A friend was telling me the other day how she often has ideas suddenly occur to her about solutions to problems or things she ought to do but then the moment passes. She said sometimes she follows through but more often she forgets her idea, or cannot bring it back to mind with the same degree of enthusiasm or energy.
My friend’s predicament is not uncommon. The question is, what to do so the insight is not lost. A coaching colleague of mine captures it brilliantly when she says “Never leave the scene of an insight without setting an action in place”. You might prefer an older adage … “strike while the iron is hot”.
Part of the challenge is that these gems of ideas, insights or eureka moments often spring to mind suddenly while we are doing something other than thinking about the relevant issue. Think Archimedes taking his bath! This is because when a problem has been mulling around in our head for a while, in the subconscious, the brain suddenly makes new neural connections which deliver that insight or eureka moment. When the insight suddenly comes to front of mind we experience a buzz of energy as neurotransmitters, such as adrenalin, are released in our brain. The adrenalin gives us a short burst of energy and we might also get a rush of other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin which make us feel good, giving us a sort of pleasurable warm glow! The energy generated at the moment of an insight puts us into a motivation phase which is fine if we are, say, in front of our computer and can get right onto the task but often this is not the case. Unfortunately the motivation that is stimulated following an insight passes quickly. The flow of neurotransmitters ebbs away. Within an hour we may have almost totally forgotten the idea.
What to do? The trick is to recognise the insight and be aware that the motivation will soon subside. If you are not in a space to immediately put your idea into motion at least jot down a few of the details of the insight while it is fresh and alive. Capture the details on a bit of paper or in the notes section of your smartphone as quickly as you can and include a note as to when you will come back to the idea and start action (not one day in the future but a specific day and perhaps time). This simple strategy will help in ensuring your good ideas become a reality.
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