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3 months ago I wrote this post: Money Experiment 4: Becoming an Idea Machine. My goal was very simple: become an idea machine by writing down 10 different ideas everyday. I took this idea from James Altucher, a world famous entrepreneur who attributes his success to his constant generation of ideas. I thought hmmm wouldn’t mind being an idea machine and decided to do a Money Experiment on it. Yes it does have to do with money because when making money, one always needs ideas to improve the situation.
It’s now been three months and I’ve tried to be consistent with writing 10 ideas every day. I use an app called Ideas (original I know) and my phone currently holds 794 ideas, ranging from ‘Ways to read more’ to ‘Alternatives to college’. Here are my top takeaways from this gruelling challenge:
1. It’s harder than it looks
Eh, just 10 ideas, right? NooOOOO. 10 ideas is hard. Especially when it’s something like ‘10 ways to travel more’. Eventually you do get better at it, but it’s quite a challenge to think up all these ideas; which is why you do it in the first place: to get better at it.
Good ideas are hard.
10 ideas is hard, but it gets easier and more interesting.
2. You can have ideas about literally anything
The first 10 ideas I wrote were the 10 topic ideas I would write for the next 10 days. So ‘How to make more money’ ‘Ways to do more exercise’, etc. It’s like writing 10 ideas of ideas to write about. Ideaception. And after 10 days you write another set of topic ideas.
The cool part is that you start writing ideas about self-improvement. How could I be more generous? 10 ideas. How could I look better? Another 10. How could I get better at drawing? This goes on and on and you start feeling that everything could be improving and that you have a lot to change. More on this in takeaway 4.
As you keep going on this cycle, you realise that ideas are infinite, and that you can literally find ideas for anything. You feel like a self-improvement machine, constantly trying to find ideas to improve your life. Eventually you realise that life is not all about you, and that there are other types of ideas to work on: ‘10 ways to clean a house’, ‘10 ways to have a shower’, etc. If you’re feeling adventurous you can think of 10 ways to have a better sex life, or 10 new things to try. I’m telling you, ideas are infinite.
3. Ideas start to pop out of everywhere
After writing the 10 ideas of the day, I go about my daily life: have a shower, go to school, meet up with people. But the topic of the day is always in the back of my mind. I’ll be walking about the street and suddenly think of another idea for that topic. Or even of the topic the day before. I’m inundated with ideas and it can feel kind of powerful (unless the topic of the day was ‘10 ways to teach English’).
And the funny thing is that the actually good ideas are the ones I have later in the day. And this makes sense: my subconscious works on the idea topic throughout the day, and comes up with the good ones later on.
4. You’re constantly changing
This takeaway would be my negative point about the whole idea machine experiment. As mentioned in takeaway 2, the self-improvement cycle becomes addicting. You’re constantly looking for ways to improve, and eventually my idea topics were mainly focused on blog improvements. Although it may sound like a good thing, I felt that I couldn’t stick to anything, because I was always looking to improve it. I wrote ideas on how to improve the blog design, redid the blog design, then repeated the process 7 days later. Does it mean the blog design actually improved? I hope so, but the constant changing probably did more harm than good.
Every time I encountered a problem I’d think: Tomorrow’s 10 ideas will be 10 solutions to fix that problem. It feels like you’re forcing problems.
5. You test your discipline
The hardest part was actually writing those 10 ideas down everyday. The first two months were pretty rigorous: everyday at 8.30 am I had a little reminder to write down my 10 ideas. I wrote them on the app, and then I was back to normal life. Simple, right? Nope, on the third month I slacked. Not only was it the holidays (which also meant not always being awake at 8.30), but writing the 10 ideas felt more and more like a chore. It only took 10 minutes but it was something I wasn’t looking forward to. More on this in the next takeaway.
It was interesting to see how my discipline faired during those 3 months. Could I really force myself to write those 10 ideas every single day? It worked well at the beginning, but the end got harder.
6. You stop caring
This is the real reason my discipline slacked towards the end. I got tired of constantly trying to improve, of not being satisfied with my current state. I can’t attribute this only to writing ideas, my life in general has been pretty hectic in the last 3 months (new flat, new uni, new travels, new goals), but it certainly enforced it.
Eventually, I stopped caring. The last week of the 3rd month, the little 8.30 am alarm would go off and I’d shout ‘F*** you’ to the phone (my flatmates were probably a little worried). I didn’t want to write ideas, I didn’t want to think of new ways to do something, I didn’t want to improve every single aspect of my life. I was done.
Writing 10 ideas everyday has been quite a journey, and it’s probably affected me much more than I thought it would. I got some really good ideas and the constant improvement means that I’m in a better position than I was 3 months ago. But it’s time for a break, my phone has received too many ‘F*** you’s’ in the past week or so. So now for the big questions:
Did I become an idea machine?
I would say: yes. The constant ideas popping into my head, the easier it got to write ideas, the constant trying to improve. I was always looking for topics for my ideas, always finding several solutions for a problem. So yes, I had more ideas than the previous Araminta.
James Altucher suggests writing ideas for 6 months, but honestly I feel 3 months was enough for me.
Was it a successful Money Experiment?
The verdict: yes. These ideas are what helped improve my blog, make me some money and improve myself. It was tiring always trying to improve, but I learnt a lot from it.
Should you do this Money Experiment?
Of course. Writing 10 ideas a day only takes 10 minutes and could bring a lot of improvements to your life. But contrary to James Altucher, you don’t have to do this for 6 months for it to have an impact on your life. Even 3 months is a bit much; I suggest just one month, unless you really do want to become a machine (good luck pal).
My personal takeaway
This experiment taught me the power of ideas and how to take action with them. It’s crazy how in your own little brain mush you can create such strange and interesting ideas. It really is.
But I don’t want to become an idea machine anymore. In fact, I want to become an idea machine on demand, when I want to. Now, whenever I have a problem, I sit down and write ideas to solve it. But I won’t force problems everyday and try to find 10 ways to solve them at 8.30 am. Nope.