Everyday is a new creative adventure, whether you’re working on a passion project or trying to come up with the next big idea for your client. We should try to strive to let ourselves embrace, explore and be inspired by our own personal creative paths.
But sometimes, we wander off the path and get lost on the way. The journey may still feel enjoyable, but we’ve stepped away from the process in an unplanned or unhelpful way that takes you too far from actually achieving your goals. And in those instances, no matter how pleasurable the experience, sometimes, if you go off-course, you’ve got to find your way back. Here are three tips to getting yourself back on track.
- Find a guide. If you’re truly lost, perhaps you need a little guidance to find your way? Maybe it’s revisiting the original creative brief to see if you’ve strayed too far from the original concept. Maybe it’s asking your colleagues, team or boss for advice when you’re facing a mental challenge that has you sidelined. Or, if your struggle is a bigger challenge of feeling adrift in your job, a mentor or even a career coach may be the answer. As creative consultant Jeffrey Davis said of feeling sidelined, “I’ve seen talented minds go to waste out of sheer stubbornness, pride, and shame in not asking for directions from others… Every thriving enterpriser I know, interviewed, and have studied has a mentor and a group of trusted allies.” Don’t be afraid to admit how you’re feeling and to ask for help.
- Focus. This is the tough one because struggling with focusing could be what caused you to feel lost in the first place, but sometimes, the only answer to getting back on track is to buckle down and do it. While we always need to allow ourselves a balance of creative freedom, having the concentration and discipline to see ourselves through challenging projects, situations and even time periods is essential to seeing things through. So, next time you feel yourself drift off your path, work on training your mind to focus, just like you would any muscle.
- Give Yourself Time to Get Lost. We’ve explored before how important a little time off to daydream and wander is for the creative brain. Perhaps you’re getting lost due to creative fatigue. In a digital era where we’re always connected and an industry where we can technically do our work from anywhere with a wifi signal, it’s easy to understand how fast we can get to a state of burnout. Wieden + Kennedy London even recently went so far as to institute email-free hours and limited meeting times to help combat the “always-on” expectations. If you’re feeling disconnected in your creative work, maybe it’s time to schedule some time to be actually disconnected.
Sometimes, the best way to find your way back is to embrace the journey for a bit. After all, as Tolkien said, “Not all who wander are lost.”