Are you ready for the topic of the week in our Creativity Series? This one hits close to home, in fact this was the most challenging post of the series for me to write — just thinking about the topic gave me deer in the headlights syndrome. Have you ever heard of analysis paralysis? This is what we’ll be discussing today, it’s a good one since lots of us struggle with it. Let’s talk about what analysis paralysis is and why it’s the quickest way to pour cold water all over that creative spark of yours.
First, what is analysis paralysis? Well it’s not some catchy word from Dr. Phil. It’s a condition that many suffer from but thankfully can be treated. Here’s the Wiktionary definition, “Analysis Paralysis– The condition of being unable to make a decision due to the availability of too much information which must be processed in order for the decision to be made.” In other words, omg too much information!!! You can’t make progress because you are brainstorming, researching, talking about, fine tuning, studying, and forum posting the life out of your idea. In the end you don’t do it. Sound familiar? Perhaps it’s a cop out, a cover, a mask because the more you are learning you can justify to yourself (and your friends) why you haven’t actually done it yet. Hmmm. Let’s illustrate.
Example: You want to sell your handmade scary monster dolls online.
Positive and practical next step: Spend a reasonable amount of time researching websites, pricing, competition, etc. Set priorities, carve out a plan, take it one step at a time. You may decide to open a small shop on a site like Etsy, Folksy, Dawanda, 1000 markets, etc. to see how you do and grow from there. Think about what you must do in order to get started, list your priorities first and stick to those action items. I find it best to work on the must do list and save the future maybes list for after you get started. Some find that lots of research, work, etc. is better conducted after the idea is launched.
The Analysis Paralysis way: Spend an unreasonable amount of time researching websites, pricing, competition, etc. Look at competitors thinking their work is somehow better. Explore every single website ever invented on planet earth to see where work should be sold. Then explore Mars. And maybe the Moon too. Next, proceed to get all stressed out over the potential that the idea could be stolen once it’s online. Worry that no one will like you. Worry that some kid may swallow your doll and die, you will get sued, and your life will be ruined. Read tons of books, blogs and websites on how to launch a small business online. Start thinking that maybe you should also sell your t-shirts and gocco prints. Start researching gocco paint and where you can purchase it for the best price. Spend more weeks on that. Then realize you really only want to sell your dolls. End result: months and months spent over analyzing everything and in the end, you still have no idea what website you want to go with to sell your dolls. Or worse, you see dolls much like yours in a brand new web shop that people are literally going bonkers over, they can’t keep ‘em stocked, and you think you are a total loser for sitting on the idea for so long. You’re not a loser, you are just giving something that doesn’t require so much legwork way to much time to cook. Newsflash! You may be over cooking your idea.
I have this crazy expression that I use when I’m deep frying the life out of an idea. Stop drop and roll with it.
Have you stopped the flow of ideas before you were able to get started by over-analyzing everything? While it is a proven fact that creativity comes more naturally for some than others, I whole-heartedly believe that if you pursue your creative side and just GET STARTED then remain consistent, determined, and positive, you can find greater joy, increased self-worth, and success in your ideas.
You don’t need to learn everything before you start something. If you want to start selling your art prints, open a shop on a site like Etsy.com for instance and start putting your work there and build. Take a few business courses or talk to friends who have experience to share. Drop over-thinking every minutiae.
Here’s the exercise for this week. Grab some paper if you’d like or comment below.
1) List a few things that in the past you have over analyzed to the point of either a) Not following through on the idea or b) information overload stressed you out so much that the finished product wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been had you not over analyzed things.
2) List a few things that you want to do going forward that you see yourself already over thinking to the point of becoming uninspired. Maybe it is a bedroom that you need to decorate? An interest in taking up crochet? What is the real reason behind not actually DOING it?
3) Review your list and decide for yourself that you will no longer charbroil your ideas. Believe in the fact that you are worthy of selling those scary monster dolls online, that you will make mistakes along the way and that’s fine (all successful people have and continue to make mistakes), you will deal with copycats and jerks online, you will have some unhappy customers, but know that you are worthy enough to have success, money, honor, even a loyal following of fans… and that the bad is worth the good. And just DO it. Take the first step and then think about the second one.
Think all successful businesses are born from an elaborate business plan? Read my first post on decor8 in January 9, 2006. Does THAT sound like a girl with much of a plan?
(image by holly becker for decor8)
Broaden your horizons and challenge yourself is my chosen theme for this week’s creativity series. Want to talk about this for a moment? I hope so because I’m very eager to talk to you, get your feedback, and read your list of 10 things which I’ll get to in a moment. Okay, let’s get started.
I’m sure you’ll agree that most successful people today who make a positive contribution are creative thinkers who face challenge head on and allow themselves to explore, learn, and grow. Just look at Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Steven Hawking, Russell Simmons, even Heidi Klum (who has quite an interesting bio), and you will see a theme. They do not give up on their dreams, they are not their own worst enemy, they broaden their horizons and challenges do not stop them.
Another noticeable point is that they were not an overnight success. Baby steps. Often we think we’re not doing something right if we’re not instantly successful. We often lose track of a simple truth: one shot wonders rarely last. Shooting stars tend to burn out the quickest. I’m a huge fan of slow and steady wins the race in many instances. Consistency, challenging yourself, growing strong roots, learning, there’s so much more to a full life and success that takes actual time to build. Broadening your horizons and challenging yourself are two ways to become a more creative thinker and a happier more well rounded person because the more exposure you have to new thoughts and ideas, the more thoughts and ideas you’ll have. The more you open yourself to new experiences. The more in tune you become to your needs, dreams, and expectations of yourself and others become clearer. The more you push yourself you will gain confidence and a clearer voice.
Often people attribute success to being at the right place at the right time. While I believe this does happen, I believe that it does not happen by chance as much as some may think. I believe it happens for one sure reason: the person was there to begin with. They put themselves out there. Basically what I’m saying is that by stepping onto that stage to sing (while simultaneously being discovered by the talent agent in the audience) they were ON the actual stage, they got up there, they made the move. Everything they had already done led up to that moment and by placing themselves there on that stage they were discovered. Onlookers may then call them an “overnight success” but not really. They had been in training for many years whether they realized it or not. Every success, every failure, every challenge, it all brought them to that moment.
One lady I truly respect in the design world is Marcia Zia, one-half of the creative husband and wife duo behind Zia-Priven Design in North Hollywood, California. You may recall when she sat in on our “What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do” series. If not, please read her inspirational and motivating words here. Marcia found her true calling as a sought-after lighting designer by following her own advice, “Taking classes in different fields was one of the greatest things that I ever did to find my direction,” she says. “When you discover your talents and where your creativity lies, inspiration will flow freely and the apprehension you once felt will dissolve into confidence and determination — Remember that your dreams are worth the time and the effort!”
How can you broaden your horizons? What do I mean by challenging yourself?
Here’s a good start. In the comments section below, because you are amongst friends here and I will certainly do the same, list 10 things that you want to learn more about. ANYTHING. There is NO wrong answer. These things do not have to be ones that you plan to do to earn a living, just list what you have a genuine interest in that perhaps you’ve put on the back burner for way too long.
After listing your ten things, ask yourself which one you are willing to commit to learning now. As in tomorrow. Note that in your comment here before everyone reading because it makes it real once on paper and out of your head.
Now it’s time to get started. Do some research and find a book, call a few of your contacts if someone you know has knowledge you want to tap into, enroll in a class, take an online workshop, sit in on a lecture, listen to a podcast (or several), do something that will enable you to learn about the one thing on your list of ten. Keyword being DO. If you like, take on the second and third and so on, but don’t get over zealous because that’s a nice way to fall flat and discourage yourself. Just take on what you can realizing that ONE is enough for now. Just get started, get moving, go forward, challenge yourself, broaden your horizons. Immerse yourself in inspiring new ideas and do not be afraid to challenge old ways of thinking. To borrow from Nike, Just Do It because you can do it.
So who wants to write their list and pick one from it that they will promise to look into further? C’mon, someone has to step up on the stage…
(image from holly becker for decor8)
I’m so pleased to be sitting here with all of you today to discuss creativity and how to better tap into it. I love writing the Creativity Series, I feel like all of us are really connecting through the comments and because I read each one, I’m clicking on your links and learning about your blogs, what you do for a living, and many of the things that are important to you. Thank you so much for your participation in this series thus far!
For those just catching up, the first week we discussed the benefits of tapping into childhood and how mind mapping as a good way to do that. Our second week was all about exercise, and week three focused on the benefits of keeping a journal. So what will we talk about today? I’ve invited Marisa Haedike of Creative Thursday to visit us and share her personal experiences, which she does after my thoughts below, so let’s get started. I also can’t wait to see what you have to say on this topic, Marisa and I will be reading your comments and answering any questions you may have.
Develop a positive support system.
I know, easier said than done since friendships grow and change on a daily basis, often by no conscious choice due to relocation, pregnancy, marriage, and changes in employment. With so many friends on the go, it’s often challenging to schedule a 10-minute coffee break so most of us get little quality face time with our friends. How does one form a support system?
Here are a few ideas that I’ve tapped into. You can reach out to your local community by joining a group with similar interests through a website like Meetup.com. You can also take advantage of the many social networking websites to stay in touch, try Twitter (my current obsession), Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Another idea, join a book reading club or form a knitting circle. (And if you think a knitting group may be boring read Unravelled by Robyn Harding!) I’ve done this in the past, host a clothes swap or decorating swap! I made up the decorating swap idea, it’s where I invite over friends and we trade stuff from our homes, trading a Jonathan Adler ceramic for a design book for instance,that kind of thing.
Another way to form connections with others is to seek those online that you feel a connection to through blog reading. That is how decor8 was born. Comment on the blogs that you love regularly so their authors can get to know you. Find out if they are using the same social networking sites that you do and request to become their friend and follow their work. I’ve had lots of decor8 readers send me cards through snail mail along with their business card, I keep every single one and refer to them often.
Looking for good blogs? For those of you new to the blogworld, you can locate thousands organized by genre at Delightfulblogs.com. There are blogs written on nearly every topic imaginable, the topics span from crafting to interior design, architecture, creative writing, DIY, IKEA hacks and beyond. There is even a magazine devoted to artsy blogs called Artful Blogging and it’s a beautiful, informative publication where I have been introduced to many lovely new faces online.
Once you start reading blogs, you may feel inspired to author your own as yet another way to build a supportive network. You can attract many like-minded individuals once you put yourself out there as either a blogger, a regular commenter on blogs, or both.
For those of you who already read blogs or author your own, how do you take it to the next level and form a friendship?
I’ve invited Marisa Haedike from Creative Thursday to share from her personal experience as an artist and blogger. Take it away, Marisa!
“Just the other day I had lunch with a new friend and the main topic of our conversation was the importance of human connection. And while this particular lunch was in person, my first introduction to her was via the internet.
It is now becoming the norm for me that many of my closest friends here in Los Angeles are actually friends I initially “met” by coming to know them through their blogs. This is when you realize just how powerful the internet is in opening our possibilities to connect in such meaningful ways, becoming a community of support to one another.
It seems obvious that human connection is vital, especially in person. But now we are all fortunate to be part of a time where you realize that human connection has the potential to extend across the continents on a daily basis.
And that is key in building your community online, recognizing that there really is no difference between connecting online and making friends in person.
Which brings me to my first and most important recommendation in building your community of support online. Choose to be yourself. Start connecting from who you truly are, and this way you will build that kind of community that will be the most genuine. The beauty of connecting online is that now more than ever you have the chance to meet so many wonderful people.
Just say hello. It all begins with willingness to say hello to the people you want to “meet”, reaching out to the people who inspire you. Also be willing to offer your support to those who inspire you and do so unconditionally. When you do reach out, or offer support, you may hear back from some and not from others. Remember, if for some reason you don’t hear back from someone, not take it personally, just trust that the community that will resonate the most with you will find you, and you will find them.
And when you do find them, be a friend. Friendships are an exchange between people and it’s the same online. You have to be willing to open up. Of course, I don’t mean revealing parts of yourself that you choose to keep private, but you have to be willing to share who you are.
This is where I can’t say enough about blogging. I don’t think the importance of having a blog or a web presence that you can update regularly, like facebook or flickr can be stressed enough in terms of building your community. A web presence where people can leave comments is especially good. Having a place that you call “home” online is the only way the friends that you are wanting to connect with will have a chance to “meet” you and over time come to “know” you just as you would with an in person relationship. Even if all you have is an about page attached to your blog ~ that’s something, it’s a start.
And you may be wondering why I’m focusing so much on friendships and less on the business connections, because going back to the conversation I had over lunch with my friend, we both realized how business connections are built from human connection, which starts with the willingness to be a genuine friend to someone.” – Marisa.
Building friendships, having a support system with others who ‘get’ you, this builds creativity. Exchanging ideas, a process, a fear, a success.
Now it’s your turn readers. Do you have a support system? Online, real time, or? How did you build it? What is missing that you wish existed? How does a support system help you to feel inspired, to be more creative?
(photo by holly becker for decor8)
Are you ready for our Creativity Series this week? We’re going to have homework so I hope that you’re excited to get to work! Hey, it’s all about YOU and your personal benefit so no complaining! :) For those just catching up, the first week of our series discussed the benefits of tapping into your childhood to figure out what you enjoyed before external influences and expectations took over. We talked about mind mapping as a good way to do that. I was beyond excited when many of you took the suggestion and pulled together your own map (thanks for showing me via your blogs and emails!).
During the second week of our Creativity Series, we talked about the importance of physical activity, whether it’s a walk around the block, time spent with your camera outdoors, or sweating it up at the gym – that part is up to you. Successful and productive people, happy people, are all known to have a regular exercise routine. Why do you think Oprah is so down on herself lately? She got out of her routine and the rich and powerful know just how vital routines are. Scientifically speaking, it makes you look and feel better but also helps your creativity to flow more freely — the whole point of encouraging regular exercise. For those of you who hate exercise, replace words like “exercise” and “working out” with “brain boosting sessions” or “creative recharge time”. I’m not kidding! If you are going to the gym and dread it, think of it as a creative exercise and not so much as a physical one. Am I making sense?
With mind mapping and exercise on the table, let’s now add to that our topic this week: Maintaining a regular journal. Intuition is our guide and I find that the more I journal the more I tap into mine. Many find that writing first thing in the morning is best and especially helpful in case you want to record a vivid dream. Others prefer to write late at night when there is less distraction. Some take journaling a step further to include magazine clippings, paint, and colored pencils, also known as Art Journaling. You can google “Art Journaling” and see hundreds of websites, books, and blogs on this topic. While there are no rules to time, place, or entry length, remaining consistent is key.
I have an iPod Touch and downloaded an app called Gratitude! by Happy Tapper (Oprah loves hers) and developed by Carla Kay White. It’s basically a spot where you can jot down what you are grateful for today and it stores all of your entries by date so you can go back in time to read any of them in case you are feeling like rubbish and need a reminder of the good things in life. It also gives you a daily quote that is always very uplifting and you can password protect this app so you can freely write whatever you’d like without feeling someone may read it.
How can regular journaling help you become more creative? Journaling stimulates creativity by reducing the clutter in your head. Brain fog clears! Journaling eases decision making, reveals patterns, tracks progress, and allows freedom of expression in a private space where you will not be judged. While blogging can allow this freedom, there is a part of us that feels uncomfortable revealing all on the web. I keep most of my personal business to myself and though some other bloggers tend to tell all and that works for them, I am not that free with my personal thoughts and family matters because I believe that even when you think you are ‘free’ the moment you are standing before others you tend to edit – even if just a wee bit. I’m sure your blog and your personal journal (if you write one) look very different.
I’ve been keeping a journal since I was 7 years old. In fact I still have at least half of them (lost a few boxes once during our relocation from South Carolina). I wrote inside of my very first diary that my friend Mindy and I had just visited my favorite stationery shop and I wrote how I used my allowance money on the Hello Kitty diary that I was writing in. I expressed how excited I was to have a diary and how I planned to write in it every single day. I also talked about how Mindy and I had to stay on the sofa where I was writing because the “carpet cleaning guys” had just left and my mother did not want us to walk around while the carpets were drying. Of course, over the years my journal entries matured along with me, I recorded everything from how awkward I felt in school gym class (I’m a klutz) to the time my mother took me to buy my first training bra and how she told me that she didn’t know why they call it a training bra (I asked her why apparently), but I wrote in my journal that I told her that it’s because a training bra will train them to do tricks someday. I remember she thought that was pretty funny, but at the time I was just making an innocent comment. It’s a riot to read entries like that. I find lots of doodling in my journals, painful boyfriend episodes, problems with particular classes in school, and I talk a lot about decorating, flowers, crafts, and hobbies throughout them. I also wrote about how much I loved to write stories and make my own books. I definitely see patterns in my thinking, progress and failures, everything is all crystal clear. I don’t feel like I lost time because I’ve been writing in journals since I was a child so there’s no period in which I feel like my life got lost.
Not everyone has journals from their childhood, which is understandable, so I’d like to encourage anyone reading who does not have a personal writing space to consider it! Keeping one as an adult is so vital to me because it’s important for dealing with fears, coping with loss, handling failure, revealing patterns in thinking, all of which help to shape my future but to also live in the moment. Looking at entries just from last week is a good review for me, I can see bits of thinking that I consider flawed, errors I’d made in judgment, paths I need to straighten. I highly suggest writing in a journal!
If you are not a journal person, I’d like to suggest an alternative — listing. Sounds weird but there is a book called Listography: Your Life in Lists made specifically for this. I purchased my copy last April and it’s fun to maintain and very revealing. I love the page: List Professions You’d Like To Try. It’s a great way to help you to open up if you’re not sure where to begin. Each page of Listography asks you a question and space is provided to answer, draw, whatever you fancy.
Would you like to try listing for a moment along with me here? I say go for it. List a few things that you would like to do as a profession if you knew you would not fail. Ready?
Do you keep a journal? Do you want to? How has it helped you tap into your creative self?
(images from holly becker for decor8)