The Greatest Threat To Your Ideas: Inaction

man holding incandescent bulb

Have you ever had one of those ideas that really has great potential, but you just haven’t started it yet? Maybe it’s a big idea, and you just haven’t found the time to work on it. News flash– your idea is going to die!

Too many great ideas have been killed by inaction. I don’t know about you, but this rings all too true for me:  I have a great idea, and because of either bad timing or circumstances, I don’t act on it. I tell myself I’ll get to it later, but when later comes, it’s too late. The idea is gone.

Fear not! There is hope– this enemy called inaction can be defeated!

Think of It Like This

Imagine ideas like they are in cartoons. When you have an idea a little light bulb appears over your head. But unlike in cartoons, as soon as you move on from the idea, without action, the light bulb begins to fall. Unless you catch the idea, and do something with it, gravity will do what it does best and bring it crashing to the ground.

shattered idea

Don’t Let Inaction Kill Your Ideas

As creative people, if we are always keeping our creative tank full with plenty of incoming sources of inspiration, we should always be churning out ideas. And to make sure that these ideas don’t die an untimely death, we must take action.

First Things First – Record the Idea

idea post-it note

The first thing you should do is write it down, type it out, record it, or by any other means save it somewhere besides your brain.

Personally, I use Evernote to capture my ideas. It allows me to record them on my phone or laptop anywhere. Then it saves the note with a geotagged location where I can add audio, video, or photos to help me remember exactly what was going on when I had the idea.

Find a way of recording your ideas that works for you. Some methods could be:

  • Notebook
  • Sticky note
  • Note app
  • Your arm
  • Leave yourself a voice-mail
  • Do a cave painting

Do whatever you find that works for you to record your ideas. This way, even if you can’t begin to act on the idea itself, you’ll be able to return to it later.

Next, Do Something

You’ll want to develop a habit of revisiting your ideas frequently. Even if you’ve recorded them, if nothing is done with them from there, they will eventually become irrelevant and stale. So once you have a minute to revisit the idea put some action to it.

If it’s an idea for a blog post, start on a draft. You don’t have to finish it. Just get it moving in the right direction. Don’t let your desire for perfection stop you from moving forward. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

If it’s a graphic, drawing, or painting– get something sketched out. Get some rough drafts on paper (or on screen) and see where it goes. Again, it doesn’t need to be a masterpiece right away. Just do something.


Random fact: Larry the Cable Guy (who made the saying above famous) actually shares my birthday– February 17th. Another guy who shares this same birthday– Michael Jordan. Can you say, “Chyeayuh!“?

Okay, back to the point.

Finish what you’ve started, even if it’s not completed.

Wait, what? Are you speaking some sort of pseudo-riddle nonsense?

Yes, I am. But hear me out before you write me off as a looney!

Sometimes I have the tendency to take way too long to complete a project (like this blog post for example). Its the plague of perfection again, and it can totally undermine the raw and organic nature of creativity.

Don’t be afraid to put something out there that is unfinished. You can always go back and refine, revamp, and tweak. Don’t let delayed execution become another way for inaction to creep in.

Action is the key. Inaction is the enemy.

Recommended reading

There is a great book that I highly recommend called “Making Ideas Happen”  [affiliate link] by Scott Belsky. The title really does say it all. If you find yourself struggling with taking ideas and turning them into reality, this book is a must have!

Have your ideas ever fallen victim to inaction? How do you fight it off?

Photo credits: Adriaan Fenwick and Kyle May via Flickr.

Dustin W. Stout Avatar

108 responses to “The Greatest Threat To Your Ideas: Inaction”

  1. Radhika Avatar

    David, A big favor. Could you please also share how to use or how you use Evernote to your best to get things done and show how did with your recent post on Google+ Circles: Making Your Online Connections More Relevant. It would be very much helpful for beginners like me starting out on Evernote. After unsuccessful attempts at keeping up with sticky notes and notes, I have just now begun using Evernote, hence the request.

  2. DustinWStout Avatar

    Thanks Dan!

  3. Dan Black Avatar
    Dan Black

    I think fear of failure causes many people not to act on their idea. But taking steps toward it are so essential when it comes to accomplishing great things. Great blog.

  4. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    Okay..I used it for a grocery list and noticed the first odd thing. It saved a new list instead of updating the one I was editing. So I guess I have some learning to do and probably some preferences to set…lol. It’s defently interesting. I like that it synchs and you have access to the stuff online in case you are away from home and maybe your phone dies…lol. Lets face it..if I am away from home I usually have my phone and my netbook so if I am going to the web option then diaster has struck. Then I need Dustin’s other post about being creative when disaster strikes…lol.

  5. DustinWStout Avatar

    Indeed Loren. I’m guilty of trusting in my own memory too much as well… and it took me too long to learn that. lol… Evernote FTW!

  6. DustinWStout Avatar

    Yea, with Evernote you can arrange things in different “Notebooks”. On top of that you can add tags, and search through your entire archive of files easily. Evernote is the bomb dot com.

  7. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    David, Evernote is a pretty handy too. Just make time for reviewing and organizing and you should be good. With apps for phones, browser plugins, and more you can clip and file away notes easily.

  8. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Evernote is amazing. I am able to send texts, email snippets, and more to Evernote with just a few clicks on my phone.

    Now I need to get better at review.

  9. Louis Tullo Avatar
    Louis Tullo

    Thanks so much for sharing such practical ways for getting dreams off the ground. I know so many people who need to be reminded of this – their dreams have value and just require a little effort to make them a reality. I know lately when I think about the gifts and talents God has given me to make dreams realities I sit in awe and am filled with gratitude … then I get up and continue to use those gifts for His glory. πŸ™‚

  10. Brandon Avatar


  11. Brandon Avatar


  12. Brandon Avatar

    Hahaha! Really, I could care less about the trees when it comes to rebuilding the economy and tapping into the resources that God has blessed America with (that America is not using)…

    But I dont like to talk about that stuff because it is nonsense! πŸ˜†

  13. Brandon Avatar

    That could be your first post! Geeks vs Nerds! haha

  14. Brandon Avatar

    Oh ok…

  15. Brandon Avatar


  16. Brandon Avatar


  17. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    Don’t let him make you feel bad…they grow back πŸ™‚ Besides, Al Gore invented them…lol.

  18. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    Okay, okay!! LOL…I guess I have to give it a I like the synch feature, but the site doesn’t give a whole lot of details in their descriptions so I guess the only way to really see if I am going to like it is to test drive it.

  19. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    Well…I think you have finally convinced me. I just downloaded Evernote and am going to install it and play with it

  20. Valerie Deveza Avatar
    Valerie Deveza

    LOL! Don’t make me feel guilty!

  21. Valerie Deveza Avatar
    Valerie Deveza

    err! I don’t know the difference? LOL! haha!

  22. Valerie Deveza Avatar
    Valerie Deveza

    Haha! don’t worry its still on your pocket it will get dry soon! πŸ˜›

  23. Valerie Deveza Avatar
    Valerie Deveza

    yeah! I think so! πŸ˜›

  24. Valerie Deveza Avatar
    Valerie Deveza

    Its an agile type of method use by geeky programmers (like me) to manage their project. Its best used for clients who loves to change their mind LOL!

  25. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    Lawerence Welch was a band leader back in the day. He also played a mean accordian. I used to sit and watch the Lawrence Welch Show with my Grandmother every week. “And a one and a two…”

    Douglas Adams is the author of A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

  26. Brandon Avatar

    Save the trees! haha

  27. Brandon Avatar

    Evernote can do all of that and beyond! I haven’t heard of any better software!

  28. Brandon Avatar

    You need to get with evernote! It has so many more options!

  29. Brandon Avatar

    Ah man! I totally made that URL up! haha

  30. Brandon Avatar

    Who are they?

  31. Brandon Avatar

    Who are those people? LOL

  32. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    Joe!! Is Harvey Korman chopped liver?? LOL Okay, I know I am not that old, but Harvery Korman surely ranks with Chris Farely πŸ™‚

    And of course the Batman fan on this page I am sure will get a kick out of Cesar

  33. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    I may look into Evernote but I find when I need to make a quick note, for example the band plays a new song at church, I will send myself a text. That way I have the info right there with me but it’s easily deleteable as soon as I download the song. If something longer hits me and I want to remind myself of a blog or something I will email it to myself because then it will be on my device and it will be on waiting on my compuuter at home when I get there and I can easily copy and paste in into a blog or a notepad for later use.

  34. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    You should look into a cool name that would fit his shoe store better than just the name and buy it then bargain a trade with him. You could use some of Dustin’s branding blogs to help teach him why he needs your URL over the name you want to properly brand it. πŸ™‚

  35. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    Congrats on the domain!

  36. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    I prefer good ole’ note pad on Windows. I can write a note then file it in whatever folder that corresponds to the subject I am writing about. I have folders for my blog, for Life Groups, for Cliques, you name it. That way when I go looking for those notes I know where to find them.

  37. Brandon Avatar


  38. Brandon Avatar


  39. Brandon Avatar

    for sure!

  40. Brandon Avatar

    Well, buy “” and ask him for a trade! πŸ™‚

  41. Brandon Avatar


  42. Brandon Avatar

    Yeah…that’s fine though…

  43. Brandon Avatar

    Awesome! You got some famous history people!

  44. Brandon Avatar

    Same here?

  45. Brandon Avatar

    I went this whole semester typing notes from class into evernote using my vizio 8in tablet!

  46. Brandon Avatar

    Evernote is awesome!

  47. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    The wash kills a lot of my papers. My notes stay in the books I read so they are safe.

  48. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Looks like is already taken. If only had been able to snag his store name. j/k

  49. Loren Pinilis Avatar

    I like the idea of a fading lightbulb. I know all too often I’ve thought that I would remember an especially creative idea. Then later I couldn’t think of it for the life of me. I’ve had to learn to capture those ideas even if I think I will absolutely remember – because there’s a good chance I won’t!

  50. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Congrats Brandon!

  51. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    I’ve thought of asking him. He uses it to redirect to his website for his shoe store.

  52. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Forgot to ask, is the difference between the WordPress interfaces or their User CP?

  53. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Chris Farley and Matt Groening. Two great comedians.

  54. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    If I stuck notes in my pocket, they would end up in the washing machine.

  55. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Never heard of the scrum method. What is it?

  56. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    I’m using Evernote too but still fail on reviewing. It is so easy to clip that I end up having a stockpile of information that is hard to sort through.

  57. DustinWStout Avatar

    Haha! Evernote to the rescue!

  58. DustinWStout Avatar

    Im telling you– Evernote is the way to go! It may be a few extra taps to get to the recorder, but the search ability and organizing ability is so worth it!

  59. DustinWStout Avatar
  60. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr me a nerd a the kid who you cheated off of in high school. The geek is the guy who bites the heads off of chickens in the sideshow at the carnival.(very old refference…LOL)

    Now a days I think a nerd is defined as the smart guy where as a geek is someone who is into technology but doesn’t necessarily have to be all that smart. After all, just because you work for Geek Squad doesn’t mean you can compute your way out of a wet paper bag. πŸ™‚

  61. Brandon Avatar

    Thanks! It’s all about the snow! haha

  62. Brandon Avatar


  63. Brandon Avatar

    Steal it from your nephew! haha

  64. Brandon Avatar

    Now you have to define the difference between a geek and a nerd…

    I hear it is an on-going debate! πŸ˜†

  65. Brandon Avatar

    Maybe just a little birthday luck?! haha

  66. skottydog Avatar

    Great suggestions here. Too many times Ive said to myself I have to write about that, only to have forgotten what the idea was hours or days later.

    I have started jotting notes down, on paper, via Evernote, and also with Notability.
    Now, the only problem is sifting through my notes to remind myself of things.

    Paper still remains the most reliable form of note-taking for me…

    …as long I remember to take them out of my pockets before they go in the wash!

  67. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    I do. But I have not found a quick and easy app to take audio notes. It seems like there are too many steps in getting to the app.

    Now, if I had a regular audio recorder, I could just hit the record button and be recording.

  68. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    I like it. Keywords are in the URL, it lets people know what you do, and it is only three words.

  69. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    So true. I had wanted or but my nephew had already purchased the first one and someone else had snagged the second.

  70. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    I thought about going with Bluehost but, for the price, Dreamhost couldn’t be beat.

    I may switch before the first year is up as I have heard a lot of people recommend Bluehost.

  71. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Lawrence Welk and Douglas Adams are two guys that would be pretty awesome to share birthdays with.

  72. Valerie Deveza Avatar
    Valerie Deveza

    its nice to get kick in the ass sometimes haha!

  73. Valerie Deveza Avatar
    Valerie Deveza

    nice site! Love the snow! πŸ˜›

  74. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    Oh…I left off the date…lol. March 11th πŸ™‚

  75. Valerie Deveza Avatar
    Valerie Deveza

    I bought a new domain last week.

    logo -> I.M Geek
    Tagline: Where geeks get social πŸ˜›

    I’m planning to change my domain name with this one and use it as my brand.

    what do you think guys?

  76. Valerie Deveza Avatar
    Valerie Deveza

    lol nov 16? haha so maybe that’s the reason why you won last month.. LOL JK!

  77. Valerie Deveza Avatar
    Valerie Deveza

    Haha.. well i have all of them stock on my little box when done. then post everything on my desk where I can see them as soon as I sit right in front of my computer!

  78. Valerie Deveza Avatar
    Valerie Deveza

    15 – Feb – 1986 Amber Riley (25)
    15 – Feb – 1976 Brandon Boyd (35)
    15 – Feb – 1971 Renee O’Connor (40)
    15 – Feb – 1967 Jane Child (44)
    15 – Feb – 1964 Chris Farley (47)
    15 – Feb – 1954 Matt Groening (57)
    15 – Feb – 1951 Melissa Manchester (60)
    15 – Feb – 1951 Jane Seymour (60)
    15 – Feb – 1931 Claire Bloom (80)
    15 – Feb – 1927 Harvey Korman (84)
    15 – Feb – 1907 Cesar Romero (104)
    15 – Feb – 1882 John Barrymore (129)
    15 – Feb – 1820 Susan B. Anthony (191)
    15 – Feb – 1809 Cyrus McCormick (202)
    15 – Feb – 1564 Galileo Galilei (447)

    LOL! Galileo, Galilei

  79. Valerie Deveza Avatar
    Valerie Deveza

    I love scrum method so I always have corkboard and sticky notes around(online and offline)

  80. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    1952 Douglas Adams (59) Author – Hithchhiker Guide to the Galaxy
    1950 Bobby McFerrin (61) Singer – Don’t Worry Be Happy πŸ™‚
    1934 Sam Donaldson (77) ABC News Anchor
    1931 Rupert Murdoch (80) Chairman/CEO of NewsCorp.
    1903 Lawrence Welk (108) Musician, Bandleader, Accordionist and my favorite on the list πŸ™‚

  81. DustinWStout Avatar

    Do you have a smartphone?

  82. DustinWStout Avatar

    I tried Dreamhost for a few weeks… Just didn’t like it. Not that there was anything I can really complain about… I just didn’t like the UI. I settled on Bluehost, and will never look back!

  83. DustinWStout Avatar

    Take my advice… buy your name. Now.

  84. DustinWStout Avatar

    Darn… should have read through all the comments before commenting… lol

  85. DustinWStout Avatar

    Yea… I’m pretty proud of my fellow birthday peeps. πŸ˜‰

    You should find out what celebrities are born on your birthday!

  86. DustinWStout Avatar

    That’s the reason I’ve gone almost paperless. Evernote is my best friend.

  87. DustinWStout Avatar

    I use sticky notes when I’m at work. The only problem is that I’ll stick them in my pocket and forget about them. Then I’ll throw them on my nightstand and let them pile up for 4 weeks. Haha!

    …but there’s something that just fun about sticky notes though, isn’t there?

  88. DustinWStout Avatar

    Glad I could help David! I’m sure you’ve got a stockpile of awesomesauce just waiting to be let out of storage!

  89. Brandon Avatar

    By the way, I jumpstarted getting a custom domain…

    I am starting out with this one to test things…

  90. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Dwight Gooden… I believe he’s an athlete.

  91. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Great to hear you’re got the domain name. Hope it helps your traffic and site!

    One thing to remember when you’re mapping back to WordPress. If I understand it correctly, your new domain name will not get the Google rankings. All the rankings and search results will be in favor of the WordPress address.

  92. Brandon Avatar

    I share a birthday with people I don’t know! haha

    16 – Nov – 1979 Trevor Penick (32)
    16 – Nov – 1977 Oksana Baiul (34)
    16 – Nov – 1967 Lisa Bonet (44)
    16 – Nov – 1964 Dwight Gooden (47)
    16 – Nov – 1952 Shigeru Miyamoto (59)
    16 – Nov – 1916 Daws Butler (95)
    16 – Nov – 1908 Burgess Meredith

  93. Brandon Avatar

    Nice! I might have to try that, but I’m not self-hosted yet.

    I am buying just a domain and then mapping it to my site first to “test the waters”.

  94. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Me too. Hope you get yours kicked into gear!

  95. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    I started using 3X5s a couple of months ago to take notes while reading. Now I need to get in the habit of filing and reviewing.

  96. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Looks like Ice-T, Kim Jong-Il, and Sonny Bono share my special day.

  97. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    You can easily find out. has a listing of famous birthdays.

  98. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Dang, it looks like we almost share a birthday. I was born on the 16th.

    And yes, I admit, my ideas fall to inaction… More so than I like to admit. To stop this, I have started taking notes, mindmapping, and trying to take audio notes(it hasn’t worked well so far).

    The note taking has really helped while reading books. I carry around a 3X5 card as a bookmark and scribble insights or quotes from the book. It is easily available and I no longer have to search for paper.

  99. Joe Lalonde Avatar

    Dreamhost offers you a domain name and unlimited hosting(of course with the standard unlimited caveats) for $9.24. It’s what I started with and have been happy so far.

  100. Brandon Avatar

    Also, for some goals, I am working on getting a custom domain for January 2012!

    The company 1and1 has some great deals right now!

  101. Brandon Avatar

    By the way, I think that it is cool that you have the same b day as Larry and Michael Jordan!

    I’m not sure who shares my birthday…haha

  102. Brandon Avatar

    Same here! I use 3×5 cards sometimes. I wrote a post on it last year here:×5-method-for-achieving-goals/

  103. Brandon Avatar

    It is a great post!

  104. Valerie Deveza Avatar
    Valerie Deveza

    I’m a big fun of sticky notes. You’ll find tons of it on my table and desktop! LOL! It’s my way to capture my ideas and get things done.

  105. David Willard Jr Avatar
    David Willard Jr

    Awesome post! I have lost more than my share of creative work to inactivity. I also have work sitting idle in files growing stale because I don’t have good habits in place to revisit things that need to be completed. Perhaps this post is what I needed to kick start the creative flow πŸ™‚

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