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Ever struggle to come up with new creative ideas or overcome creative blocks? Ever feel on some days like your creative juices just aren’t flowing?
If you are a speaker, author, entrepreneur, artist or have a job which requires that you generate and develop new ideas (which is 90% of them now) then chances are you’ve experienced that frustration of feeling creatively blocked. It happened to me recently and I wanted to share with you the causes and how I overcame it.
For the past couple of months my team and I have have been working on our new event called International Speakers Summit. The Summit attracted over 5,000 aspiring and professional speakers from 114 countries and we had guest speakers like Jack Canfield, Sally Hogshead, Michael Port and Simon T. Bailey. The event was a lot of work but very rewarding as I was able to help lots of speakers learn how to craft their keynote talks and then market and sell their speaking.
I should also explain that every 90 days we have one main project and a number of sub-projects that myself and my team are focused on creating, selling and delivering. The Summit was the big project for that particular quarter so we put everything into it. Then at the end of each quarter we decide what projects we will focus on over the next 90 days. I really look forward to the time when we plan out the next 90 days as we review our strategy and roadmap and get creative on the next batch of 90 day goals. We then break these 90 day goals down into smaller two week sprints.
However this last 90 day planning period was tough. I sat there looking at the whiteboard and well, just didn’t feel particularly inspired or creative. Why was this? Well there were two reasons and maybe YOU have experienced these. The first was that myself and my team were a little frazzled after weeks of intense work. We needed time to ‘defocus’. The actor John Cleese describes it as switching to the open mode, a time when we are more relaxed, expansive, contemplative and purposefully unpurposeful. So one of the reasons I had felt creatively blocked was that I had been in closed mode for weeks now. Getting things done, making the calls, being active.
Now the good thing is there are lots of ways to get back into the open mode. I teach a number of these creativity techniques at C.SCHOOL, my creative business school. Three of the techniques I teach, which involve reconnecting with your body, daydreaming and changing your environment, almost immediately got my creative juices flowing again. We also had a pizza party for the team to allow us some down time together.
The second reason why I had been struggling with planning out the next 90 days was more of a challenge to resolve. I was actually experiencing what I call “options overwhelm” and it’s twin FOMO, or fear or missing out. You see the International Speakers Summit had brought with it lots of new ideas, opportunities and partnerships. There’s a concept called ‘Paradox of Choice’ made famous by psychologist Barry Schwartz which says that having too many choices can actually increase anxiety levels. Perhaps you too have experienced this feeling of being overwhelmed because of all the options you have. Here is how to deal with it.
The first is get clear on your mission. Who do you want to serve and why? Next look at the vision you have for your life in 3-5 years and ask yourself the question “what do I need to do in the next 90 days to move closer to that vision”. Then you have to reflect on how you want to serve others. For me it’s about speaking, creating online programs and live experiences. What are your top three?
Finally, and this is one of the toughest parts, its about deciding which options and goals you WILL NOT pursue, at least for now. It doesn’t matter if the ‘guru’s’ in your industry are presenting you with some bright shiny thing or silver bullet, or if you’d just read an article on the 7 things you “must do” to be successful. You don’t have to do everything. In fact you just need to do a few things really, really well.
Once I had gone through that process of giving myself time to get into an ‘open mode’ and reconnect with my mission and vision then things became much clearer and the creative juices started flowing again.
I share this with you to be transparent. I speak and teach about creativity but sometimes I also have my days when I don’t feel very inspired. It’s natural but the good news is that it’s easily fixed. You can find more ideas on how to deal with creative blocks by downloading my free ebook at http://jamestaylor.me/free
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- Overcoming creative blocks
- Open Mode and Closed Mode (John Cleese)
- Options Overwhelm
- Paradox of Choice