This guest post is by Tara Gentile of Scoutie Girl
Ignoring your creativity can have serious consequences. You feel stuck—even depressed. You start heading down a spiral of inaction. It gets harder & harder to make things happen in your life.
Reclaiming your creativity (yes, I know you’ve got some!) can jump start your life in startling ways. Finding your own creative spark will help you set your dreams in motion and push ahead when the going gets tough.
My senior year of college was a real creative peak for me. I was writing daily, blogging on Xanga, and reading like a fiend. I earned a full scholarship to my graduate program of choice with the intent to study postmodern Christian theology.
I was poised to be another small success story of academia.
But while I was working my summer job, I got bit by the conventional life bug. My forward momentum ceased.
I took a full time job at one of the bookstore chains, slinging coffee and steaming milk. I was passionate about coffee and books. Turns out I was also passionate about business. But Fortune 500 retail management doesn’t leave a lot of room for creativity in the workplace.
My independent successes were often overruled by overlords—I mean, middle managers—who preached conformity.
My mood ebbed and flowed with the decisions that those above me made. I rose in the ranks and found that the higher I went, the less creativity I was allowed.
In a lifetime of run-ins with depression, I battled the worst bout while working there. With no time or energy for self-expression, I couldn’t act on my usual creative self remedies. I quickly spiraled out of control, losing about 30lbs as my body shut down. I drove to work wanting to die. I drove home from work wanting to die.
Luckily, I met my husband and recovered. If only it was as quickly and easily as writing that sentence. With his accountability, I made time for me and my mood improved.
Now I realize that period in my life was a direct consequence of inaction. With no creative outlet, I lost touch with my own life.
It turned out that the conventional life I desired wasn’t what I thought it would be. Working my butt off for mediocre-at-best pay didn’t mean I could live on my own, purchase the things I needed, or keep up with any sort of social life outside of the occasional glass of wine with my coworkers, who I already saw too often thankyouverymuch.
On top of this, I realized that when you settle for inaction and the conventional, it’s that much harder to create and act on unconventional circumstances.
It’s that much harder to create the action you need to fulfill your goals.
Settling for inaction doesn’t just delay your satisfaction—it makes it harder to achieve!
Reclaiming my creativity and my own lust for action took a complete break from my circumstances: the birth of my daughter.
While the shift from dreaming to doing wasn’t immediate, I reconnected with my capacity for learning new things and achieving my goals. It was a process—one that was punctuated with reading, writing, and experimentation. Within a few months, I was able to act.
It was like drawing my pistol from its holster on my hip, still plump with post-pregnancy weight.
While my first shot may not have hit true, shot after shot, action after action, my aim and my circumstances improved.
People now ask me how I turn ideas into reality so quickly, how I can generate so much forward progress from a schedule that all to easily gets bogged down in the day to day. Very simply, it’s the cycle of action. The consequence of inaction is more—paralyzing—inaction.
The consequence of action is more—energizing—action.
If you’re feeling bogged down by the day-to-day, unsure of where the energy to achieve your dreams will come from, or simply stuck, here are some ideas for helping you break free.
1. Find your breaking point.
Not where you break, but where you can break the cycle of inaction. What fundamental change can you make in your life to produce an environment where your creativity can thrive? Your solution might be a change of routine or schedule, a change in location, or a break from a toxic friendship. In general, I don’t recommend having a baby for this purpose.
Your breaking point is a change that will allow you to fundamentally shift your perspective on your day to day tasks. Inevitably, these kinds of changes don’t happen overnight, they’re part of a process of change. But working words a single action that has the capacity to renew your energy and restart your forward progress can be motivation in and of itself.
2. Accept that not every idea is a good one.
While you’re recovering from inaction, it’s easy to get discouraged when you discover your new idea isn’t feasible or when your project just doesn’t turn out well. Part of creating your forward progress is failing, learning, and acting again. By accepting that a great many of your ideas won’t turn out, you’ll leave yourself open for even better ideas.
Failure is an integral part of creating more action in your life. It’s not a stumbling block; it’s an opportunity. People who produce a lot of good stuff produce a lot more bad stuff. But they use their failures to propel them forward not hold them back.
3. Don’t hold on to the things that hold you back.
While it sounds simple, many people I know hold on to habits that stop them from making progress: TV, naps, household expectations, shopping… Most of these things don’t have the ROT—return on your time—that exercising your creativity and action on your ideas can.
Whether you goal is to start a business, take up an exercise routine, or write the great American novel, you’ll find your time is better spent working towards your goals. Once you’re in the cycle of action, there will be plenty of time for obligations and mindless activities.
Inaction has serious consequences.
While you may not see its effects today or tomorrow, it’s wearing away at your productivity, tearing apart your creativity. Finding your way back to a cycle of action, progress, and momentum will help you deal with these consequences, reverse them, and find real energy in your life, no matter your goals.
Breaking the cycle of inaction requires a choice: to make your own needs a priority. Allow yourself to examine what kind of action you need to move forward with your goals. Allow yourself to consider what you’ve been missing as a result of your inaction.
Then, little by little or full steam ahead, embrace new choices that require your action.
Tara Gentile empowers people to live more creatively and change the world with their money on Scoutie Girl. Learn more about moving from inaction to accomplishment with her free Creating Action ecourse.