Whether we run a wild-woman business or rely on creative juices for our 9-5 gig, we’re all hurrying hard to brainstorm the next great idea. But it might be as simple as taking our brain out of it.

Not exactly convinced? Here’s what happens when we focus on a general archetype: we crash. It’s why dieting leads to weight gain and looking at an obstacle pulls us off the road. Ironically, when we are single-minded on weight loss we become consumed with what we can’t eat, pushing the wrong pedal with good intention and just enough force to land us further back than when we started. It’s why driving schools teach their students to look where the obstacle isn’t to avoid collisions—because we subconsciously go in the direction of our focus, after all.

The truth is, what we really want is healthy living and safe travels, but instead of going for less stress—the hidden block that we’ve been staring at all along and didn’t know it—we go for broke. The problem isn’t a rogue donut that somehow found it’s way to our lips or a skipped over goal sheet. The problem is our disproportionate focus on it. And the stress of it all leads just as equally to emotional eating as it does to creative blocking. So if finding creativity has become more elusive since making it your top priority, stop looking for it. Really!

Here’s 7 ways to turn off your brain and turn on your best ideas:

Don’t get down on down time.

Ever wonder why your best ideas pop up in the shower? Or while you’re out walking? It’s because while you aren’t working, the unconscious is doing it’s beautiful running-in-the-background thing. With a bit of distance and some time to lie fallow, your brain ignites on the spark you started earlier.

Overcome comparison with compliments.

Do you check social media before you get down to work only to be discouraged by what everyone else is already doing? Open your email and send one love note to a peer, your competition, and a girlfriend. You will immediately recognize the humbling magic that honouring others makes.

Show your work.

Print it, mark it up, and lay it round like unfinished business to remind you to pick it up again. It will also remind you of what you’ve already accomplished. This will clear up insecurities, especially in a digitally clouded market where you keep your wares.

Get on a plane.

Reduce stress by pretending you are leaving town. Put your phone into airplane mode when you are working to help minimize distraction and the accompanying feelings of obligation to respond to everything right away. You don’t need to, girl!

Work like clockwork.

Schedule your day by routine, complete with a warm up and cool down. This is how pro athletes get into the groove—they open and bring closure to their work in a satisfyingly predictable way even on the days they don’t “produce.” Thank you muscle memory!

Get colorful with your stress.

Have some pencils, watercolors and sharpies on hand to doodle and sketch, which is naturally calming. Use them during meetings and any time you think that blank white space is goading you. The sooner you give your stress some color, the better.

Tithe your time.

It’s not only most important but too often the first thing we cut in our busy business. If anyone knows anything about creativity, He does. Let go of your understanding of it and trust in Him enough to give up the most precious commodity that He first gave you.

Making is so connected to our emotions (and so affected by our stress) because it’s closer to peacemaking than we realize. Less brainy and more hearty. And all kinds of block busting goodness.

We all occasionally find ourselves looking for the next great idea but coming up completely empty. What helps you get out of a creativity black hole?

Chantal Wiebe
Chantal Wiebe

Chantal is a grey-haired married mama raising their boys on a Canadian prairie acreage. She’s a school psychologist, writer and digital storyteller, writing her life thesis on learning to love.

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