Really want to achieve your dreams? Then let me ask you this: what is your problem?
No, I’m not trying to pick a fight. I mean that in a literal way:
What issue(s) are you trying to solve so you’ll feel better than you do right now?
Do you want to build a billion dollar business?
Do you want an amazing marriage?
Do you want to write the next great novel?
Do you want to bake the perfect banana cream pie?
Do you want to shake thirty-five pounds off your body and keep that weight off? (If so, don’t hang out with the person trying to bake the perfect banana cream pie.)
WHATEVER your “problem” — your point A — may be, there is only one thing that will get you to the solution — your Point B — which is the achievement of your dream: Your creativity.
Because by it’s simplest and truest definition, creativity means the act of making something. Making something happen that isn’t happening now. Making something exist that currently does not exist.
Without taking this action — without your creativity — the things you want and need go nowhere. But these unfulfilled ambitions don’t merely go nowhere. They in fact pull you down deeper and deeper into frustration and even misery because you aren’t DOING anything about them.
Indeed, being creative is absolutely required for you to solve any problem — to achieve any goal and dream — you have.
For two decades now it’s basically been my job and passion to help individuals and organizations get unstuck, stay unstuck, and make themselves become whatever they most desire to be. In that time, I’ve discovered there are 6 very big enemies to creativity.
Here they are, in countdown order to the biggest, baddest enemy #1:
ENEMY #5: SELF-SABOTAGING EXPECTATIONS
Rome wasn’t built in a day. That’s such a tired old cliche, but I looked it up and it is still historically accurate.
It takes time to solve your problem, to achieve your dream. And the bigger the problem — the more important your dream — the more time it takes.
Yet what I see constantly, and not only with the younger folks, is the expectation of success fast.
In part we owe it to our “Give it to me now” culture for this expectation. And it is mighty destructive.
People will let themselves feel like a “failure” when they haven’t built their Rome in a day, or even a year. This feeling chews away at their ability to create, so all they’re eventually left with from their creativity is just ivity. Whatever the heck that is.
The point is, be ambitious in your expectations, but not ridiculous in them. And stay aware of your expectations as you move forward. Remember it takes time, and ongoing effort too, which brings us to…
ENEMY #4: DREAMING WITHOUT DOING
Thomas Edison said that “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration.” The same thing goes for creating your dream. You have to work at it. A lot. It’s as simple (and complicated) as that.
Ideas are nice and all that. But they are a dime a dozen. Generating ideas, even the great ones, is the easy part.
It is executing on your idea — moving forward no matter what to solve your problem — that makes dreams come true.
And I’ve seen that many people are pretty darned good about moving forward… for a little while. Until the “excitement” factor wears off and the going gets tough. Author Seth Godin calls that point “The Dip,” and it’s where most people give up.
Meanwhile, the few who keep going when things get discouraging or downright sucky are the ones who succeed.
Right at the start, when you’re planning to build or create anything, one of the smartest things you can plan for is getting disheartened and feeling like giving up once you’re past that exciting beginning stage of anything. And plan to keep going anyway.
Because 9 times out 10 people do hit that big (and often long) frustration point, where it feels like nothing is going right, no one is paying attention, what’s the point of doing this, whoa is me, etcetera.
Being AWARE at the start that this point will come, though, is a powerful defense. Because when it does arrive, it won’t catch you by surprise. You’ll have the upper-hand on it — “Aha, Demoralization, I knew you’d come. I’ve got something for you!” — and you’ll pull out the commitment you made to keep pushing forward anyway.
But how can you keep going on those days you just don’t feel like it? Here’s one simple trick to get motivated that I’ve seen is a fast and powerful way to overcome procrastination. Or search the “Motivation” section of this site, Pick The Brain, for many others!
ENEMY #3: WAITING FOR THE MUSE
Maybe you are moving forward to achieving your dream… but very, very slowly because you “wait for the muse.”
The “muse” is that sweet angel of inspiration and energy that occasionally visits you and, as if she’s made of rocket fuel, just jets you forward in creating high-volume, high-quality work.
The problem, though, is that this Rocket Fuel Muse typically doesn’t visit often… and she’s unpredictable as to when she might visit.
In other words, if you wait for the muse, you will likely be waiting until you are dead.
Again, you instead have to work at it. Routinely. As often as possible… and the more you want that dream, the more you need to work on it.
A funny thing happens, by the way, when you really bust your butt routinely no matter what to achieve your dream… the muse tends to visit a whole lot more.
The muse is attracted to the sound of effort.
ENEMY #2: NEGATIVE NELLY
“You can’t… You shouldn’t… You never will! Give it up! You’re not good enough!”
These are some of Negative Nelly’s favorite phrases. And she is always very busy trying to make your life grey.
You should know that she’s not human. She’s more like a demon that possesses humans.
Sometimes she tries to drag your dreams and your life down through the voice of people in the present, like certain family members, your boss or co-workers, or friends.
Sometimes she harasses you through the voice of people in your past, such as parents or siblings or teachers or friends when you were younger.
But her FAVORITE method of trying to jade you is by getting right there inside your head, making you believe she is actually YOU.
But she is not you. Ever. The negative thoughts in your head trying to provoke you into believing you haven’t got what it takes… that you should give up or not even start … are NEVER EVER YOU.
You are the one with the big goal, the dream… and if you can think it, you can do it.
When Negative Nelly spits out her ugly words, therefore, don’t try to fight her (she enjoys that). Instead, step back, accept that she is there but she is not you, let her pass, and then get on with your doing.
She’s like a bad storm… don’t take her personally, and don’t waste your energy fighting her, and she will pass.
ENEMY #1: THE “EXPERT” MIND
The “expert” mind is one very strong and sneaky enemy.
It usually goes after, and often brings down, those individuals and organizations who have already enjoyed some previous success from their previous efforts, such as Fortune 500 companies, famous actors and actresses, celebrated chefs and authors, and the like.
With just a little practice, though — and some striving to be humble thrown in — you can learn to spot it and stop it from destroying your dreams and success.
First of all, whether it is inside your organization or inside your head, WATCH OUT for this kind of thinking:
> “I am better at this than almost anyone.”
> “What the heck do they know? We are the pros!”
> “I already know that. And that. And that.”
> “I’ve been doing this for 10 (20, 50, etc.) years… I’m not worried about them.”
> “I am an expert at this.”
This kind of thinking is deadly. This kind of thinking thwarts creativity and stops innovation and productivity in their tracks.
Back to old Thomas Edison, who said, “We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything.”
And he’s still right. Much as your individual or your organization’s collective ego wants to congratulate you on what an amazing expert you are, there really are NO experts at anything.
While IBM was busy acting like the “expert,” Microsoft was busy innovating, eventually knocking them off their perches. Then while Microsoft was busy acting like the “expert,” along came Google, and Apple, and Facebook. And so it goes.
One of the most beautiful ideas from Buddhism — and one of my strongest recommendations — is to always maintain the “student mind.” A humble mind that acknowledges that, no matter how much you have learned, you still don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything… even in your field where others may consider you an expert (let them think that way about you, but never fall for the nonsense yourself.)
Or in other words, strive to remain a wide-eyed, humble, open-minded student no matter how much of an expert other people say you are.
So there you have it. Beware of these 5 enemies to your creativity — keep them out, kick them out if they sneak in — and you will achieve your dreams. Problem solved.
Brian Vaszily is the founder of AdvantageHacks.com, which publishes unique content like “What Would You Do If There Were NO Repercussions for Doing It?” that can improve your life and make you say “Huh!” and things like it. He’s the author of multiple books, including the #1 bestseller, The 9 Intense Experiences: An Action Plan to Change Your Life Forever, is a popular speaker, and has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS and other major media.