Get Unstuck: Three Dozen Ways to Stir Up Fresh Ideas

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Guest Post

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again
— expecting different results.

If you find yourself in that place where the results you’ve been getting are not solving the problem or helping you achieve your goals, you need to do something different.

If the challenge of doing something different is a bit beyond your grasp, here are 36 ideas to help you “jump the tracks” and encounter something new!

1. Go to the nearest newspaper/magazine stand. Buy a dozen magazines. None should be ones you usually read. Spend the better part of a day flipping through them. Tear pages out. Paste them to a posterboard. Circle interesting items. Make notes.

2. Go onto the Internet. Visit a dozen sites you haven’t visited before. Follow any link that is even the least bit intriguing. Subscribe to some email lists on subjects you know nothing about.

3. Leave work early Wednesday afternoon. Visit the closest mall and wander around for an hour. Make notes about what you like and dislike. Products, merchandising, whatever you encounter.

4. Buy a package of 3 x 5-inch index cards and carry them with you. Use them to make notes of whatever catches your attention. Do it for a week and review your observations.

5. Plan on taking a different kind of vacation – detail everything from the place you stay to how you get there and what you’ll do there. If you’ve never cruised before—book a cruise. Never camped out? Rent a camper.

6. Look through your list of contacts. Find the person you haven’t spoken with in the longest time. Call her/him and invite her/him to lunch. Go to a restaurant you’ve never been to before.

7. Once a month, pick a name of someone interesting you’ve lost touch with. Take her/him to breakfast or coffee. Let them choose the place.

8. Tomorrow, after work, go home via a route you’ve never taken before. Really go out of your way to cover new territory.

8. Going out on Saturday night? Go to a place you’ve never been before. Maybe go there with people you’ve never gone out with before!

10. Having a dinner party? Invite somebody you’ve never invited before. And be sure to serve something you’ve never made before.

11. Locate your local Community College. Get a course catalog. Pick a couple of interesting courses you’ve always wanted to know more about and sign up.

12. Read a provocative article in a blog you’ve never read before. E-mail the author. See what happens.

13. At your local school or charity and get involved in their latest fundraising campaign.

14. Volunteer to talk to a public school class about a topic about which you are knowledgeable.

15. A chance to work with a group of people you’ve never worked with before comes up. Take the assignment no matter how little it pays or how inconvenient it may be.

16. You’re really upset about the state of your neighborhood. Get involved in the neighborhood association. Join your HOA.

17. Even if you aren’t interested in changing jobs, go to the next job fair.

18. Your child’s school is looking for chaperones for the field trip. Volunteer to go along.

19. Sit down with your spouse/significant other and make a list of three things you’ve “been meaning to do” . . . then come up with a plan for doing at least one of them in the next six months.

20. Institute a monthly Lunch & Learn. Encourage all your colleagues to nominate interesting people to be invited. Teach each other interesting subjects – not work related. Invite guests from outside to speak.

21. In your alumni magazine, you read about a classmate who’s doing something unusual with his or her life. Call him or her tomorrow and make a plan to get together.

22. Call the wisest person you know. Ask her/him to lunch. Ask her/him if he or she would be willing to sit with you for a couple of hours every three months to talk about what you’ve done and where you’re going.

23. Become a Scout troop leader. Teach a Merit Badge class.

24. Go to the beach and build a sand castle. Stay long enough to have it get washed away by the rising tide.

25. Set your alarm clock for an hour earlier than usual. Take a walk around the neighborhood and watch the sun rise. Listen to the sounds of the city as it wakes up and gets busy.

26. Attend the next large convention that comes to town. Be sure to go to the exhibit hall and collect a lot of brochures, business cards and free samples from every booth. When you get home, review all of your goodies and think how they relate to your life.

27. Read every word of the package insert of one of the medicines you take. See if you can understand what it is saying. Think about what it says and why they are telling you this information.

28.Visit your local television station and watch the taping of a show. Observe all of the action that goes on around and behind the on-camera scene.

29. Go to the nearest body of water, whether it is a river, lake, stream or ocean, and take off your shoes and socks and wade in the water for a while.

30. Visit a dozen open houses this weekend. Try going to several different neighborhoods. Notice the style of architecture and furnishings. Gather the sales materials and compare them with each other.

31. Go on a garage sale scavenger hunt. Set aside three hours on Saturday to drive all around to various garage sales and collect something totally mundane and inexpensive.

32. Go to the lobby of a major hotel. Sit there for a while and observe the people coming and going. Make up stories about the people that explain their actions.

33. Shop at a different supermarket this week. Push the cart up and down every isle. Make a note of all the differences. Notice the similarities, too.

34. Tune into a different radio station on your drive to and from work. If you listen to music, turn to an all news format. (Vice versa for you other folks!)

35. Test out all of the coffeehouse stores in a radius of 3 miles from your office. Make a chart that allows you to rate the taste, selection, price, atmosphere, and décor on a scale of 1 to 10.

36. Go to a 99-cent style store and buy as much non-perishable food items as you can for $10.00 – really try to stretch it. Then donate your purchases to a homeless shelter.

The idea behind all of these ideas and exercises is to get out of your rut, to break free of the same old same old.

To gain a new perspective on the way the world around you lives. And gain insight into your own life.

In every activity, be sure to reflect on how you FEEL as you are in the middle of it.

And later, reflect on your feelings.

If you experience some discomfort from being in a new place and doing something you’ve never done before, that is to be expected. It’s okay.

In fact, it’s a good thing. If you like to write, be sure to keep a journal or blog about your experiences.

Sharing will help you absorb and appreciate your new experiences. Good luck!

This is a guest post by Steven. Steven, a native of Los Angeles, is an advertising and marketing copywriter with over 20 years of writing experience in a wide range of subjects.  He writes for Next Day Flyers, the online printing company offering business cards, brochures, and other custom printed items.  An eBay addict, Steven has way too many hobbies and arcane interests – but it all makes good cocktail party conversation.

Photo Courtesy of exploreabhishek

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