I remember feeling stuck. I remember being uninspired. I remember not believing in any of my ideas. I remember being completely burned out. I remember not wanting to work with anyone because I didn’t trust anyone. I remember not feeling like I had support, so I didn’t act.
All of these are reasons why you’re likely in a creative rut. Many blocks stem from the same root: Lack of Exposure.
You know the old sayings: birds of a feather flock together; if you’re the smartest person in the room you likely need to find a new room; you’re the product of the five people you hang with most; you are what you eat, etc.
What you surround yourself by is what you eventually become. What you know is what you will eventually emulate and do.
There’s always room for improvement, but the moment you stop taking opportunities to learn and apply what you learn then you’re trapping yourself. You place an unnecessary limitation upon yourself. I believe all life deserves to grow and deserves to make progress. It’s not natural to stay stagnant.
Time can pass but the only way to truly grow is to commit to being an intentional lifelong learner. You may be finished with school. You may have never completed your degree. It doesn’t matter. Your learning should be taken into your hands.
You may not know what you want to do next. Honestly, you don’t always have to know the full picture. No big decision I’ve ever made came with all the pieces. Sometimes you just need to take the next best possible micro-step forward and that can make the world of a difference.
The good news is there is no human universal issue that someone hasn’t already tackled. So no you don’t have to stay stuck in your rut. I know some really smart people follow me. But I also know that even us smart people need reminders to stay on track.
So below, I give you 10 ways you can untangle your frustration and come out of your rut. The fact that you’re questioning things is a great sign that you know you’re valuable and deserve something more. Now let’s level up!
- Read books and blogs not just for entertainment, but for educational purposes as well. Read biographies of people you admire. Read self-help and self-improvement. Read books related to your identity. Read on places you want to go. Read up on activities you want to master. Read up on your privilege and how it allows you to move through society. Read. Read. Read.
- Listen and watch prominent people offer free keys on podcasts and YouTube videos. The podcasts app on iTunes is filled with free content to stream. Everything is a search away on YouTube. Seek and you shall find.
- Travel. Vacations are great for relaxation but find opportunities to get off the resort and immerse yourself in local culture and learn about lifestyles other than your own from the people who live there. You don’t have to go far either or to a popular destination. It could mean going to the next town over. Take a different way home. Traveling for me happens as soon as I walk down a block I’ve never been on before in New York and discover something new. It’s all about your perspective.
- Make the most of your break time. During a break at work, read or listen to something valuable instead of just scrolling your timeline. Take advantage of commutes. The U.S. Census says the average American’s commute is 26 minutes. Depending on where you live, that could be less or longer. If driving, you can listen to audiobooks and podcasts. If on public transport, read, write your thoughts, edit a blog post, draft a pitch, design something, brainstorm.
- Unplug. Take time to do more activities that involve limited to no technology. Cooking, a long writing block, working out, meditating or long walks in nature. Sometimes it’s too many voices and ideas and you need to tune it all out and relax your senses.
- Attend workshops, webinars, Twitter chats, meet-ups, seminars, panel discussions, e-courses, discussion circles and conferences. There are tons to choose from out there. Some are free and depending on the theme and interest it’s always an opportunity to learn something new and surround yourself with other amazing learners. If you want to learn more about an event, find the hashtag and read up on the tweets and Instagram photos to get a feel of the event and feedback on what went down. You might be able to reach out to someone who attended to get insight.
- Join digital communities. My favorite communities are the now defunct TN District (travel group), MIM Connect (media career group) and Dream Catchers: Live Richer (financial tips group). By being in these groups I’ve been able to share ideas and resources, made new friends, shared my work and found leads on new opportunities. When you go to panels and meet important people who you look up to, don’t just take a photo with them for the gram. Find out what groups they’re part of, what courses, books, blogs, conferences, podcasts and other information they’re currently into at the moment and follow them.
- Detox. Consider people, places, habits and material possessions that no longer serve you and clear them out. They can end up stifling you in the long run and may be the thing hindering your productivity and overall success. Get help on these topics via reading or seeking expert professional help.
- Organize, prioritize and set deadlines. Your ideas can happen as long as you set achievable goals and have a date to accomplish them in mind. I love using Google Drive, especially Google sheets, to organize all of my ideas. I have the apps on my phone and can access them wherever I go to jot down a quick thought.
- Subscribe to people smarter than you on social media. If you’re not on social media, that’s fine. There are many great newsletters out there. Right now I’m subscribed to The Muse (career advice), Blkcreatives (motivation for black creatives), NYTimes running (tips to get you out there and keep you out there) and The Flight Deal (lists of cheap flights everyday) just to name a few. They bring the knowledge straight to your inbox and I don’t have to go looking for it.
With all that being said, I tend to come across a lot of great information that has helped me travel better and create more effectively and I wanted to share them with people. This is one of the reasons why I launched my newsletter #DroppinGems last month. The second issue arrives Nov. 3.
I’m also excited because this week I am distributing my first free newsletter gem guide, exclusively for subscribers called the “Three-Minute Instagram Audit.” I will be releasing one guide a month.
Instagram is fun to use but it’s also a great platform for doers like yourself to promote whatever it is you’re working on. I want to share some of the information I’ve learned about the platform to help you leverage your career, business, creative portfolio, brand, organization, service, product or campaign.
Sign up to receive tomorrow’s newsletter and to get access to the PDF when it drops at 11AM EST.
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