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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

What to Do When You're Just Not That Into an Idea Anymore

Whether it’s a business idea, PR initiative, or social media campaign, getting an awesome idea fully fleshed out and organized into an executable plan is always tedious, no matter how much you love it.

But what happens when, after all those hours logged, Word drafts saved, and hair pulled out, you don’t actually love the idea anymore?

In our execution-obsessed culture, it can be really hard to pump the brakes—especially if money has been spent, executives have been briefed, and time is ticking. But paying attention to that creeping feeling may be your smartest business decision yet. Why? Because if something feels wrong about it, it probably is.

The good news? That feeling doesn’t necessarily mean you need to trash the whole idea. If you’re feeling a little wobbly about a plan in action, here are four ways to get to the root of what’s gone wrong—and how to get back on track.

1. Dig Out the Nugget

Forget the millions of Word docs you’ve created—when you first thought of the idea, what excited you about it most? What were you hoping to accomplish? How would your company have benefitted?

Sometimes, we get so obsessed with the brainstorming and planning phase that we lose the essence of why we thought it was such an awesome idea to begin with.

Once you’re clear on the why—and, just as importantly, on what you want to end result to be—go back to your plans. What can you salvage? What needs to go? Be ruthless.

2. Bring in External Counsel

There’s something really amazing that happens when people come together to execute on an idea. In the beginning at least. And then? It can be mayhem. When you work really closely with the same people on an idea you all really care about, you tend to adopt a group narrative about the project—it’s a phenomenon called groupthink. You tell and re-tell one another the same stories about why you’re doing things the way you’re doing them, why doing it differently wouldn’t work, and why it’s the most awesome project ever (even when it doesn’t feel that way).

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s time to bring in someone who can offer an honest, external perspective. Just be sure you all agree on that person, so that everyone in the group will value—and listen to—his or her opinion.

3. Go Do Something Else

Seriously. Go to the movies. Plan a weekend trip. Binge watch the new season of Orange is the New Black.

I don’t know about you, but when I feel like something isn’t quite right, my first reaction is to want to solve the problem. Which means overthinking. In this case, resist that urge, and do the opposite. Run away from the idea for a few days, then come back to it with fresh eyes. Does it still feel wrong? If so, can you more clearly identify where that feeling is coming from?

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Scrap It

Worst case scenario, you may need to trash the whole thing. I know, it makes you nauseous just thinking about it. But maybe it also makes you a little relieved—because now, you don’t have to work so hard on something you don’t really care about or believe in anymore. Which leaves room for you to start working on that other idea that started bubbling up a few weeks ago.

Remember: Throwing in the towel doesn’t mean defeat. It means you’re creating space for something better.

Telling your psyche that you don’t feel a certain way isn’t actually going to make you feel any differently. So, the next time that something-isn’t-quite-right feeling bubbles up, don’t get mad or feel guilty. Instead, try to figure out what it’s trying to tell you. If you listen, whatever it is you’re trying to create will only be better for it.

Photo of light bulbs courtesy of Shutterstock.