Here’s How I Stifled My Own Creativity (but Didn’t Even Know It)

This is for the overwhelmed, the type-A person who needs to have all of her ducks in a row – always.

So you want to launch a new project or jump into the job search, but you’re overwhelmed. Where do you start? And what are all the things you need to do to ensure a successful process?

I know this feeling all too well. I’m a planner. I need to know what will happen when (for the most part), and I need to have foresight into my projects one month out. If I don’t, cue nightmares and sleepless nights!

Organization has served me well in life. I’m rarely ever late, and I never miss a deadline.

But my focus on organization has also hurt me. This need to have everything planned and perfect and fully under control has stifled my spontaneity, creativity, and ability to take risks.

I’ve realized for me this is a product of working in a corporate setting for almost my entire life. Organization is highly valued because we need it to keep things moving at a large, traditional company.

Similarly, with school, we rarely talk about taking risks and failing. Instead, we receive a syllabus and use that to keep us on track.

But whether you work for a large organization, run your own company or you’re launching a side hustle, the workplace is changing, and we need more creativity so we can problem solve on our feet. And to be creative, we need chaos.

Here’s how to embrace the chaos so you can boost spontaneity and creativity and ultimately work smarter.

Identify What Overwhelms You The Most

We tend to run away from that “I’m so overwhelmed” feeling.

So what makes you the MOST uncomfortable? What overwhelms you the most? Get clear on this, then go and do it.

These past few months, I learned that I was getting in my own way. I was avoiding key activities to bring Work Bigger to more people. I was spending hours strategizing (because I love strategy) and less time putting myself out there (because I hate rejection).

If you’re currently job searching, are you spending hours looking for work online rather than going out and speaking with the right people? Are you avoiding putting yourself out there and asking for help?

If you want to launch a new project, are you spending days, months or maybe even years waiting for the right moment to launch it?

Figure out what overwhelms you the most, then do it.

Plan Backwards

I still love planning. But rather than plan everything in advance, I’m learning to plan backward. I now test several different things, track my results, and identify the recipe that works.

For example, if you’re job searching, try out three new activities this week. Attend a new networking event, join a new community, and reach out to someone who has the job you want.

Test different things for an entire month, then after 30 days take inventory of where you are. Which activities got you closer to the job you want?

If you made the most progress by reaching out to that stranger, this indicates areas in which you thrive (e.g., connecting with strangers) as well as a tactic that works best for you.

In Conclusion

That discomfort we feel when doing something different causes so much tension. If you’re used to checking everything off a list and feeling accomplished, this is especially true.

Find comfort in the fact that you’re not doing anything wrong. That discomfort you feel actually means you’re doing something right.

Naturally, when we try something new, we don’t have all the answers. If we did, there’d be no progress, and you’d simply be right back where you started.

Now we’d love to hear from you! Where does the need to be perfect and fully organized show up for you? Share with us in the comments below!