Writing my dissertation was a constant push and pull of energy, inspiration, anxiety, and overwhelm. "A certain amount of anxiety is natural and to be expected," said one of my dissertation guide books. The sheer amount of work to be done was the culprit, and there was a timeline to consider. The pressure was on to just get it done (one of my professors had told me that the best dissertation is a finished dissertation). Sometimes my determination and discipline failed me, so I discovered ways to reignite my excitement to gain momentum.
So when one of my colleagues told me about a creative slump he had earlier this year, I was reminded of the strategies I used to jump-start inspiration during my dissertation.
- Talk about it.
Discussing the topic with someone new is a great way to bring back your spark. Being present while their curiosity builds and answering questions often kindles your own curiosity again, and being curious is one of the best ways to innovate solutions.
- Do something new.
Totally changing gears and giving your brain something completely different to do can help change perspective and allow you to see your project with new eyes. If this is a team project, doing something new together can multiply the benefits. This is why company retreats can be so effective.
- Spend quality time with loved ones.
These are the people who love you know matter what happens with this or any other work project. Being fully engaged with those who have known you for a long time and who love you unconditionally will also help to put things into perspective. Impending deadlines won't seem like such a big deal when you know you have a safety net. Lowering that internal pressure can instantly reduce anxiety and get creativity flowing again.
Remember how difficult the past few years have been and understand that your mind and body may still be recovering and trying to cope with the present reality. In short, cut yourself some slack. Inspiration, innovation, and creativity that may have flowed freely before may need a little prompting. Those aspects of your character haven't disappeared completely; it just may take a little more time and prompting to access them.
Dr. Nancy Williams is a music educator and leadership & life coach who helps creatives build cultures of joy and empowerment. Sign up for weekly messages of inspiration and leadership tips sent directly to your inbox and receive the free list "50 Ways to Say No."