Growth September 23, 2020

I am an Idea Addict, and I admit it.

Maggie Ryan @maggieryan

A month into a new startup, and it's happening again.


I say this at least 15 times a day. I also chew my co-founder's ear off about those ideas.

Launching a startup usually comes with the "fail fast", "hustle and grind" mentality. Which means I'm constantly trying new things, new avenues, new ideas, new channels, new, new,!

Testing ideas fast has an upside, of course. You save yourself loads of time and money. Is there such a thing as "failing too fast"? For me, there is.

And it look like this.

  • I learn something new
  • I take the thing I learned and I forget about it
  • because I am on my way thinking about a totally different idea
  • because I am not focusing on the actual problem
  • I chase and chase this idea
  • until I realize that I've been down this road before

Leaving me demotivated, frustrated, and usually with a migraine. I mentally exhaust myself. I'm like a very hyper hamster on a wheel.

So, I decided to get off the wheel. It's as simple as making the choice to focus on one thing at a time, and giving myself enough time and space to truly think through an idea. Monkey mind is a real thing, and combined with an Idea Addiction, it can be lethal.

Just get off the wheel.

This is a reminder to myself.

  1. 4

    ideas are good, what I do is I have multiple whiteboards where I spent time. When I get an idea I write it down on the board. Then I can forget about it. Later I come back around the whiteboard see the idea, connect the many ideas. Connect the dots.

    1. 1

      I love this idea. I use Notion, just have a running ideas list. But the white board makes it more interactive I bet! :)

    1. 1

      Wow. So simple. So useful. Thank you for this tip!

  2. 1

    @maggieryan like you, my mind is not wired to focus on one thing and discard everything else.

    I feel like the whole "focus on one thing" drum has been beaten far too much, primarily by VCs who want you to grind yourself into the ground for the one thing they're investing in (at least until you get acquired - they don't give a crap what you do after they exit).

    It's ok to have lots of ideas. It's ok to plan and pursue some or all of them at the same time. It's not ok to ignore common threads between them that can potentially make building each of them easier.

    That's the key. Chances are pretty good that your ideas have overlap; whether in the implementation details, markets, the ways one can integrate with others, or any number of other things. Boil down each idea to key components, audiences, etc., and figure out what they share in common.

    Worst case scenario, you still end up dropping ideas to focus on others (or even just one), but you branched out in ways that broke out of the tunnel vision that can come with focusing on just one.

    If it helps, I'd be happy to chat via email or even set up a meeting to expand upon this further. [email protected]

  3. 1

    I'm the same way! One way to mitigate the negatives is to quickly validate the idea before writing a single line of code. I was thinking about this problem and went meta and built something to help:

    The idea being you only build if you hit your subscriber target.

  4. 1

    I think we all listen to the same podcast 😂

  5. 1

    I know your pain, I am a little idea addict too. I even brought a domain :)
    I even buy a good domain after I am stuck with ideas, so I have over 30 domains now.. more than half of them waiting for my attention.

    1. 2

      Oh my...I know exactly what you mean. We have 3 people in the family that are like this. Whenever we have a conversation and we coin a cool term together, domains are bought instantly :D

  6. 1

    On the paper, it is simple to get off the wheel but tremendously mentally challenging. So nay, ain't that simple, is it?

    1. 1

      Definitely easier said than done. But I see it as a mental choice. For example, just like I'm addicted to chocolate chip cookies, sometimes I have to decide to only stick to 1 or none at all that day. There is 100% an internal battle / war!

      1. 1

        Yeah, when you start battling with your brain... 😅

  7. 1

    Thanks for sharing! Since I started building software I've been guilty of this as well, I have a Trello board filled with these ideas ranging from software I want to build, to courses I want to create or physical products I want to sell.

    It wasn't until last year that I made the exact same decision you did, I still add my ideas to a note pad but I'm being careful with what I chose to do focus my time and energy on, and I've started to work towards one of these ideas at a time and forcing myself to not execute on anything else until I know if what I've already started works or not, specially since I now have 3 kids and want to make sure I don't miss precious time with them.

    I'm looking for ways to not get back into that wheel, is not that easy to ignore what I sometimes perceive as a good idea.

    1. 2

      Hey Hector! Thank you for sharing. Being careful is so so so important. Or else...burn out happens. Wow - 3 kids! You are a super hero. From reading one message from you - I am confident in saying that I am sure you will get onto the wheel, and soon.

      Above, someone posted a tip. Before thinking about an idea more deeply ask yourself "will this thing save someone's money or time?" I found this an interesting angle to work from.

      Ideas are everywhere. Keeping track of them is awesome. Some of the things I think about are: what are my recourses? Can I do this on my own? Being a software engineer gives you like little magical tools to build whatever it is that you want or need.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your story, friend!

      1. 1

        hey @maggieryan @hectorsanchezmx, i 100% agree! my feeling is that keeping records is pretty easy, curating ideas of course takes a bit more time, but then deciding on what to execute on takes a ton of consideration -- e.g. do i have the bandwidth? do i have the skill set? will i need additional resources, capital, etc?

        wrt trello, rn i only use it to manage projects that i happen to be working on. but in terms of ideas i use google sheets all day -- and basically use 3 tabs to sort thru any ideas. tab 1 is really anything i read that i find that's interesting, including links to reference articles, any notes, and in most cases is not a fully formed idea yet. tab 2 are now more structured thoughts/ideas that i'd like to explore further. and tab 3 are highly considered projects where i'm now committed to and either looking for a dev to work with, or am already working with someone to get to launch.

        that all being said, i then take one of the ideas from tab 2 each week and make it publicly available via a newsletter that i publish every week. feel free to check it out here!

        and if you have any suggestions or anything please definitely LMK, thanks!

  8. 1

    Do you write these ideas down? Just getting them out of your head would be good. I've been thinking of keeping a Roam, Linked Based, Zettlekasten, Slipbox and/or note system for this kind of thing.

    1. 1

      Yes! Definitely. I write these down in Notion. And it 100% feels SO good to just get it all down somewhere. Thank you for sharing your tip!

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