Every creative journey begins with a problem…Before we can find the answer—before we probably even know the question—we must be immersed in disappointment, convinced that a solution is beyond our reach…Before Bob Dylan could reinvent himself, writing the best music of his career, he needed to believe that he had nothing left to say.
– Jonah Lehrer in Imagination: How Creativity Works
Are you in a rut? Sidelined in pursuit of a goal? Facing a thorny problem? In difficult circumstances you can’t see your way out of?
Here are five steps to finding your way forward.
1. Be playful. Super Creatives report that when you hit a wall, you need to forget worry, stop straining and let yourself go. Take a long walk, see a comedic movie, pick up your hobby, or take that vacation you’ve been promising yourself.
Playfulness sets your brain free to connect with a creative solution you can’t discover when you brain is under strain.
2. Connect with your deepest “why.” Your most pressing need may be financial, relational or career-related. Take time to get in touch with what is beneath the surface.
Ponder: what is really at stake? Is your growth as person stalled? Do you sense a calling you want to fulfill? Whose lives will be impacted?
What is the most critical, foundational, important-to-yourself-and-other-people reason you need a solution?
Write it down. This builds courage and persistence.
3. Pray. Not to check off a technique you read was a good thing to do. Present your request to God as a humble seeker who believes God sees her and will come to her aid. Humility breeds faith. And faith “moves mountains.”
4. Listen. Quiet your thoughts to be in receiver mode. Carry a pen and journal or 3 x 5 card with you everywhere and be ready to write down the noteworthy thoughts that float up. They may come while driving, in a staff meeting or in those early morning moments in bed before you are fully awake.
Don’t dismiss an idea because you don’t instantly see how you can implement it. Mull it over. Additional ideas may reveal your path.
5. Keep moving. Don’t give up or recede into depression or resignation. Keep playing, praying, and listening. When you discover a new door, try it gently. If it opens, walk on. If it doesn’t open to you, continue searching.
Remember: Before Bob Dylan could reinvent himself, writing the best music of his career, he needed to believe that he had nothing left to say.
Know that right now you are where you need to be. Press on–the new thing is just around the corner.
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photo credit: cogdogblog (creative commons)
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