—pay attention. This might be a sign that you are close to the limits of the capacity you have to give right now.

TWO // You’ve had an even better idea! It might be a brilliant idea: that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the idea for you. If you’ve thought of something incredible, but you know that it doesn’t fit your skill set, it’s okay to let that idea go—or to pass it on to someone else who does have the needed skill set.

THREE // Some ideas need a long time to germinate. A seed of an idea planted now may need time to grow before it’s time for you to act on it. If an idea isn’t right for this moment, that doesn’t mean it won’t come back to you later, at a better time. Allow space to see what takes root and what blows away on the wind.


And, one reason you should act on an idea:

Don’t let fear hold you back. Sometimes we have THE idea and we know it—but we are too paralyzed by fear to move forward. Ask yourself what’s holding you back. Be brutally honest: journal or mind-map the details of your idea and write down all your fears. Then talk yourself through them—and run with your big idea! 


Before you toss your ideas aside, ask yourself these four questions:

  • Do I have the capacity?
  • Is this my skill set?
  • Does this idea need time to grow?
  • Is fear holding me back? 

Your answers will help you determine which ideas to let go of and which to move forward with.

And when you are feeling stuck and looking for a new idea? Flip back through those notebooks and scroll through those Google docs—maybe you’ll stumble back across an idea that wasn’t right then, but is perfect right now.

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