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How to not come up with good ideas

Nathan M
4 min readFeb 11, 2022


I’d like to say that I know how to come up with brilliant ideas. That I have some secret model for always coming up with the best ideas ever. I don’t.

But I have learned about things that I shouldn’t do to come up with good ideas. Here’s a few:

1.Expect your idea to be brilliant from the get-go

Often times, we destroy an idea very quickly because it initially seems bad to us. But there’s a problem with that. As Pete Docter puts it, Walt Disney didn’t just wake out of bed one day and think “Dumbo.” That story took time to flesh out and craft. Just like all ideas.

Good ideas take time to be fully fleshed out. They require a safe space where it’s flaws can be addressed. Now I don’t know how you filter ideas, but I do know, that ideas need a safe space for them to get good.

2. Stare at a computer all day

I spent about two hours yesterday doing exactly this. While the sun slowly rose in the sky, I was staring at my computer expecting a brilliant blog article to come to fruition.

We all do this. We stare at our computer, into the abyss, while our head slouches in our hands as we continuously stare at the problem we’re trying to solve. Hoping, begging, that a good idea will somehow come. But it doesn’t.

Starting at a computer will never cause a good idea. It just makes your eyesight worse. Straining yourself mentally by thinking about something over and over, never does anything good.

3. Compromise

This seems a bit contrary, but often times, a mediocre idea happens because everyone’s vision of success collides. No one agrees on what to do, so everyone compromises, and in the end, instead of a brilliant idea, you get a mediocre one.

Compromise has somewhat of a negative connotation. For many people, it’s often synonymous with settling for less. This is not true. A compromise should mean a win-win. Both sides get what they want as the best of each side is taken and formed into one brilliant idea.

If this isn’t possible, both sides probably need to split up. A compromise that no one likes has historically not led to good things.

And I will say, not always, but often, there’s another idea, different than what everyone wants, that ends up being the best idea yet. It just takes time to get there.

4. Not allowing yourself to relax

They say boredom allows for good ideas to come to life. And to be bored, well you have to be relaxed. You can’t be stressed out and bored.

Sometimes just sitting on a couch, without thinking about anything, allows for the subconscious mind to do some processing, and good ideas to come to life. This could also mean taking a walk, but that’s probably not boring. The point is you need to allow yourself to relax.

5. Do something you don’t care about

There are so many times in our lives where we’ve gone with an idea that we didn’t like for a vast number of reasons. To run with an idea, you need to commit to it. And it’s a lot easier to commit to an idea, if you care about it. So, try to find ideas that you’re actually invested in.

6. Come up with ideas for the sake of completion

I recently found myself in a problem. My goal was to have 10 solid articles and I was currently at 7. I had two days left to get 3 more articles in. The problem was that I didn’t have any fleshed-out ideas for those 3 other articles. I didn’t have anything.

After staring into the abyss for a while, my desperation eventually led to me getting 3 more ideas and I quickly outlined them. But while typing the outline into complete sentences, I realized that the quality of these articles could be problematic. I wasn’t confident that I was putting my best work out there.

I’m starting to realize that maybe a person can tell when ideas are good versus when there are just ideas for the sake of completion. How? The quality differs. When you come up with ideas for the sake of completion, there’s a high chance that they’re not going to be good.

Ideas don’t always just come by themselves, but that doesn’t mean you force them either.

7. Don’t take risks

Risks should either be calculated, or the entity should have the ability to recover if something fails. But not taking any risks is a sure way to not come up with good ideas. A good idea is usually almost risky and requires constant innovation. Often times, the most successful companies were the ones who took a risk that everyone disagreed with.

There are also companies who did that and drastically failed, but there’s usually external factors or luck that caused that,

8. Don’t put constraints on yourself

It’s common these days to hear constraints can lead to creativity. But usually, these constraints are due to circumstance.

There’s a huge loss in people not imposing their own constraints on themselves. This could be deadlines, budget, etc.

The point is constraints are powerful. We don’t need to wait for the external world to impose them on ourselves. We can impose them ourselves.

9. Not trying different things

Ideas are often the culmination of several unexpected things coming together to form something brilliant. If you don’t try different things, seek new experiences, look at things from a different perspective, I can guarantee that you’ll come up with idea that others have already come up with.

There’s no such thing as a completely original idea. Creativity is fusion. So, try fusing different things together and see what you get. Coming up with bad ideas doesn’t cost anything. But running with a mediocre idea, costs a lot. So, do different things.



Nathan M