Creating Space for Your Monster Ideas

Written by Scott November 2, 2010

Create Space for Your Big Ideas

“Smile, breathe and go slowly”
-Thich Nhat Hanh

Average Read Time: 1.5 Minutes

Note from Scott: This post is shorter than usual. Please use the extra time to actually get outside and do it!

Yesterday I woke up with a ton of things on my list. Instead of rolling right out of bed and into a day of trying to do more than was possible, I went for a walk.

I spent two hours walking along the beach in San Francisco. I had no agenda, no plan or anywhere I needed to be. It was awesome.

How often do you feel you have time to take a two-hour walk? For most of us it’s never, because we cram our schedule so full of things to do.

Big Ideas Need Room

It’s easy to justify why we should never spend an hour or two doing nothing, since there is always ‘something’ to do. But when was the last time something really important came to you while you were rushing from task to task, frantically checking email and reacting to whatever came your way?

Big thinking happens outside of the office. For me that’s while tasting wine in Croatia, catching a sunrise from my rooftop, climbing up a mountain, hitting a barefoot run or meandering the beaches of San Francisco.

You never know when ideas will come. But you must create space to give them a chance.

How to Create Space

You will never have space to mentally and physically run wild if you don’t make time for it. Most importantly, schedule some time to get out. Start with at least an hour. Don’t tell yourself you have more important things to do. You don’t. The world will be there when you get back.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Get outside (ideally in nature)
  • Go for a slow walk
  • Sit on a park bench
  • Watch the sun rise or set
  • Listen to some inspiring music
  • Feed some ducks
  • Watch clouds drift
  • Strike up a conversation
  • Draw shapes with your toes in the sand
  • Take some pictures

Go slowly. There’s a reason why I didn’t suggest running, biking or any other vigorous exercise in the above list. While those are awesome head clearers, it’s too easy to get focused on how far or how fast you can go. All of that thinking will take away from the space you’re in search of.

Don’t have an agenda.

Unlike most of the things we plan, do not expect to accomplish anything specific from your time outside. The only accomplishment is being. That will happen no matter what. Don’t expect your latest writing topic or a new business venture to magically appear during your hour or two.

Take the pressure off and just enjoy the time. The rest will come naturally.

The more focus you put on the doing, the less likely you are to stop and smell a rose, literally, or have a chat with the interesting person next to you. The goal is to let anything happen, with no idea of what.

During my two hours I met a 150-mile ultramarathoner, made friends with a five-year-old who wanted my advice on whether there were sharks in the nearby stream (I told him that most water shallower than 2 feet is usually safe) and I sharpened my Spanish with a tourist from Madrid.

Not to mention I got some invigorating ideas for my Find Your Freedom eBook I’ve been working on for all of you. And without that space, the article you’re reading wouldn’t exist either.

Make it a daily ritual to create space.

If you have to, only give yourself a 6-hour workday instead of 8 (you’ll probably get a ton more done that way anyway). It’s likely that the most valuable time you spend is out doing ‘nothing’. Freedom starts in your mind and gets reflected in your life. Give yourself some space.

Your biggest ideas are waiting.

If you need me, I’ll be out wandering somewhere…

How do you create space? Share in the comments section below, because ideas need company!

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Photo courtesy of Thiago Floriano
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