Discover more from Designing Futures
Boost Your Energy by Remembering The Fresh Idea Feeling
My Experience with Plateaus and How to Overcome Them
Hey everyone, welcome to Designing Futures. I’m Josh and every week, I simplify and share practical design and UX guides for Indie hackers, founders and product teams on taking ideas from zero to one.
This week, I'm sharing a short personal reflection on how I mentally overcame a plateau in growth, something many of you may have experienced in your current projects or businesses.
Whether you're working on a startup, thinking of starting one, or managing a side project, we all hit mental walls at some point. We can either let them consume us, or we can figure out how to work through them and move forward.
I hope this week's story helps you to do just that.
After enjoying some steady initial growth, hitting a four-day stretch with zero new subscribers felt hard. It's easy to spiral into thoughts like:
There's no one left interested in my work
I've shown all my cards, and now everyone's seen them
Maybe I've already failed
It feels like I’ve hit a wall
Thankfully, I'm lucky enough to have an amazing partner who slapped some sense into me and reminded me of a stupidly obvious truth—I'm still at the starting line.
The newsletter hasn't been running for that long. I have so many ideas and lessons I can simplify from my experience to provide value to founders, indie hackers, and product people. My passion for helping people bring their ideas to life fuels me.
I spent three years procrastinating on this project, and the growth chart says it all. The moment I took action, things started moving.
People ask me what changed. The real shift was finally gathering the courage to put my ideas and voice out there. I shelved my self-doubt and started sharing my insights and experiences.
You know that feeling when you have a fresh new idea bursting out of you? Those moments where nothing else matters. Those moments where you need to pause whatever you're doing and start jotting down thoughts—because deep down, you know you either have to save it or share it with the world.
I like to think of this as the fresh idea feeling.
Why do fresh ideas feel so good?
It's not just emotional, the moment your brain sparks a new idea that resonates with you, it showers you with dopamine1.
This surge can even catapult you into a flow state, where time seems to blur and your creativity takes the wheel2. Our brains are wired to love novelty, and new ideas feel like finding hidden treasure3.
It's a beautiful blend between biology and psychology that not only fuels your creativity but also your happiness. The fresh idea feeling serves as a form of cognitive reevaluation, helping you manage stress by shifting your perspective4.
How can we keep ideas fresh?
The other day, while cycling and listening to one of my favourite podcasts, a fresh idea popped into my head. It reminded me of how I felt when my partner talked some sense into me. The fresh idea feeling shouldn't just exist in that initial spark; its glow should extend for months.
A plateau becomes a forever-state only if we let doubt creep in. When we have fresh ideas, we lack the feeling of failure because it hasn’t materialised yet. By reminding myself that I'm still in the early stages, I can fuel new creative energy into my project and serve the audience I know needs my writing—the ones who've told me so and whom I'm excited to help.
The trick is to persevere even when we feel like giving up, because it’s likely that some success or small progress, is just around the corner.
I'm 3 months in—It's time to continue feeling excited.
What idea is still early for you?
Take action: Overcoming procrastination leads to progress, as my chart shows.
Plateaus are temporary: Don't view a growth stall as failure.
Fresh ideas: The initial buzz from a new idea can serve as long-term motivation.
Mindset matters: A shift in perspective can reignite passion for your original idea.
Stay early, stay excited: Remembering you're in the project's early stages can reignite your energy.
See you next week,
Josh (@joshuanewton1) 🔮
Thanks for reading Designing Futures! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work 🔮
Flaherty, A. W. (2005). Frontotemporal and dopaminergic control of idea generation and creative drive. The Journal of Comparative Neurology, 493(1), 147-153.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience
Bunzeck, N., & Düzel, E. (2006). Absolute coding of stimulus novelty in the human substantia nigra/VTA. Neuron, 51(3), 369-379
Troy, A. S., Wilhelm, F. H., Shallcross, A. J., & Mauss, I. B. (2010). Seeing the silver lining: cognitive reappraisal ability moderates the relationship between stress and depressive symptoms. Emotion, 10(6), 783