Friday, August 8, 2014

The Twenty Ideas Method

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A great technique to come up with our own inspiration is to set yourself a question that you’d like answered and then come up with twenty answers to that question.  It could be your key problem or your most pressing goal.  Or, just something for fun.

Don’t think too much about the answers, just write.  By asking yourself a question, your mind automatically starts generating answers.  It can't help itself!  Write down everything that comes to mind even if outlandish, as there might be a gem of an idea in that answer. 

I learned the idea from Brian Tracy and he attributed it to Earl Nightingale.  In my head I called the technique Twenty Questions but it wasn’t until ages later I realised it’s not twenty questions, it’s twenty answers… and when I re-read my original notes it was called The Twenty Ideas Method.  I do worry about myself sometimes.

The first ten are easy but the second ten not as easy, as you’d imagine.  If you start running out of ideas, look back at your answers already written and write the opposite of any that this can be applied to.  Try and get to twenty even if it's like getting blood out of a stone (Brian's words) as that's when the magic happens.

I’ve written out a number of lists so far and find them very inspiring and motivating.  They also calm me and make me feel happy.

Here is one of the questions I asked myself and the answers:

How can I live a more simple life?

1.  Have less possessions
2.  Have only those possessions that I need and that bring joy to and have meaning for me.
3.  Not require much money to be content
4.  Be less material
5.  Go to bed early
6.  Eat simple and clean foods
7.  Do not replace items once they are used up if I won’t miss them
8.  Be realistic about what crafts I want to carry on with
9.  Be realistic about what books I want in my life
10.  Be honest with others about what I want
11.  See/keep in touch with the people who are important to me more – make a list of those people, both family and friends
12.  Simplify the colours I have in my life, both home furnishings and what I dress myself in
13.  Live away from the city
14.  Live right in the city
15.  Think about something before I bring it home, even if it is just 50c at the Salvation Army
16.  Not be afraid to let go belongings from my life so they can benefit someone else
17.  Be serene and calm
18.  Enjoy the refreshing cool water we have available to us by drinking several glasses daily and having one when I feel hungry between meals
19.  Drink herbal tea
20.  Clear out the paper clutter at home and at work
21.  Be up to date with my work and spend time on the computer productively
22.  Spend less
23.  Spend more (fewer items/higher quality)

I got to 23!  I also have other questions that I’ve dreamed up such as:

What excites me most right now?
How does my perfect lifestyle look?
What do I want to be known for?
How can I use my time wisely today?

Brian says if you do a question with twenty answers each day, you’ll have thousands of new ideas a year.  Even if you do it for just one month you will have six hundred new ideas.

What is the first question that pops into mind for you?  Answers too if you’re happy to share them!


  1. Fabulous idea! Something I will definitely have to try!

  2. This is a great idea! Some of my questions:

    How can I become more content?
    What does a perfect retirement look like and how can I set it up?
    How can I make the most of this all-too-short life?

    I might have to spend some time this weekend playing this game with my journal. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. What a great idea for generating thousands of others! I'm going to borrow a couple of YOUR questions to begin with ... I'm already stimulated by your 23 answers and want to come up with at least 20 answers for myself!

  4. I really like this idea. It's a wonderful way to create possibilities. Or really to realize possibilities.

  5. You've given me so much 'nutritious' food for thought. Thank you for the inspiration!

  6. This is a fabulous idea....brainstorming a question obviously generates many possibilities.
    Like the spend less followed by spend more!

  7. Brilliant! I am going to try this exercise. My question will be - how my ideal life looks like?
    Thank you for inspiration, Fiona.

  8. Tracy, Stephanie, Janice, thank you!

    KBG, love your questions, might pinch them for myself :)

    Crunchycon, I view these answers as a jumping off point for ideas that could direct your life. The examples you gave mean you can have a good think about the pros and cons of each and how they make you feel when you imagine doing one or other. Sometimes the answer is one of those things, or it could make you appreciate where you are living right now but bring elements of city or country into your life.

    Rebecca, Madama La-bas, Karen, Marguerite, Hostess, Susie, thank you too.

    Maria, what a great question, it feels full of possibility.

    Pret a Porter P, that's so true. When it's written down you can't conveniently 'forget' about something!


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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