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5 Ways to Stop Psyching Yourself Out of Your Goals

5 Ways to Stop Psyching Yourself Out of Your Goals

    For the past 5 and a half years I have gained interests in several different disciplines and topics. I like playing guitar, gaming, writing, creating and designing websites, programming, biking (bicycling, Harley dudes.), understanding economics, science, and math. I’ve come to find out that I am pretty good at some of these things, yet with most I am mediocre at best.

    And because of this I start to talk myself out of everything that I have any ideas about.

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    The Inner Critic

    Let me introduce you to someone. Her name is the critic, and if you are a knowledge worker or creative you know her quite well. She is the one that pipes up and tells you that you aren’t very good at something and because of that you should give up on everything.

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    Sound familiar?

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    The inner critic is something that we all experience and can lead talented and creative individuals to give up on their ideas without even trying them.

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    Personally, I have been visited by the critic too many times to count. And many of those times she has stopped me dead in my tracks on some idea about a website, article, or piece of software that I would like to create. Remember, the critic is sneaky; not only will she try to stop you dead in your tracks and force you to give up, she will sneak her way into your plans and and todo lists in the form of non-clarified next actions, forcing you to procrastinate on your goals and dreams.

    Luckily there are some ways that you can battle the Inner Critic and take over.

    1. Define exactly what you want to accomplish – also what you don’t want to accomplish
      There is nothing worse than having a project or goal that is poorly defined. The Inner Critic loves this kind of “amorphous blog of undoability” and with it tells you that, “you don’t even really know what you want in ‘life/project x/goal x’, therefore you might as well give up”.Instead, identify exactly what being done looks like and also what is outside of the scope of what you are trying to accomplish. This will ease your mind and allow you to accept that you can actually get something done.
    2. Share your thoughts with others
      One of the fastest ways to shut down the Inner Critic is to run your ideas and dreams by others. There is something about getting out of your own head; it allows you to more clearly see what you are trying to accomplish as you get instant feedback from a third-party.This type of response can prove to you that you ideas are actually good and that you can do something with them.
    3. Make constant progress
      There is nothing that the Inner Critic hates more than you actually progressing on your dream projects and goals. This type of action turns into a snowball effect where you can’t help but finish what you have started.If what you are doing is something creative, make sure to allot a certain amount of time per day to the task. No matter what give yourself this time and move forward on your project.
    4. Write, journal, diary, mindmap
      This sort of goes back to the idea of getting things out of your head. A plan that isn’t defined or at least out of your head is doomed to fail. Writing things down can help you clarify what you are trying to accomplish and can subsequently help you find what you need to do next.Also, writing every once in a while about your fears of what you are doing (or not doing) will help keep the Inner Critic at bay and allow you to concentrate on the tasks at hand.
    5. Iterate
      If you can’t seem to accomplish your tasks or keep thinking that you don’t have the skills to do so, then split them up even further, accomplish a small portion, and then come back to the next part later. Also, instead of making something perfect right-off-the-bat, make it good and then come back to it again and make it better. Keep doing this until you have accomplished what you were set out to do.Iterating in the manner can help you stave off procrastination and fear as you finish your project in smaller increments and with less stress.

    The Inner Critic can take hold of your internal talk and make you think that you are not good enough. Just remember that it has nothing to do with being “not good enough” and everything to do with not giving yourself the support that you need to move towards accomplish what you need and want to get done in your life. Use these 5 tricks to shut down the Inner Critic at first blush and move towards getting things done.

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2020

    2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

    2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

    Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

    Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

    Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

    Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

    Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

    By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

    The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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    1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

    Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

    Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

    Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

    When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

    The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

    Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

    To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

    Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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    We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

    It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

    After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

    Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

    Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

    To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

    Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

    Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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    When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

    Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

    We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

    When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

    Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

    2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

    If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

    The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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    To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

    With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

    So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

    • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
    • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
    • Say no to all else.
    • Say no again.
    • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
    • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
    • Meditate.
    • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
    • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
    • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
    • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
    • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
    • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

    Final Thoughts

    These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

    Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

    More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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