How do you get breakthroughs?
If I was to ask you about the last challenge you had and how you pushed through it, what would you say?

Whether you write fiction like me, work in marketing, are a programmer, play and write music, or are in a hard relationship, it probably hasn’t been a long time since you faced a challenge and needed a break through. Having struggles and getting breakthroughs is a part of living.

Recently, I’ve been stuck on a work of fiction. This happens from time to time because I write a lot. If I was to narrow my problem to one aspect of writing, it is plotting stories. This is incredibly hard for me. Well, today I had a breakthrough. Got me to thinking how did it happen and what was I doing wrong?
I think when I have a problem I usually hold onto it so closely that I fail to examine the problem from a different perspective. It makes sense that you can’t really see a problem when it’s so close to you.

Of course I did some research, stared at the blank page on the computer, and did a host of other things before I had the aha moment. Then I got in the flow. Everything was clicking… and boom breakthrough.

So what are some principles we can all apply to help us push through struggles?

You might swear by religion or faith.
Meditation might be your thing.
Maybe you think communication and asking other people is the answer.

Here are a few tips I picked up that applied to my problem from a website.

FOLLOW YOUR FASCINATION

Do what fascinates you. If you find yourself fascinated by a new idea, chances are good that there’s something meaningful about it for you to consider.

IMMERSE

Immersion — the act of becoming completely involved or absorbed in something — engrossed, enthralled, or preoccupied.”

Success comes when we are totally immersed and following what fascinates us.

TOLERATE AMBIGUITY

Be prepared for failure. Failed attempts are often steps in the right direction or reveal what not to do again. Breakthrough ideas are not always the result of a Eureka moment. On the contrary, they are often the result of an evolutionary series of approximations or failed experiments.

11edison.1.600.jpg

When Thomas Edison was asked how it felt to fail 800 times before coming up with tungsten as the filament for the light bulb, his answer was a revealing one.

“Fail?” he said. “I didn’t fail once. I learned 800 times what didn’t work.”

MAKE NEW CONNECTIONS

This is the research part of breakthroughs. You have to put the time in on research so that you can make new connections. True creativity rarely happens in a vacuum. On the contrary it is the product of two or more variables connecting in a new way.

DEFINE THE RIGHT CHALLENGE
What exactly is the problem? This is the most important question.

“It’s not that they can’t find the solution,” said G.K. Chesterton, the renowned American philosopher and writer, “They can’t find the problem!”

TAKE A BREAK

Napping is allowed. Let the problem rest. If you want a breakthrough, you will need to take a break.