Feeling Stuck in Life? Try an Ideas Adventure

by Feb 11, 2014Starting Your Own Business11 comments

“I learned that it was in hard times that people usually changed the course of their life; in good times, they frequently only talked about change. Hard times forced them to overcome the doubts that normally gave them pause. It surprised me how often we hold ourselves back until we have no choice.”—Po Bronson, from his book What Should I Do With My Life?

I made the decision to change careers just hours after suffering my second miscarriage in a year.

I’d talked about my career frustrations for years, but it wasn’t until I literally had death staring me in the face that I found the courage to make a decision.

I’ve interviewed dozens of career changers, and found similar circumstances. Brian Clark waited until he almost died from a head wound. My friend Larry Warrenfelz made his leap after six rounds of cancer, two amputations, and a brain-stem stroke.

I want to spare you the agony of feeling you can’t change until life gets that bad.

It was this idea that led me to start the No Regrets Career Academy. If I could prevent just one person from having to go through a major trauma en route to their career shift, that was well worth the effort for me.

What I discovered once I started coaching clients surprised me.

Like Po Bronson in the quote above, I assumed that people needed that trauma in order to find the courage to do what they love.

But once I started coaching, I found that the real issue was that most people had no idea what they wanted to do with their life and no idea how to figure it out. They didn’t change until they were suffering because the unknown was way too scary otherwise. Basically, without something to move towards, they waited until they were forced to flee.

Anyone who’s followed me a while knows I’m big on experimentation. You can’t figure a problem this complex only in your head.

But in my experience, people often don’t do very good work in their head either.

For example, a friend of mine, Dan, was ready to retire from the Air Force as a pilot. He was good at it, he’d enjoyed his career, but over time he’d grown bored. He wanted something more.

What was he considering for his next career? A job as a commercial airline pilot.

“No way,” I said. “You must be joking. Why in the world would you pursue work as a pilot when you just got through telling me that your career as a pilot was getting stale??”

“I know, it’s crazy, right? But I’m not really qualified to do anything else. At least airline pilots don’t have to work everyday, so it will be a big improvement over what I do now. I can still have hobbies!”

This is an extreme case and I give Dan points for trying to make the best of an admittedly bad solution to his problem. You can’t fault his attitude!

Turns out, you can’t fault his brainstorming either.

When people can’t figure out what they want to do with their lives, they tend to blame themselves. They call themselves lazy or think they lack creativity.

Or if they generate lots of ideas but never follow through, they worry they lack courage or the ability to commit.

In most cases though, these kinds of self-recriminations are not only hurtful, they’re wrong.

Your problem is probably idea flow.

Idea flow is what we call an aptitude, a natural way of interacting the world that you were born with. Sounds like a personality trait, but it isn’t. It’s similar to the ability to see things in three-dimensional space or to see connections between dissimilar, unrelated ideas (called diagnostic reasoning).

Idea flow is simply the ability to quickly and consistently generate new ideas. Some people have it in abundance, some people don’t.

I want you to take just a moment here to reflect on this concept. When you felt frustrated and fed up that you hadn’t figured out what you wanted to do with your life, did it ever occur to you that you just weren’t naturally adept at consistently coming up with ideas worth pursuing?

Someone like Dan has low idea flow. This makes total sense for a pilot. Having low idea flow allows you to have superb concentration, something he benefited from most of his career. It’s just when it came time to think of a new path for himself, he simply didn’t have the ability to generate lots of new ideas.

Turns out that having a high idea flow isn’t always helpful either. For one thing, you often generate ideas faster than you can evaluate them. You get excited about an idea, start making plans in your head, and a few days later you get excited about something else.

So half the people struggle to come up with ideas, while the other half lack structure to manage the ideas they can’t turn off.

No need to worry, however. Both of those are easy to fix.

Structured brainstorming? It’s called an Ideas Adventure

When you get yourself into the right environment for exploring and evaluating new ideas, it’s pretty magical. Things just click.

I call it structured brainstorming. You need someone who can open up the possibility space for those who have low idea flow, and you need someone who can corral those with high idea flow in a productive direction.

So when I heard that the two women who I personally turn to for business advice were running a course on this very idea, I knew I had to share it with you. It’s called the Ideas Adventure, a six-week course geared specifically for those who think their next step might be to start a business of their own.

Marianne Cantwell is a good friend of mine and the author of the awesome book Be a Free Range Human: Escape the 9-5, Create a Life You Love and Still Pay the Bills. She specializes in helping people quit their day jobs and find freedom in a business they love. Marianne is idea machine. Sometimes her neurons seem to be firing so fast, I don’t know how she keeps her head on. If you are like Dan and struggle to come up with ideas, you will be in very good hands.

Selina Barker is an amazingly intuitive coach who is regularly featured in Psychologies Magazine and best-selling business books. She is all about creative structure. She knows how to dig deep, break things down into actionable steps, and keep you moving. When I am resisting doing what I know I should do, my husband hits me with, “What would Selina say?” Selina is the only coach that my husband invokes by name, knowing there can be no arguing after that.

If you’re ready to nail down a business idea of your own and actually bring it to life, even if you have zero ideas about what that could possibly be, even if you have a long history of generating and quitting ideas, you will love the Ideas Adventure.

Keep in mind, this is not a good fit for people who think they want to get another, different job or are looking to quit and replace a full-time income within a month. The point is to generate real business ideas and start generating a transition plan.

You can read all about the details of the Ideas Adventure course here. Note two very important things: 1) This is incredibly hands-on coaching. You get invaluable access to Marianne and Selina, who inspire/push/encourage you every step of the way. 2) They are offering a deep discount until Feb 13, so if you’re interested, don’t delay.

A lot of times, when we’re struggling to find our way, we tell ourselves that we just need more time or we want to do a little more research. We hope that our situation will change—and as Brian, Larry and I discovered, sometimes it will, but rarely in they way you’re hoping for.

You can take it fast or slow. You can do it on your own or with the assistance of those who have been there, done that.

Whatever method you choose, try moving towards something instead of running away.

It not only makes for a better story, it makes for a better life.



  1. I thought this program was such great idea, I asked if I could contribute to it. So if you sign up, don’t be surprised when you see a module featuring my advice on this topic. As you know, it’s near and dear to my heart too!
  2. I am  an affiliate for this course, so if you sign up through me, I will receive a commission. Since these are the very women I turn to for help with my own business, I feel 100% confident recommending them to you.