The million-dollar question, how can we come up with the next big idea? Maybe the trick isn’t trying to predict the future, perhaps instead it's focusing on creating something that you already want, need or wish for.
Too many times I’ve experienced that moment where I thought I had a great idea, only to Google it and find it already exists. That moment. Sigh. Back to the thinking board.
There’s not one rule for how to develop your own project – but instead many. Here are a few ideas:
1. Develop the thing you wish you had
What do you wish existed? The odds are if you think it's useful, others will too. Once you think of your wish, start brainstorming how you can make it a reality? If you hold the skills, why not start now? If your idea is more complex than your abilities, consider outsourcing the work. There are many freelancer websites, including Alibaba.com and Freelancer.com where you can engage others to make your wish come true.
2. Take your hobby or passion to the next level
If there's one thing you love to do in your spare time, think about how you can monetise this hobby and make it your day job. After all, isn't the ultimate dream to do work that you love? Steve Jobs puts it this way - "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle."
3. Learn more
When you learn, your brain has a way of adapting the new knowledge to what you already know and creating ideas that you never would have had otherwise. Learn as much as you can and stay open to new ideas being born.
4. Have a break from everything
On the other hand, when we give our brains a rest from trying to come up with the next big idea something magic can happen. Ideas can find their way to us. Elizabeth Gilbert explores this concept further in her great TED talk (below).
5. Talk with others
In the same way that learning helps to inspire idea growth, conversations with others will also spark inspiration. Stay open to new ideas when chatting with friends, family or even strangers that cross your path. It's in these moments where you could find a unique idea that you never would have found without digging further into these discussions.
6. Think about what excited you when you were a kid. If it still excites you – give it a shot
Often we hear people find their passions later in life, only to look back and realise that they also loved this activity as a kid. When we're young we have a lot less fear around exploring and undertaking our interests. What did you love when you were 5 years old? Does it still excite you now? If so - give it a go.
7. Get on board with an existing project
If you're really keen on creating a new project, and all this learning and talking and thinking and not thinking doesn't get you anywhere, why not jump on board an existing project. Maybe there's a project you wish you'd come up with first, or a dream company where you’d like to work. This can be an exciting way to trial out the forefront of an entrepreneurial life while you wait for your own idea to come along. And, if you want an idea to come to you - stay open and patient - it will. It might just take a little longer than you'd hoped.