Climbing out of “Idea Debt”

Do you know what idea debt is?

If you’ve started different blogs, spent several days to get them to look exactly how you want them and then after a post or two, inexplicably seen the initial enthusiasm for your grand new idea wane away — then you have experienced idea debt first hand.

If you’ve become so enthralled about a new subject and decided from then on to invest all of your energies to learning about it and becoming the leading expert in that area and perhaps publish a few books, only to see your devotion disappear the next weekend — then you know what I am talking about.

The examples above are personal to me but idea debt is summed up as the accumulation of ideas that have seen this progression from ignited enthusiasm to sputtering ember until you are surrounded by all of the cold lumps of ashes that lay around reminding you of your inability to see a project through.

I’ve been struggling with this for years now and I don’t think I’ve completely climbed my way out of my idea debt, but I have a much better awareness of why I fall into it and I know where to start.

The first thing to realize about any project is that not all of it is going to be enjoyable, all of the time. Even if the main work is something you have a passion for, you are going to need to develop new skills and challenge yourself in ways that you didn’t realize going into it. I don’t care if your goal is to become a professional cake taster and all you want to do is get invited to judge cake baking competitions and travel around the world eating the best cake there is — there are going to be days when you are sick of cake, days when you have to judge and taste a cake where the baker felt that the broccoli and asparagus based frosting really elevated the filet mignon infused cake to a whole new level, days when you are asked to be the keynote speaker at the International Convention of Cupcakes when you are terrified of public speaking. You see where I’m going with this? Even if you find the “perfect” passion that encapsulates all of your strengths and combines all of your interests (which is impossible) you will need to do things that you had not planned on. Now, if it gets to the point that all you are doing is tasting disgusting cake, you need to start being more selective about which competitions you agree to judge. However, don’t expect your life to be a daily parade of joyful and inspiring experiences — because that is not life, that is no one’s life.

It has helped me to understand that nothing I choose to do will be easy. It is normal to experience fear, boredom, hesitation, and stagnation, but as long as I choose to do something that I like and something I am good at, it is impossible to go wrong.

P.S. For more (and better) writing on idea debt, take a look at this post at (