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How to Harness Your Ideas to Reach Your Goals

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Key Takeaways

How to harness your ideas to reach your goals. Do you have more ideas than you can handle? Do the ideas get garbled with all of the other 'to do' list tasks? Sometimes it feels overwhelming and like you'll never reach your goals. This show will help you harness your ideas so you know what's important (and what's not) so you'll be able to reach your goals.

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Jen McFarland CEO Women Conquer Business Portland OR

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Transcript: How to Harness Your Ideas to Reach Your Goals

Hello and welcome to Women Conquer Business. I'm your host, Jen McFarland. On this week's show, we talk about harnessing all of those great ideas that you have so that you can reach your goals. If you ever feel overrun with ideas, and you don't know which one to pick, this show is for you.

Show Intro

[music] Welcome to Women Conquer Business. My name is Jen McFarland. This podcast is for smart, serious business owners, tired of the senseless chatter about growing a business. If you don't want to hear anymore get-rich-quick, too-good-to-be-true nonsense, you've come to the right place. You'll learn why mindset is everything, as well as strategies for sustainable business growth and how to implement it, along with the secrets I learned leading large-scale business projects that also apply to 5- and 6-figure businesses. Are you ready? Let's go forth and conquer.

Listener Thank You

[music] Before we get started, I wanted to share with you a review I recently received from somebody who goes by Krismaspeak. It says, "Smart, honest, refreshing. I love this show. Jen's style is conversational, but she's teaching listeners the whole time. Great interviews and I really dig her solo shows. This is a must-listen for [biz ladies?]. Thank you, Jen." Thank you, Krismaspeak. 

Krismaspeak Women Conquer Business Podcast review


I hope you're still out there and listening. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this great review, and I hope that I am continuing to serve you and help you build your business every step of the way. I also wanted to thank all of you who have been listening, whether it's since the beginning or you came along fairly recently. This show wouldn't exist without you, without your experiences, without the stories that you tell and that I, myself, experienced in the business world. Thank you, and I will continue to show up for you and do the best that I can. Let's get started.

I Have a Confession to Make: I'm Overrun with Ideas

Okay. I have a confession to make. I think that I am one of these people who have more ideas than they can handle. One of the reasons that sometimes I start talking entirely too quickly is that my brain is just popping with idea after idea, and my brain is way ahead of anything that I could be saying, and it just keeps going and going. And I think an indicator for me that I have way too many ideas and way too many things cluttering my brain, is when I look up-- actually, kind of like now [laughter], and I have way too many tabs open in my browser, and that is an indication that I probably have way too many tabs open in my brain.

So if you are one of these people who, like me, has a billion tabs open all the time and you find yourself hopping from thing to thing to thing and maybe you have thousands of ideas a day and only time to go through and maybe follow through on two or three, one of the things that's really important, so that you can harness those ideas and reach your goals, is to give those ideas space and allow yourself to decide [laughter] what the good ideas are and what the bad ideas are.

Everyone Has Bad Ideas ... And Good Ones Too

And everybody comes up with bad ideas. Everybody has a lot of bad ideas. I would say I probably have way, way, way more bad ideas than I have good ideas [laughter], and the key is to follow through on the good ideas and have a chuckle about the bad ideas. And you can actually discern the difference the key is to pay attention and to have some knowledge and some framework around when you have 400 tabs open in your brain for all of the ideas, and you couldn't possibly do all of the things, and you can't harness it because you're so cluttered.

And it's hard sometimes to admit that we feel this way. I'm sharing that I feel this way often because, I think, I suspect - I'm on social media. I know. I see it - that many people are experiencing the same thing. And it's this brain overload.

It's this idea overload. It's then not knowing what to do with all of the ideas and all of the things, right? If you have 10 events and three kids and a house to run and kids to drop off at school and a business and friends and family, it gets very hard to keep it all in your head and balance it out.

Thank You, Bad Idea, Now Let's Move On 

And, in fact, probably we shouldn't keep it all in our head. So that's kind of a starting point. And when you find your brain racing it can be very difficult to harness the good stuff and let go of the, let's just call it, "unbeneficial" ideas. And they're really just rabbit holes that our brain goes down. It's kind of like what if this? What if this? What if that? What if that? So what we're trying to do is use the good and move forward with that, and say, "Thank you, idea," give it a little bit of space, but not air to take up all of the space in our brains.

A Brain Dump Lets Our Brain Rest (A Little)

One of the ways that you can get all of those ideas out and give it space, is to do something called a brain dump. This will help you keep the ideas from getting garbled with your to-do list. And I think that that blurring happens a lot. You get a lot of ideas, you look at your to-do list, and then you're like, what if this? What if that? What if this? What if that? So I've been researching brain dumps and how to work with it.

So what a brain dump is, let's just start there, is it's a process for helping you unload all of the clutter in your brain so that you can actually let go of it. And you can either do a brain dump by yourself or I actually recommend doing it with somebody else who can keep asking you questions to kind of push you to clear even more out of what's going on in your head. It's kind of this way of getting out of your head, getting more in your body, talking about things out loud so that you're able to move on. And there are actually apps for this, and there are actually lots of different ways of doing it.

Chances Are You Need A Brain Dump, If:

So here are some indicators that you may need to have a brain dump. So one is when you have a busy schedule, which might be all the time. That makes sense, but when it's an intensely busy schedule, if you're looking ahead at the week, you might need to take a little bit of time - either on Friday, hopefully not during the weekend, but depending on when you plan for the next week, maybe during the weekend - to empty your head so that you can move forward and feel a little bit better. It could also be when you're feeling a little unbalanced or off.

It can also be at a time when you are not feeling like you're really moving things forward. At a time when you're stuck or frustrated when you have a lot of new things going on. It could be if your mind is racing and your brain is tangled. It's a good time to sit down and go through all of the things that are in your head. 

And what you might find is things that are in your head that are stories from before [laughter]. These could be things that are going to be happening in two to three years. So what we're trying to do is empty out all of the little things that are nagging at us in our head. Other good times when you might want to think about doing a brain-dump or leading yourself through a brain-dump is when you're going to do something new, or when you're nervous about something. And it's also helpful if you want to streamline some of your to-dos.

If you're planning out something for the next month or year, or if you want to write a blog post.

Sometimes you want to just empty out your head about everything and all of the ideas that you have. I know it sounds like you could be doing a brain-dump all the time. The point is that if you are habitually going through and going your brain a chance to rest and say, "Here are all the things that I'm thinking about." With time, it actually makes it easier, okay? It actually makes it easier. And you can do it in so many different ways. So a couple of the brain-dump videos or apps that you can use are Flipgrid. There's another one called Socrative. It's all about just getting in the practice of saying, "I'm going to let all this stuff go and I'm going to give it to somebody else, or I'm going to write it down on this piece of paper, or I'm going to do it in an app. And I'm just going to let it all go."

I Use Pocket So I Don't Read Too Much

One of the ways that I do it myself is I use a-- one of my big rabbit holes is I'm an avid reader and an avid researcher. And I can spend days reading articles. And then I'm like, "Wait. What? How did I get here?" And so the way that I kind of stop that, if I'm really busy is I have an app that I use on my phone and my computer called Pocket.

Which if you've never heard of Pocket is basically like, read later. If you're in Facebook, you can bookmark it. If you're in another app, you might be able to bookmark it. I actually try to save everything to Pocket, even if I'm in Facebook because then I have all these articles that I was like, "That looks really cool." That I can read later [laughter] because one of the ways that you can harness your ideas to reach your goals is to eliminate distraction.

Mental Clutter Becomes Shoulds and Have-Tos

And that's something that we've talked about a fair amount on this show. This is another form of distraction which is that mental clutter that kind of builds up over time, of all the shoulds, and the have-tos, and all of the nagging things that can keep you up at night. Or can keep you from getting things done. So there are all kinds of apps out there that you can connect to. You could even just use Notepad or anything, Evernote, anything.

And just kind of have a place where you can free-write for 10 or 14 minutes. Or you can just bullet point out all the things that you're concerned with, or that you're worried about. And if you think it might take forever, don't worry about that. I don't think it's really going to take that long. It's just giving you the opportunity to empty your head out. So the benefit of that is that you can then review it and read it, and then discern what's important, and what's not important. And I found a really good app for this recently that I would like to share with you.

The Eisenhower Matrix: Categorizing Ideas and Tasks

It's called the Eisenhower Matrix. And it's because president Eisenhower came up with a methodology for how to discern what he wants to move forward with and what he doesn't. It's actually very similar to what Stephen Covey came up with later.

He kind of adapted it a little bit. But if you're the president of the United States, you're constantly being bombarded with ideas about what you should do and what you can do and what you can't do. And so Eisenhower came up with this matrix that helps people discern or helped him, anyway, discern all of the tasks and what works and what doesn't work. And I think that it is super great. So it, basically, is broken down like this. And I'm reading this from eisenhower.me.

That's the app that they have, and then you can also download these templates there. So it's about what do I do first, these are urgent and important. The schedule, which is less urgent but important, and that's labeled number two. Delegate, which is urgent but less important. And I guess, obviously, if you have somebody else around, then you can delegate these tasks to somebody else. And then don't do, which is neither urgent nor important.

Now, the interesting thing about this is you might think that do first is the most important box on this template.

And honestly, on the eisenhower.me website, they don't really talk about which box you should be focusing on as a business owner. The truth is that many of us spend our time on do first, urgent and important. And we spend less time delegating, and we probably don't have a list of what we don't need to do. So to me, those are kind of valuable points.

Like, "What can I outsource? And what is it that, clearly, I just don't need to be doing at all?" But the box that is actually the most important for you and me and all of us out there, whether we're in business or not or just trying to get stuff done, is the schedule, the less urgent but important things that we all have on our to-do list. And I'll tell you why. And I read this somewhere, and if I find it, I'll put it in the show notes. But I agree with this point wholeheartedly.

What Do We Need to Focus On? Less Urgent, And Important

The less urgent but important things are typically where things like business development goes.

But how often do we actually follow through with the schedule for these things? It's where blog posts go to die. It's where bookkeeping , keeping up with your bookkeeping, might go to die. Whatever those things are that you're like, "Man, I need that. But I'll take care of it after I do these things first."

The box to focus on if you're trying to discern what all these ideas are and where they need to go, the box to focus on, the box that is where are the most important ideas, the box where your goals are, the box that will help you move things forward, is actually in the less urgent but important, the things you need to schedule out.

Because once you've emptied out your brain, it becomes more clear. You have more discernment because you've cleared the clutter. That's what's so great about a brain dump. But then the next step, the step that will help you reach your goals, is really about, "What the heck do I do with all this stuff now that I've written it out?" The most important box is what is not urgent but important. These are the things that nag at you, these are the things that you know in your body, heart, and soul are the things that will help you move yourself, your business, your life to wherever it is that you want to go.

So above all, it's about discerning what it is that you don't need to be doing and staying out of that, "My hair is on fire. Oh my God, how am I going to do all of the things? I better just do everything first." And if there's one thing that I think we can all relate to, it's that we spend a lot of time with our hair on fire. Especially when we're trying to balance all of the things, when we're trying to balance friends and family and business and whatever else that we have in our life. Whether it's hobbies or friends or all of these different things, the most important box in our life is what we need to schedule out, it's not urgent, but it's important. It's things like going on a date with somebody you love or making time for friends or really looking at where you want to be in two, three, five years and discerning how you're going to reach those goals, prioritizing your ideas, prioritizing the projects that you want to work on. So that you are more prepared to build the foundation that it's going to take in order to reach those goals.

I hope all of this has been really helpful. I hope that in taking a minute to dump out the contents of your brain and then figuring out a way to prioritize them and give them space and that realization that not all the ideas are good, which hurts a little, right?

We want to think that all of our ideas are good. But not all of our ideas are good. And I think it's important to thank those ideas and then move on. And by thanking them, you're giving those ideas some closure. And you are more able to navigate in alignment when you are able to discern your ideas and then figure out which of those ideas are going to help you get exactly where you want to be.

And with that, I'm going to close the show. I hope you have a great day, and I'll catch you all next week.

Show Outro

[music] Thank you for listening to the Women Conquer Business Podcast. If you're wondering, "What's next," here are a few suggestions. If you love the show, be sure to subscribe. If you want to follow me on social media, you can find Women Conquer Business on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. And finally, if the episode today brought something up for you and you need to talk, email me at hello@jenmcfarland.com. The Women Conquer Business Podcast is written and produced by Jen McFarland and Foster Growth LLC in beautiful Southeast Portland, Oregon. Thanks again for listening. [music]

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