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The one thing you never see on page one of the Wall St. Journal is the headline, "Stocks sink for 56th consecutive day; All new ideas out window, as well." 

But it's true. When times are crappy, motivation is...well, the same. It sometimes can feel worse if you have a job. You are still getting by--there's no proverbial wolf at your door to kick-start you into a new idea phase. So you go--day in, day out. And you become complacent, which leads to stagnation, which leads to eventual failure. 

Bet you never thought you could blame your lack of ideas on the NASDAQ, did you? 

That said, I present a few ideas on ways to avoid stagnation. Ways to avoid falling into the world of mediocrity. Ideas to jump-start your imagination, your creative idea process, and launch your brain back into high gear.

These ideas don't cost a lot of money, don't involve a swami or a really big mountain, and can usually be done in an afternoon, if not an hour or so. 

First: Stand up. (Then jump around.) Sitting in front of your computer and staring at the screen until blood droplets form on your forehead is not the way to get new ideas. Put IM on "Away mode," shut off the monitor, and walk away from the computer.

Then, put on a t-shirt, a pair of shorts, and some running shoes. Go for a walk. 

It's been proven that upping endorphins opens up the blood vessels, which leads to clearer thinking. Well, I don't have the research in front of me, and I don't actually know that it's been proven, but it certainly sounds logical, right? And it works for me, whenever I need it to. 

Bad day? Go for a run. Need a change but don't know what it needs to be? Stairmaster. Can't figure out how to get a client to understand that you're right and they're so most obviously wrong? Bench press.

The key is to get your heart pumping, get moving and motivated, and head back into the office with a fresh start from your brain. It really works.  

Overcome a fear, and stagnation goes out the window. What scares you? I mean really scares you? I'm not talking about no wussy "fear-factor" scares, I'm talking REAL FEAR.

Simply do it. Whatever it is, do it. I keep a fear-tip-jar in my office, and every day, I dump excess change, a single or two, whatever I have around, into that jar.

When it gets to the point where I feel like I'm dragging, or starting to stagnate, or simply losing it, I grab all that money and find something scary. So far, I've skydived, SCUBA-dived, rock-climbed, bungee-jumped, and done a 180 in a modified police car while clocking 120 miles an hour.

The incredible rush you get from that which makes your mother wince is sometimes exactly what you need to pull your creativity back from the brink of doom. 

Talk to a child, think like a child. Did it ever occur to you that a six-year-old doesn't worry about the stock market? Or whether or not the Fed is going to raise interest rates, or whether another 20,000 layoffs are coming? Ever try to figure out why? 

Children live in the moment. Children don't understand the worry of anticipation, or the trauma of the "potential." Children know what's going on because they're seeing it happen in front of their eyes, and nowhere else. Talk to a child, think like a child. 

How to do it: Find a child. Your own. A neighbor's kid, a brother's kid--they're all around you. Find one. Explain to the parents that you're more than willing to watch the kid for a few hours, giving the parent a well-deserved chance to relax and enjoy pampering themselves at the local mall. 

Turn off the cell phone. Turn off the pager. Turn off the computer. Get down on the floor with your little charge, and play with them. Do what they want, whether it's having imaginary tea, or taking the Matchbox cars through the imaginary car wash. Ask questions! Ask them why the purple car is going before the red car--the answers will amaze you! Remember them: They work in real life, too! 

These are simple solutions. But they all have a common theme--the theme of doing something different. The fact is, we get rutted into a formal daily grind. It takes it's toll on us, whether we know it or not. Every day, same thing.

Add in a bad economy, or a mass layoff, and you're staring doom and depression in the face. The only way to beat it is to do something out of the ordinary. Something unexpected. Something that wakes you up with a violent shake and says "Yo! Time to get off your ass!" 

And it works. Trust me. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

image of Peter Shankman

Peter Shankman is the founder of The Geek Factory Inc., a marketing and customer service agency with clients worldwide. His third book, Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Out, and Collaboration Is In, hit stores on April 2, 2013. Reach him via peter@geekfactory.com.

Twitter: @petershankman
LinkedIn:  Peter Shankman


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