When you find yourself at a dead end in some area of your life, there’s only one thing you can blame: your thinking. Ultimately, you are where you are today due to the cumulative effect of every decision you’ve ever made.

You thought it was your circumstances that got you there? Sorry. This one’s on you, pal.

You need new ideas. New thinking. After all, you can’t expect to pull yourself out of your predicament using the same thinking that got you there in the first place, can you?

Go ahead and try. I’ll wait. In fact, I waited far too long with my own life.

Over the years, I’ve wrestled with a number of self development challenges that I just can’t seem to crack. It’s as if their wiring runs so deep that no matter what I try, I can’t penetrate deep enough into the problem to make a noticeable change.

So I procrastinate. I judge others. I complain. I don’t stick to plans.

Time to try some new thinking. Some new ideas.

My idea? To become… an idea machine.

Becoming an “Idea Machine”

“Idea machine” is a concept dreamed up by the incomparable James Altucher, an American hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, bestselling author, and podcaster. He’s also my favorite self help author because he has great, original ideas and because he is possibly the most entertaining writer I’ve ever come across. Most non-fiction writers are terrible writers. I’m certainly no Stephen King. But James definitely does not suck.

I’m getting off course here.

An idea machine is a person who has worked out his “idea muscle” to the point that he is able to come up with great ideas consistently. If you don’t repeatedly work out your idea muscle, it will atrophy. Why are ideas so important? I’ll let James explain:

“Ideas are the currency of life. Not money. Money gets depleted until you go broke. But good ideas buy you good experiences, buy you better ideas, buy you better experiences, buy you more time, save your life. Financial wealth is a side effect of the “runner’s high” of your idea muscle.”

By writing down a list of 10 ideas every day, we are essentially training our brains to focus on finding ideas and solutions everywhere around us. Remember the Tetris effect that I wrote about in my Gratitude Challenge intro? It’s ok if you don’t. I’m not mad at you. (I’m just crossing you off my xmas card list as we speak.)

Anyways, the Tetris effect occurs when people devote so much time and attention to an activity that it begins to pattern their thoughts, mental images, and dreams.

To put this in the context of becoming an idea machine, the more time you spend coming up with ideas and solutions, the more you start to notice them everywhere around you. It’s hard to think of a scenario where having too many good ideas would be a bad thing. In fact, I can’t. An abundance of good ideas practically always leads to good outcomes.

So what can you expect to happen once you achieve the status of having become an idea machine? Why not let James explain it to you himself:

“Every situation you are in, you will have a ton of ideas. Any question you are asked, you will know the response. Every meeting you are at, you will take the meeting so far out of the box you’ll be on another planet, if you are stuck on a desert highway – you will figure the way out, if you need to make money you’ll come up with 50 ideas to make money, and so on.”

Sounds great, but how do we get there?

Rules of the Challenge

The rules are simple: I will write down 10 ideas about a particular topic every single day. I’ve been doing this for a bit over a week now, and some of the lists I’ve written so far include:

  • 10 blog post ideas
  • 10 ideas to boost productivity
  • 10 ideas to overcome limiting beliefs
  • 10 ideas about improving focus

Normally my challenges last for 30 days, but here I am going to make an exception and make this a 180 day challenge. Why? Because James convinced me that I needed to give it six months.

I plan to write a brief update every 30 days or so to discuss my progress and observations.

Heck, maybe I’ll write a “10 Ideas I’ve Gotten from Writing 10 Ideas Every Day” update.

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