20 Ways to Improve

A simple yet powerful idea I learned from Earl Nightingale is to grab a blank piece of paper (or a blank computer screen) and brainstorm a list of 20 ways to improve. You can write down anything — ways to increase your income, improve your health, better your relationships, etc. The focus is on generating ideas to make your life better. I find this usually takes 30-60 minutes, and I like to do it first thing in the morning before breakfast. If you do it every day for a week, you generate 140 ideas. It’s OK to generate more than 20 ideas per session, but 20 is the minimum to shoot for.

The first 10 ideas will usually come quickly. The next 5 take a bit more effort, and the last 5 really force me to think. Most ideas tend to be junk, unworkable for one reason or another, but often it’s idea number 19, 20, or 21 that turns out to be golden. The best ideas are those that are very simple but which have a decent positive impact.

Instead of “20 Ways to Improve,” you can also brainstorm with a more specific intent, like “20 Ways to Generate Extra Income” or “20 Ways to Increase Productivity.” And if you’re an office manager, try having all of your employees generate 20 ideas to improve operations, increase sales, improve morale, etc. One good idea can easily be worth the time investment, not to mention the eye-opening effect of reading everyone’s ideas. Many managers offer small cash bonuses ($5-50) for good ideas that end up being implemented.