There I sat, at my desk, staring at the blank page of an open Word document, trying to suppress the building tension that would only further inhibit my lack of creativity and motivation. I had already checked my email, folded the laundry, walked the dogs, and had breakfast (…and a snack). The clock was ticking, and the presentation I had committed to give in two weeks wasn’t going to write itself. But my mind was blank. What’s wrong with me? Arg!
This scenario has repeated itself many times over the years as I’ve tackled various commitments, everything from presentations to blog articles to client reports, yet I’ve never missed a major deadline, and I’ve been proud of my final work more often than not. The hard part is getting started and finding the flow (and overcoming the paralyzing fear that I won’t, ever).
I thought this was something I was just going to have to live with as a consultant, speaker and creator of content. I’ve beaten myself up pretty harshly all along the way, not just for my difficulty getting going but also for my struggle with projects that others would love to have on their plate. Surely those people would relish these opportunities and tackle them, one after the other, with a creative gusto!
Then one day, I encountered a breakthrough:
FIND “A” WAY, NOT “THE” WAY
This “eureka!” moment came to me after I had just completed a comprehensive report for one of my clients. It was going to be distributed to their global sales and marketing teams, so I was determined to deliver a masterpiece. But there was a hitch – the editor that I had used for years had just quit the business. I was nervous about submitting my project to an untested resource, so I did something I’d never done before: I submitted the same project to two different editors. After I hit “Send,” I felt a little silly. After all, editing is editing, right? It’s more science than art, so surely I would get basically the same results back from both people. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong; the differences were startling, and I ended up combining great changes and recommendations from both sources.
Then it hit me that what had been getting in my way all along was the voice in my head telling me that there was one perfect, finished product out there, and one prescribed path to it that had to look a certain way in order to be “right”. My job was to find the way to this elusive end.
The liberating reality is that these projects, like almost everything else (including editing and even science and data), are actually subjective and creative pursuits and each person brings a different take. My real responsibility is to find a way – my way – to produce a finished product that only I can create.
A rush of responsibility, accountability, and ultimately empowerment came over me that day, and it accelerated and eased my creative output from that day forward.
- Make a list of the works that you have created that made you proud. Now you have visual evidence that you have found a way. It’s always there for you to discover (and it never has to look the same way twice).
- Look at projects as puzzles to be solved. You can start by building the frame and filling in, sorting and grouping complementary ideas or just randomly putting thoughts together. You’ll be doing it your way, after all.
- Approach projects with a feeling of ease and trust – in yourself – and you’ll set the stage for accomplishment.
- By all means, read, watch videos and sign up for trainings that present various methods for accomplishing your goals. Then tap into your creativity to mix, match and combine these approaches in ways that work for you.
You are a unique creator, and no one else can author your works. Now that you know this, tension, frustration and pressure don’t have to be prerequisites to your productivity.
Isn't that great?
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