5 reasons why you should use expiration dates for ideas
Ideas have a shelf life. Create urgency when pitching your creative thinking.
Some ideas never get old, while others lose their value rather quickly. And no, I'm not talking about that idea you text to your manager -- something that seemed like a great idea at the time -- but that you'll regret in the morning. I'm talking about ideas you have researched, worked hard to develop -- ideas that seem too good not to share. Before you run to your manager or send to your CEO, think about providing a "time context" for your idea – an "expiration" or "best if used by" date. Here are some reasons why:
#1 Things change
The most obvious reason is because things change. Life happens. The world is ever-evolving and trends change with the wind. Your ideas must, too. Adaption is the key to success. Sometimes that means your idea might have a "seasonal component". You might be forced to toss your old ideas and start from scratch, even if the idea is just 90 days old. Your idea to market the company as the "fastest in the world" might only last a short while, as your competitor just got faster. When brainstorming new ideas give thought to how time-sensitive that light bulb moment might be.
#2 Make room for new ideas
If you acknowledge that even great ideas can get stale, you will learn to let go. Sometimes you can get so hung up on an idea that you can't see anything else. You know that feeling… you are in a meeting, you and your co-workers seem to be talking in circles. No one can find that solution you need, or a strategy that might work. The problem isn't being out of ideas, it's hanging on to the old ones. It clutters your "mental cupboard". Once you've gotten rid of "expired" ideas, you'll notice new ideas will come to the surface. Your meetings will be productive again.
#3 New insights cause ideas to become old
Sometimes you read the paper, talk to a friend or watch a movie and something just clicks within you. You see things in a different way. New insights can make current thinking look irrelevant or outdated. Fresh insights prompt you to change your perspective, toss out the old, and come up with beautiful new ideas.
#4 New opportunities arise
Holding on to old ideas is not a good idea when they get in the way of new opportunities. Whether it is an exciting new project, a new hobby, or a job offer you weren't seeking, being open means you have let a certain amount of current thinking expire. This makes room for new thinking, novel approaches, and innovative solutions.
#5 Your old ideas might be holding you back
Do you often feel like you're stuck or unable to move forward with your life? It might be time to take a look at those old ideas. Check the "best used by" dates. My guess is many are well past their peak. Try to understand how many ideas you can retain and make actionable. Ideas can be like that storage closet filled with all your good stuff. At some point you'll need to clear it out to make room for more good stuff.
It is always a good idea to examine your ideas before acting on them. Figure out if they are still relevant, if there aren't any better ideas out there. Of course, some ideas don't ever lose their value. Most, however, have an expiration date – whether you see it or not.