By Joe Boyd
Springtime always stimulates new ideas for me. But I’ve learned I should pursue only some of them.
There is something about springtime that makes all things new. Winter can be a cold and gray marathon to endure, especially for those of us on the East Coast and in the Midwest. But then comes life. Every April and May I find myself full of new ideas.
And I should say that I love new ideas. They are like catnip for my soul. As a movie producer, I have no shortage of people pitching story ideas to me. Some of them are quite interesting. I want to pursue more of them than I should.
I needed to create a system to help me determine when a new idea is worth investing my time and resources. I came up with these five questions I ask myself almost every day. Maybe they can help you if you find yourself itching to do something new this spring.
Five questions to ask when you encounter a new idea:
1. Is this new idea consistent with my life mission?
The older I get, the clearer my purpose becomes. I want to partner with others to tell stories that spark hope in the world. Some new ideas sound fun or profitable, but they don’t help me get there. I may still indulge in a new idea that is “off mission,” but with the realization that it probably won’t last when more integrated ideas come around.
Off-mission ideas are a form of creative adultery. If you flirt long enough with new ideas that aren’t true to the core mission of your life, you will eventually find yourself cut off from what you know you’re called to do.
2. Can this new idea be absorbed into a current idea?
Some new ideas fit perfectly into something I am already doing or dreaming about. If a new idea fits into a current idea, it jumps way up the list of possibilities for me. At that point, it is less of a new idea and more an answer to a question I didn’t even know to be asking.
3. Will I be frustrated if this idea is wildly successful?
I have learned to say no to new ideas that seem interesting only if they aren’t successful. For instance, I recently turned down an audition for a regular role on a TV series. (I’m also an actor.) I would have gladly read for a smaller part in this show, but had I actually landed a regular role in the series, it would have disrupted everything good in my life now. It would have been a massive distraction. Ten years ago it would have been my dream job, but I had to remind myself that it’s not the main thing I want to do anymore.
4. Who do I know who could better serve this idea than me?
I used to think, “Who do I know who can help me do this idea?”
Now I think more about gifting the idea to someone who can bring it to life with or without my help. Both of us usually end up a lot happier this way.
5. Will I regret not following this idea?
The projection of a future state of regret is a defining factor in how I make decisions. If I look into my future and know I will constantly be asking, “Why didn’t I pursue that idea?” then it’s a problem. When it comes to my creative and professional life, I’d pick regretting doing something over regretting doing nothing every single time.
For those of us in ministry, whether vocationally or as a volunteer, deciding when and when not to pursue a new idea can have real and everlasting consequences in the lives of those we serve. Ultimately, through prayer and meditation, God gives us wisdom to lead. Hopefully these five questions can help you the next time you find yourself discerning whether to say yes or no to a new opportunity.
Joe Boyd is founder and president of Rebel Pilgrim Productions, Cincinnati, Ohio.