One of my favorite tools to use when working on your goals and coming up against an obstacle that you don't know how to overcome is the worst idea ever.
Let me explain. When we are stuck, our brains are going over the same material. You're a smart woman. You've already thought of all the ways it won't work. You've probably tried a variety of methods to solve your problem. When they haven't worked, you've given your mind "proof" that the problem is hard to solve. In that mental space, you are stuck.
You've gone through all the good ideas, so let's do the opposite and come up with the worst ideas.
These ideas could include:
Ideas that would achieve the opposite
Ideas that are over the top and impractical
Ideas based on resources or technology that doesn't exist
Ideas that go against convention
Ideas that have a significant flaw in logic
Even more fun – have your spouse or friends help you come up with terrible ideas.
I challenge you to write down your problem and then list 20 or more intentionally bad ideas – the worse, the better. Here's an example:
Problem: How can I help my child get to bed without losing my mind?
Have no bedtime
Skip the whole bedtime routine
Yell every step at him
Stand by him, hovering until he does every step
Don't let him sleep in his bed if he doesn't do his routine
Feed him lots of sugar at bedtime
Hire a babysitter to do the bedtime routine
Let him watch TV until he falls asleep
Make it a competition between him and his sister
Don't make him shower for days
Get him ugly pajamas he has to wear if he's not ready for bed on time
Blast obnoxiously loud music until he does what he's supposed to
Go to bed before him
Make every part of his bedtime routine related to legos somehow
Have a bedtime app that earns him points for doing his routine (that's actually a good idea)
Let him sleep all day and stay up all night
Have a cannon shot announce when the bedtime routine starts
Make bedtime routine into scavenger hunt every night
Make him put me to bed instead
(That was my solo attempt to get 20 bad ideas. I think I could have done better with help from others.)
Unexpectedly, you may have noticed that you thought some of the "bad" ideas were good. It's funny how that happens, leading us to the next step.
After you have all the bad ideas as inspiration, see if you can flip each into a decent idea. Challenge yourself to create one or more genuine ideas from each bad idea. Are any of your bad ideas actually good?
This style of brainstorming – the worst idea ever – is just one of many tools you can use to break through, create new ideas, and open up to moving forward when you feel stuck.
Next time you are with your girlfriends, try it out. As moms, we have lots of similar problems. Ask your friends to give you their worst ideas for solving your current problem. You'll probably laugh a lot, come up with some extremely terrible ideas and open your mind up to some solutions that will work.
Liedtka, J., Ogilvie, T. & Brozenski, R. (2014). The Designing for Growth Field Book: A Step-by-Step Project Guide. Columbia Business School Publishing. ISBN-10: 023116467X; ISBN-13: 978-0231164672