Everyone has ideas for a book, movie, video game, or business. But why is it that some people can execute these ideas and build the life of their dreams while others can’t turn ideas into reality? What is the difference between these types of people?
Fundamentally, there are a few things that can prevent us from turning our ideas into reality.
- Fear of failure
- Ill-defined goals
- Lack of community support
- An ill-fitting strategy
Fear of Failure
The fear of failure is one of the most crippling problems in our community. It is what keeps us from doing the things we need to do, as well as the things we want to do. Being afraid of failure holds you back in life.
For example, if you want to be a comedian and go on stage, but get no laughs, you are likely to feel pretty bad about it. Moreover, that experience will stick with you. You will not want to go on stage again. That will prevent you from pursuing your dream of being a comedian.
However, someone who does not fear failure will go on stage again, and again, until they at least get a couple of laughs. They will learn from those experiences and refine their craft. Such a person will figure out what works and what does not. That is because they are willing to fail repeatedly. Every time they fail, they gain more experience, which helps them move forward.
If you want to build your dream life, you need to reframe failure from being a negative experience to a learning opportunity. Realize that the outcomes of your actions do not dictate your value as a person. As a result, you can be a person who tries and fails instead of a person who “is a failure”.
Click here to read about how to overcome the fear of failure.
Trying to achieve perfect results is another trap that people fall into when trying to turn ideas into reality. Often, trying to ensure the “best” outcome paralyzes us and prevents us from moving forward. Instead, if we focus on a result that is good enough, we can make a lot more progress over time.
That ties back into having a fear of failure. We try to be perfect all the time to minimize our chances of failure. However, if that perfectionism keeps you from doing what you need to do, then it results in more harm than good.
It’s better to focus on doing your best and making a “good enough” effort instead of striving for the best result. You will make mistakes and learn from them, even if you try to be perfect. So a better strategy is to make more mistakes, fail faster, and learn faster.
Moreover, focusing on what you can do instead of what you cannot do will also help you get things done.
For example, imagine that you are feeling tired because you did not get enough sleep. Now you have two options. You can try to force yourself to muscle through all your tasks throughout the day. Alternatively, you can do as much as you can and then use the remaining time to get some rest. That way, you can recuperate and come back tomorrow with more energy and enthusiasm.
Check out this interview with Pokimane about perfectionism
We procrastinate on turning our ideas into reality because our goals are not very well-defined.
Many people talk about getting fit, but that is not an actionable goal. You cannot “get fit.” There is no actionable way to get fit. That is why that goal is so paralyzing. It doesn’t have any action associated with it.
This kind of procrastination is called operational procrastination. When we cannot break a goal down into actionable tasks, it becomes hard for us to stick to it. For example, a better goal than “getting fit” is to show up at the gym thrice a week. You don’t even have to work out. Just go to the gym. You will be surprised at what the environment gets you to do.
Getting your dream job, achieving financial independence, starting that business, or writing a book; all of these tasks are not actionable. It is hard to break them down into smaller, actionable steps.
Another aspect of ill-defined goals is having something called choice paralysis. Choice paralysis is when you have so many ideas that you cannot pick one. For example, you might have ideas for two books and three businesses. However, you have no clue where to start with them.
The solution to choice paralysis is to prioritize. Make a list of the pros and cons of each of those ideas. Also, look at how easy they are to execute with your current skillset. Attempt to tackle the most straightforward idea first, because it will help you gain positive momentum. It will also help you learn skills that can help you with your future ideas.
Lack of Community Support
Finding a community around your interests is a highly overlooked way of cultivating and maintaining motivation. Communities can keep you accountable over many years, and they can be a constant source of inspiration and knowledge.
Moreover, it is crucial to find people who have faith in you. They can keep you going when you are feeling down and feel like quitting. People who genuinely care about your wellbeing and growth in life are invaluable assets.
Talk about your interests with other likeminded people. It is the best way to build a community around shared hobbies. Over time, you can learn from each other and grow as people. It is incredibly fulfilling to find other people on similar paths as you and help each other grow.
Moreover, other people with shared interests can help you find resources that will help you grow faster. Remember, human beings are community-oriented creatures. We work well when we help each other.
Another common problem that people run into when trying to turn ideas into reality is to try to use a strategy that is not suitable for them.
Different people work in different ways. For example, imagine that you naturally gravitate towards switching from one task to another every 40 minutes. If you try to finish one task in 3 hours before moving onto another, you will not be as efficient.
Those 3 hours will not be as productive as doing something for 40 minutes and then switching to something else.
In fact, if you force yourself to work in that manner, that work will be less fun. Over time, you will associate it with a lack of enjoyment, which will negatively affect your enjoyment and productivity. In the long run, it will prevent you from turning your ideas into reality.
Therefore, it is sometimes better to capitalize on your strengths rather than beat yourself up over your weaknesses.
Moreover, it is okay to be obsessed with something for a little while, learn it decently, and move on to something else. You don’t have to master every skill you try to pick up.
For example, if you want to learn video editing for five days and then never try it again, that is completely fine. These attempts at learning new skills will inform you what you like to do and what you do not like to do. That information will help you move forward in a general direction.
Dr. K talks about different models of personality and strategies for success in this video:
If you find that you cannot stick to building a particular skillset over a long period, try changing your strategy. Approach the goal from multiple angles.
For example, if you want to learn to play the piano, you don’t just have to hire a teacher. You can watch youtube tutorials for your favorite songs, try to learn improvisation, listen to a new genre and try to play it, learn musical theory, or follow a structured course. Trying different things will keep your interest high enough so that you can keep moving forward in a particular direction.
We love to quote “Jack of all trades, master of none”. However, not many people realize that the full quote is: “Jack of all trades and master of none is better than a master of one.” It is okay to be good at many things and not be a master. Generalists that have a particular direction are still valuable to society.
Turning Ideas into Reality
Most people tend to get bored with their ideas very quickly. That is because of the way we think about them.
We mull over the first one, and it leads to many different variations of the initial idea. All of these thoughts are loosely connected, and by the time we get to idea #10, it is very different from the root idea #1. Eventually, all we have are a bunch of ideas with no execution.
Now let’s look at the mind of someone good at turning ideas into reality. Dr. K had a conversation with Pestily, a YouTuber and Twitch Streamer, and they talked about how Pestily acts on his ideas. We learned that Pestily executes ideas by thinking about the initial root idea in many different ways.
There is a difference between merely thinking about an idea and talking about it with someone. When you do the latter, it externalizes the idea and comes one step closer to becoming real. You can get bored of thinking about traveling, but you can maintain by interest by talking to someone else about traveling. The new perspective will keep your interest high.
The main difference between someone who can execute and someone who struggles is how they think about their ideas. Someone who knows how to turn ideas into reality takes small actions to externalize their initial idea. However, the person who struggles to take action generates more ideas from their first one. As a result, none of their ideas get realized in the world.
Keep your interest high by capitalizing on curiosity. When you have an idea, you are curious about it. But over time, that curiosity goes down. Despite that, if you can continue to externalize and think about the same idea in many different ways, you can maintain your curiosity and not get bored. That is a potent tool if you want to turn ideas into action.
Check out the interview with Pestily!
The First Step is a Thousand Steps
The problem with taking action is that it is not just one step. For example, if you want to learn to play the guitar, the first step is to get one. However, that involves learning about guitars, deciding what sort of music you want to play, getting opinions from other people, doing your research, and picking one you like.
When we overlook all these micro-actions, we tend to think that the first step is pretty straightforward. As a result, when we try to take the first step, we realize that it is more than one action. That can feel overwhelming. Therefore, it is useful to break down one task into many smaller tasks and then focus on taking mini-steps in the direction you want to move in.
There are three ways to turn your ideas into reality and overcome procrastination:
- Become curious about your ideas. Use that curiosity to build upon the initial idea and generate momentum.
- Find people who have faith in you. Look for a community that supports you and helps you bring your ideas to life.
- Embrace failure. It is not an outcome; it is a stepping stone on the journey forward.