Using the Process of Elimination in Your Life

Most people believe that if they just think hard enough, they'll discover what they want to do. Yet, the process of elimination is an act of doing, not just thinking. If we could think our way to a happier place, we would've arrived a long time ago. Here are three things you can do:

  1. Log in your journal all of the ideas for things you might like to do (ex: a career move, bucket list item or new hobby). Keep the journal for a full 30 days. Give yourself the full 30 because great ideas may come to you over time. Once the 30 days are up, put the list aside and return to it in one week. Then, draw a circle around your three favorite ideas.

  2. Write three bullet points to describe how you could attempt each of the three ideas - let's call these "action items." Could you watch an online video? Could you enroll in a course? Could you attend a group meeting or special event? (You should have three ideas now with three action items each for a total of nine possible action items).

  3. Next, circle your three favorite actions items. Grab your calendar and select a start date for each of them.

Your action items will give you more insight into your true level of interest. If you didn't thoroughly enjoy your first three steps, move down the list. If your action item intrigued you, jot down a list of ways to explore deeper. Generating lists is part of the process of ideation. Ideation is the creative process of generating new ideas. It's a natural part of any design and consists of all phases from innovation and development to actualization. The chair you're sitting on went through dozens of designs before its' plans were complete, so be self-assured that this is a good way forward.

I talk about business ideas daily. I don't intend to pursue all of my ideas, but new products and brands are one of my favorite topics on discussion. I used to want to bounce ideas off of people to see if anyone else thought my ideas had teeth. One day on a phone call, my Aunt Sandy asked, "When are you going to do all of these things?" She was perplexed. I laughed and replied that I wasn't going to do all of these things. She didn't understand that I was ideating. My aunt didn't intend to discourage me, she just didn't understand the process of ideation.

Remember: no one understands your vision because they can't see it. It's yours so you can't expect people to be as excited as you are about what you've envisioned. Develop your ideas and prototypes alone to give yourself time to assess your interests. When should you share them? Later.

Get creative and try different things. But be careful who you tell. You'll be embarking on your first step of a new adventure just by making your list.

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