by: Jan Marie Dore
To stay competitive in the world of work today, you must use your imagination and creativity. These innate gifts have the potential to give us an edge in business and in life, yet we are often blocked and fail to accomplish the projects we intend to.
Creativity is one of the most essential of human talents. You have all the creativity you need to accomplish your goals. Your creative ideas provide you with tools for meeting challenges and coping with adversity.
Creativity means, by definition, change. There is often strong resistance to change, so it is natural that barriers would be in our way. There are inner and outer obstacles eclipsing your creative process and projects. How do you unblock the creativity within you? Here are ten specific obstacles to creative success in business, and some ideas to overcome them.
~ROADBLOCK 1 – Lack of Vision
Many people think too small about what they can potentially accomplish. They stay inside the comfort zone of what they imagine is currently possible for them. They fail to use their imagination to think bigger about possibilities, and don’t expect a positive outcome.
Think Big! Sharpen your visionary skills. Take time to dream, to visualize a positive outcome, and to develop a strong compelling vision for what you want to create. Write our your vision as if it were happening right now in the present, and get in touch with the emotions and sensations you feel once you imagine your vision accomplished. Make a mind-map to capture all your big ideas. Create a ‘Vision Canvas’ – a collage that represents your vision – by placing images and words on paper.
~ROADBLOCK 2 – Lack of Inspiration
Many people say they are waiting for inspiration before they start a creative project. It’s often a long wait!
Surround yourself with inspiration. Be open to the inspiration that is all around you, moment to moment. Savor everyday wonders, and carry a journal with you to capture random ideas. Go places that spark your imagination, for example, art galleries, museums, or live theatre, music or dance events. If you’re stuck looking for a solution, go do something completely different. When Einstein got stuck on a difficult concept, he would often go into another room to play his violin. A solution would often come to mind when he returned to the problem. Exercising his mind in a different way boosted his creativity for the work he was doing.
~ROADBLOCK 3 – Procrastination
Procrastination, the habit of putting tasks off to the last possible minute, can be a major problem in business. Missed opportunities, frenzied work hours, stress, overwhelm, resentment, and guilt are just some of the symptoms.
Thinking of a task as one big whole that you have to complete will virtually ensure that you put it off. Break your projects into small tasks, and take action on those. Thinking that you absolutely have to do something is a major reason for procrastination, so give yourself permission to not do anything you really don’t want to do. Even though there may be serious consequences, you are always free to choose. Procrastination becomes less likely on tasks that you openly and freely choose to undertake.
~ROADBLOCK 4 – Overcommitted & Overwhelmed
Overwhelm can be described having too much to do, or perceiving that what you have to do is too much. Distractions rob us of the productive use of time and contribute to the feeling of overwhelm. Saying yes to every request made of you and taking on too many responsibilities can quickly lead to burnout.
Creativity needs time and space to flourish. Slow down and reduce your commitments. Learn to say no. Make a short list of what is important to you that you will say yes to, and say no to everything else. Give your mind time to wander.
~ROADBLOCK 5 – Clutter
Clutter is often a symptom of unfinished business, indecision, procrastination, and disorganization. It represents the past. Creativity is in the future.
Maintain an inspiring, uncluttered environment that is supportive of your work. Create a space for your creative work separate from where you pay your bills and have responsibilities so that your creative imagination can flourish.
~ROADBLOCK 6 – Unbalanced Thinking
Men and women create differently. Men typically create in a linear, step by step fashion, while women create in a more holistic, spiral fashion. Men tend to start with A and end at Z, while women see the whole picture all at once, then sort out the details in a random order.
Become aware of your preferred style of thinking and creating. Balance linear thinking with holistic thinking. Balance imagination with strategy. Balance left brain thinking with right brain activities.
~ROADBLOCK 7 – Confusion and Indecision
Too many ideas, so little time! Often we have competing ideas or goals. Many times, we have conflicting intentions which tend to cancel each other out – for example, wanting to have more business while also wanting more free time. The effect is that nothing happens, and we can’t decide which one to choose.
Focus your intent and energize your will to make clear choices, prioritize, and get into action. Train your mind and wise inner self to find the answers you already have inside. Trust your intuition; it will always lead you to the next right action. Prioritize, choose, act.
~ROADBLOCK 8 – Isolation
Creative people are often alone with their vision and ideas. Creativity can’t exist in a vacuum.
When you feel alone on your path, remember that you can share your journey. Support from others is key for brainstorming, inspiration, encouragement, and accountability. Share your ideas with positive people. Connecting with other creative souls jump starts your creativity faster than anything else.
~ROADBLOCK 9 – Negative Mind Chatter
Doubts, fears, anxieties, worries, and other negative thoughts hinder the creative mind.
There are many strategies to get unstuck when the inner critic comes knocking on your door. Befriend this negative voice in your mind. Replace negative or unconscious thoughts through practices designed to tap your creative forces. Try to release self-judgment or criticism while in creative moments. Give yourself permission to fail. Shift your thinking from ‘I’m not a creative person’ to ‘I bring creativity and imagination to everything I do’.
~ROADBLOCK 10 – No Clear Plan of Action
Vague thinking or no thought given to a plan or project timeline or to the small goals that could bring you closer to your big creative goal will stop creative action in its tracks.
Create a simple plan of action, give yourself a deadline, and hold your self accountable to the commitments you make to yourself.
You can learn to rely on your creativity to improve the quality of your life and business. Taking action on any one of the above items will get you on the path to completing the things that really matter to you and to finishing your most meaningful, creative projects.