Ahh, the ‘newness’ of spring is in the air and there’s a whisper of a promise of happier times. Yes, it feels there is truly an opportunity to hit reset, a chance to restore our mindset and energy, and pursue new and exciting ventures. But what happens when we feel lifeless and unmotivated? This past year has been difficult, and personally speaking, my well of creativity feels bone dry despite ideal circumstances for a complete refresh.
Andy J. Pizza, producer and host of the podcast “Creative Peptalk,” has a solution to this conundrum and it’s worth checking out, especially if you are in a creative field that requires mental stamina and new ways of thinking in daily work life. (Here’s looking at you brand planners, creative strategists, copy writers, research consultants, artists, journalists…and the list goes on).
In Episode 310, Pizza lists out a four-step approach to getting back in the groove when you feel paralyzed or “stuck.”
Pizza starts out by explaining a loss of motivation is not due to a lack of momentum, but rather direction. Essentially, when you feel you can’t move forward or continue with a creative project or task, the problem could be that you have lost your direction or focus. You have the will to keep going but can’t because you don’t know the next right step. Self-doubt creeps in and make it harder to tell if your next move will take you closer to your goal or further away. This is not a lack of momentum, but a lack of clarity.
So the next time you are feeling lost in a project or initiative, there are four steps recommended by Pizza to alleviate this issue:
- Stop and admit you are lost. This is key! There is no shame in admitting you’ve lost your path forward and admitting you are lost gives you permission to recalibrate.
- Ask yourself, where have I been or better yet, where have ‘we’ been? Look at your creative endeavor and determine what you have done and what knowledge is already available on the subject. Bonus points for looking outside yourself or your industry for cultural inspiration. Syncing up with the collective can often provide a new perspective. What work have others done on this project/issue? Where does it sit in the context of culture, society, or history? What knowledge can be applied from others? Who are the torch bearers of the past you can look to for inspiration?
- Next ask, where am I going next? What does success look like for this project/initiative? At this point, you will have a bit more perspective than when you started. You will begin to see a path emerge from your previous work and experiences that will serve as a guide point or inspiration for where you need to go. As Pizza states, “It might be a little fuzzy, but you can get a vague sense of a relationship between where you have been and where you want to go.”
- Finally, ask yourself, what is getting in my way? This it the part where your creative mojo can truly kick into gear. Once you have defined where you’ve been/what you know and where you want to go next, you can determine what is preventing you from taking those next steps and problem solve until you find a new solution.
Of course this is a super simplified retelling of the advice Pizza presents, but perhaps it will get your juices flowing and re-set your productivity. If you’d like to hear more examples of this four-step process I highly recommend checking out Creative Peptalk, Episode 310.
Now it’s your turn to share―have you ever experienced a crisis of creativity? What are some things you do to move from paralysis to action?