Overcoming the 10 Biggest Obstacles to Creating

Overcoming the 10 Biggest Obstacles to Creating

Guest Post by Leo Babauta

Every day I struggle with the resistance to writing, and every day I lose the struggle … but then I beat the struggle.

I lose more often than I win, but I win every day. And that’s what matters. Because we can’t get rid of the resistance to create — whether that’s creating art, starting a business, or writing. The resistance will always come up … but we have to learn how to overcome it, to work with it.

Do you face this resistance, and struggle with procrastination? Do you want to create daily, but face difficulty finding focus and fighting off distractions?

Let’s talk about creating that habit, and how to overcome the obstacles that get in the way of the creation habit.

Today I’ll share the main obstacles and what I do to overcome them.

What stands in our way of the creation habit? Here are the main ones:

  1. Distractions. We all face the problem of distractions, and we all give in to them. The only way to overcome them is to clear them away with a clean sweep: bookmark all your tabs, close your browser, close all other programs, turn off your phone, and open only the program you need for your creating. A blank text editor, a sketch pad, nothing else. Set a timer for 5 minutes, and just start. When the 5 minutes is up, congratulate yourself, let yourself be distracted, then set the timer again. You can work your way to 10-15 minutes over time, but start with 5.
  2. Fantasies about how easy/nice the creating will be. It’s not easy — it’s hard and messy. These fantasies get in the way, because when we face the reality, it never measures up to what we’d hoped. Instead, we need to recognize that our fantasies aren’t real, turn to the reality, and be grateful to be here in this moment. It’s hard and messy, but still great, and we should be thankful for the opportunity.
  3. Fear of failure. Yes, putting ourselves out there is scary, and not being good at something is frightening as hell. But how do you ever get good if you don’t try? You have to suck, daily, for a long time. Unfortunately, that’s not easy. So to get us through the suck, we have to have fun, embrace the suck, allow ourselves to play. Write a shitty first draft, work on it some more until it’s a bit better, get the help of someone who knows what they’re doing, get feedback and get better. And play around the whole time, like we did when we were kids. We didn’t stop from finger painting when we were kids because we might suck at it — we did it for the fun!
  4. Discomfort with the difficulty/confusion. It’s uncomfortable to do something that’s confusing, where we don’t know what we’re doing, filled with difficulty. The only way I’ve learned to overcome this is to sit there, as I’m feeling like quitting, and just feel the discomfort. Allow my mind to complain. Allow myself to want to quit, to feel sorry for myself. And just sit. I’ll feel this discomfort, and realize it’s not that bad. Then I can just write, even though I’m uncomfortable, and realize that I’ll be OK.
  5. Perfectionism. We want things to be great, so we nitpick and are unhappy with the results. It stops us from actually creating. So we need to smash through perfectionism, embrace shitty first drafts, and get into the habit of just putting stuff out there imperfectly. I do this by not allowing myself to edit before I publish a post. I just publish, tweet it, then go back and edit. It’s scary, but by forcing myself to put it out imperfectly, I don’t worry about perfectionism anymore.
  6. The urge to switch. As you’re trying to write/create … you’ll want to switch to something else. Check email, check social media, check the news, clean the kitchen. The timer method (5 minutes) helps to highlight this … set the timer, don’t let yourself switch to anything else until the timer is up. Just write one sentence, draw one line. Just start, then when you get the urge, sit. Stay. Feel the urge. Let your mind complain. But don’t give it anywhere to run. Then start again.
  7. Interruptions. I write in a house full of kids. I just kindly tell them I need to write for an hour (or whatever), and plug in some headphones. Or get out of the house and go somewhere with solitude.
  8. Not enough time. We are all busy. Who has the time to focus for an hour or two? Well, forget about an hour. Just do it for 5 minutes. You have that much time. Cut out some distractions, some social media, some TV, some online reading, and you have an extra 5 minutes (or more). After awhile, find another 5 minutes. If it matters, you’ll find a few minutes here and there, and put the creating first.
  9. Being tired. It’s impossible to focus and work hard when you’re tired, right? Wrong! You can do it, if you really want to. You can go for a run if you’re tired. You can carry a stranger to safety if their life is in danger, even if you’re tired. You just need to really want it. So ask yourself this: why do you want to create? Is to help others? To express yourself? To do something good for yourself or other people? How important is this intention to do good? Is it important enough to prioritize, to set aside time, to push through confusion and distractions? Is it important enough to push through tiredness? If not, just forget it.
  10. Negative self-talk. We tell ourselves, “I can’t do this,” or “I suck at this,” or “I can do this later.” This kind of self-talk, often unnoticed, can be defeating. So how do we counter it? By paying attention. Shine some light on it. Use the timer method, and when you want to quit and the timer is still going, force yourself to sit there. Listen to your talk, but don’t believe it. Your mind will do anything to get out of this work, so don’t heed its commands, but just sit there and heart the talk, like the complaints of little kids. Give your inner child some compassion, but don’t give in to the complaints!

You’re doing this for a reason that should be as important as saving the life of a loved one, or it’s not worth doing. Ask yourself how much you want this, then take the steps you need to take — sweep away distractions, put on headphones, set a timer, sit through the urge to switch, push through the tiredness.

If it’s important, you have it in you.

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If Life was Like Game of Thrones…

Hey there geeks and geekettes.  So I was minding my own business while daydreaming about Jon Snow nothing, and this thought popped into my mind.  What if life was like Game of Thrones?  I wasn’t sure where this line of thought was going to take me…so I explored it naturally.  Here are a few things that might happen if this line of reasoning were true in life:

  1. That guy who just cut you off in traffic and then made a rude gesture out the window, well, a few miles down the road, you passed his car on fire because Drogon instinctively knew the Mother of Dragons was pissed.  What? So instead of saying something rude and getting all mad, you accidentally said the command to call him under your breath.  It’s easy to utter.
  2. When that guy who sits on the Iron Throne calls you into work because Varys whispered you weren’t really using your sick days properly, you know because Varys was stalking your Instagram account and saw you out so he told everyone, you tell Varys that he has to take a message over to your bud Ramsay’s house.  Problem solved.
  3. A staff meeting is called and that one annoying co-worker, you know, the one who sneaks in late daily through the back door, never takes a day of sick leave, but can’t be found during the day, the one who shows up on “Pot Luck” day saying “Oh man, I forgot that was today!”, but eats all the food, you know that one, well, when they ask you where the meeting is, you tell them to go through that door on the right up ahead…and drat.  Someone left the moon door open.  Oops!
  4. You go to ask your boss a question, but see that fake Petyr Baelish coming out of his office and the next thing you know you are being transferred to a remote location like you came up with the idea.  What just happened?
  5. Luckily for you, while you are pondering the absurdity of this, a mysterious e-mail comes in with photos of your boss and wait, isn’t that some guy named Loras from the copy room?  Interesting.  You decide to blackmail your boss and now you have a room with a view.  Petyr is now being transferred.
  6. The CEO makes a surprise visit and is one of the most cunningly shrewd people you have ever met.  You try hard not to call him an “Angry Elf” and you feel like you’ve heard that line somewhere before, but nevertheless Tyrion took a liking to your style…especially since he somehow already knew you blackmailed the boss.  He asks you to work for him immediately.
  7. While working for your new boss, you discover someone trying to pilfer from the monthly coffee and snack collection funds.  You let him know and he tells you to assign that person to a new outpost…beyond the wall.
  8. You think your new boss drinks too much…during the day.  But you understand.  You met his sister once and she would drive you to drink as well.  You shrug and just get to the liquor store like he asked you…after all, you don’t want to be late with his breakfast.
  9. You start to feel like you are being followed, and when you look behind you, you notice a really large woman.  You think nothing of it, but decide to run around the corner anyway just to see what happens.  As you duck behind a trashcan, the large woman shouts out that she was sent to protect you.  Considering the way things have been going…she might be telling the truth, but just in case she isn’t, you snap a photo of her and post it on FB to everyone you know saying “Who is this crazy lady?”  You can’t be bothered calling the police.  Asking your social network is probably safer.

Check out this cool quiz to see who you played in this story!  Which Game of Thrones Character Are You?

Aimee’s note: these are ramblings of a writer who works with 3 dachshunds so no reference to your real life boss is actually reflected.  But always ask yourself “What would Tyrion do?”…

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3 Things You Can Do To Supercharge Your Ability To FOCUS and Create POSITIVE Outcomes

I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Maria.  She is my guest blogger today, and her bio is at the end of this post!

We all have dreams, ideas and goals…but it’s only when you take ACTION that dreams take shape. Action makes dreams come true. Action is the only way to achieve results.

With hectic schedules, a society so heavily indebted to instant gratification and “bigger, better, faster, more…” how is it possible to stay focused on what you want to achieve?

“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” ~Peter Marshall

When big projects and big ideas are in front of you…sometimes the enthusiasm from your inspiration gets watered down and you experience analysis paralysis. The reality is, however, that it’s better just to get things done and they don’t have to be perfect.

In fact, there are very specific things you can do to achieve massive success, if you’re willing to open the gateway to more clarity and improved action that help you stay focused:

1. Invest in your mind and body by starting your day between 4am and 5am doing the same ritual you can easily commit to EVERY DAY. Your ritual should nourish your mind and body AND be so simplified you can do it on “auto pilot.” For instance, begin by hydrating your body with warm water and lemon, stretching and meditation. More important, as you become accustomed to early hours, you’ll find that no matter how many people live under the same roof with you…YOU will find time alone without interruption. You’ll discover your body will benefit from the hydration and stretching and your mind will also find clarity, flexibility and more inspiration about the things YOU choose to focus on.

The Ayurveda lifestyle believes in routine and that one should wake up about 1 to 1 ½ hours before sunrise so that your body can synchronize with the rhythm of the sun. They consider this time most auspicious and meditation at this time helps your mental performance.

As an early riser you’ll discover time to work on the projects that matter to you. By waking up early you get a head start on your day and your schedule. The most creative and productive hours tend to be early morning hours (while most others are sleeping).

Think about it. If you have an average 40 hour work week…adding even only one hour a day to your day, you’ll have nearly one additional work day added to your week! Early morning will give you the biggest benefit because it’ll be uninterrupted. You’ll own the day, rather than the day owning you.

“If you are willing to do only what’s easy, life will be hard. But if you are willing to do what’s hard, life will be easy.” ~T. Harv Eker

2. Schedule Your Day using the Ivy Lee Method. At the end of each day write down a list of the 6 MOST IMPORTANT things you need to accomplish for tomorrow. Prioritize them. Each day concentrate on the first task until it’s complete and then move on to the second task. Repeat the process every day. This may sound simple but it has some very deep roots that inherently force you to stay focused and it’ll have you make the (difficult) decisions necessary to fully complete the task at hand. You can read the story about how one of the richest men in the world, Charles M. Schwab, President of Bethlehem Steel paid Ivy Lee $25,000 after receiving this advice for free solely because of the tremendous value it brought him and the progress it gave his company.
“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.” ~Jim Rohn
3. Remove the mind clutter from decision-making. In other words, instead of having to make choices every day about various things in your life (stealing time away from your focus), make more of your decisions and tasks streamline. Like item #1, starting your day with a ritual so easy you can do it on autopilot…what other things can you do to save time so that you can invest more time in other more important actions?

For example, did you ever notice Steve Jobs wear the exact same thing every day when he was with us? That’s right, jeans and a basic black turtleneck. Or how about Mark Zuckerberg…aside from Facebook, he’s known for wearing jeans and a hoodie. They both saved time by eliminating the burden of daily choices via their apparel. This alone has been documented and found to be a common trait and mindset of the successful entrepreneur.

Another way to remove mind clutter from decision-making is through meal planning. I choose the same breakfast smoothie every day. It’s a no-brainer, healthy, and easy. I also encourage busy moms to make Saturday or Sunday your cooking day and make foods to have available the rest of the week for lunches (chicken, lentils, washed/cut greens for salad, soup, cut apples with lemon juice, etc…). It saves time thinking about what to eat and removes the incentive to go out to eat (something less healthy). This goes a long way to saving you time during a busy week AND it keeps you healthy AND if you’re eating healthy…the mind stays clear, making it easier for you to focus.

There’s a reason Mind-Body-Spirit are lumped together. When they’re working in alignment, you’ll be operating with everything you have available to you (coming from you and through you).

“We are the creative force of our life, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions, if we carefully learn to do certain things,
we can accomplish those goals.” ~Steven Covey
The three tips in this article give you the ability to master your day so that you can invest your valuable time rather than spend time on less valuable things.

Mastering your day is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself: magnifying your focus, improving your action plan, ultimately gaining you results.

The bottom line is this…no matter what plans, dreams, goals you have…if you can’t lead yourself in doing them, there is no way you’ll be able to lead others no matter what area of life you’re wanting to focus on (from personal to professional).

Maria_bioBIO: Maria Flynn is the creator or OneWiseLife.com (OWL) an online magazine dedicated to helping you tap IN and turn ON your inner wisdom and create the life you love. A Reiki Master and Intuitive, Maria has also been researching and writing personal development articles for nearly 10 years, using this medium to help herself and others around the globe.

3 ways to motivate yourself…

Are you in a rut?  Read on for motivation.

Have you ever heard the old saying “do what you love and love what you do?”  Well, if you haven’t heard it, stop and think about it for a moment.  If you can’t bear the thought of getting out of bed one more morning to go to your J.O.B. (Just Over Boring-Ass-Work), then it might be time to change things up a little bit.  But before you write your resignation, stop for a minute and take a good hard look at how you are coming into work.  Do you come to work fully prepared or are you scrambling everyday to get things done?  Do you greet people, you know everyone, not just the people in your work “clique”, with a smile?  What about that guy who gets on your nerves?  Mr. Loud on the phone?  Instead of blowing up at him one day, try giving him a compliment.  I know it’s difficult.  Trust me on this.  But try.  See if you can love what you do, and after trying this for a while, then think hard on what you want out of life.

Add some movement to your day.  This might seem like a little thing, but if you are working in a cubicle with no windows, set a timer.  Grab an office buddy and say hey, we need to take a walking break at lunch.  Let’s get out for a bit.  If you can’t leave your office, walk around it for a while.  I know this sounds funny, but do it.  Take the stairs, take extra hallways, just add extra movement.  I know someone who stands to use their computer…and I recently read an article on a treadmill system for the computer.  I am definitely not there yet.  But do some research on how being inactive harms the health…and then present a plan to your boss.  You know adding a pull-up bar to your doorway for folks.  Ha.  That’d be funny.  Nope, not today Fred.  You can’t come in until you do a pull-up, we’ll have to reschedule.  Only not so funny if Fred is your boss:)

Make small goals…that are actually achievable.  I love lists.  I have paper everywhere in my house.  Calendars.  Notebooks.  But I just bought this awesome list type notebook with quotes at the bottom of each page.  I might have a thing for quotes you know.  Anyway, I am jotting down 5 goals for each day.  Today I did yoga first thing in the morning at home before all my other work.  Erm…thus me writing later than usual, but HEY, I did one of my goals.  It feels good to be able to mark something off a list.  I have no idea why, but it does.  Maybe because I work from home and I am my own boss, but still.  Goals are important to me.  I made sure I followed up with clients, posted wellness tips, talked to another person I am helping with some goal planning, and finished writing another article I needed to write.  I like to get things done.  If you are not getting things done, put them where you can see them!  Mark those bad boys off.

As always, thank you for leaving me a comment on what works best to motivate you through your day.  And don’t forget the little social media sharing devices when you like love my tips!  Thank you readers.3 ways to motivate

See the top tab on Head|Heart|Health Club if you loved these tips!

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Crab Mentality…

Dear support system,

You are not crabs and for that, I thank you.  Insert obvious, what is Aimee talking about, thought.  I have been fighting extremely hard to get out of the bucket.  Each time I get closer, a thought pulls me back down.  Just like crabs in the bucket.  This metaphor was used this weekend.  Individually, the crabs could easily escape from the pot, but instead, they grab at each other in a useless competition which prevents them from escaping and actually making it out.  Hmmm.  Sound familiar?

So I took this and spun it while reflecting on what Warren Barfield said.  You see my problem is sometimes all it takes is one crab.  Just one.  A doctor telling me that there is no cure for autoimmune, fibromyalgia, etc.  A friend telling me no, they are not interested in my business, which is their choice by the way, or someone speaking negative thoughts in my ear about how I won’t be able to grow my business.  These thoughts become like crabs in my head and they pull me down.  Over and over again.  Until now.

I am going to succeed in my personal business, Vitalize You, and I am going to change lives.  I am not promising you anything you can’t already achieve, but I am promising you guidance on your journey.  So to all my customers and fans, thank you for believing in my adventure.  For lifting me out of the bucket when I needed it instead of pulling me back down…because believe me, I do enough of that on my own.

crab mentality

See tab Vitalize You for more about why I started my business.

Motivational Monday…procrastination

Procrastination.  Excuses.  Reasons why your path looks like Billy’s from The Family Circus when he had a job to do.  I don’t want to hear it.  We all know deep down what’s holding us back and usually it has one name.  Fear.  You need to pull a Bruce Willis on that thing and just go for it.

Things do come up.  I know they do.  But if you let these “things” get in the way of your goals, then your life will become a string of excuses.  I meant to do that, but…   We were going to, but…  I’m not saying I don’t have my own fears because I do.  I certainly do.  It’s just that I am ridiculous when it comes to them and do stupid things to get over them so I can move on.  Like the time I got bit by a snake, then was afraid of snakes for a while.  So then I volunteered at the local Virginia Living Museum, and learned how to stick my hand in a pillow case and pull out a snake.  Yes.  True story.  I also learned how to identify which ones were venomous in my area.

Quitting my job when I had no extra income was like sticking my hand in that pillow case.  I knew when I went on my “sabbatical” I was never going back.  I knew I needed more.  Starting my business was that more.  I love getting messages from clients asking me for help.  That’s brave of them as well.  They have tried lots of things to lose weight, feel better, get healthy, but for whatever reason, fear, they need a little extra help.  And that’s ok.  I did too!!  I was afraid I was going to stay stuck at my old weight forever.  When I got on the scale and realized how much I weighed compared to old me, I was shocked.  At 5’2 I knew I needed to get a handle on it.

When I put all my research skills into formulating a plan that worked best for my diseases and body, I knew I was finally on the right track in December.  I have now lost 14 pounds, but I am not done.  I have 6 more to go, and the extra 20 will be gone.  I am going to be adding yoga back into my routine again and I will also write about that.  I have been being a taxi cab, so I made excuses why I didn’t make it to yoga.  I sat down today and wrote out the yoga schedule so it was in front of my face!!! I know that going back worries me.  I am afraid it will hurt because of my existing pain, but I know that it will help me.  I have researched exercises for fibromyalgia and this is one of them.  So, I’m going to pull a Die Hard and go for it.  Stick your hand in that pillow case folks.  Go for it!!

 

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I can’t turn it off…

If there was ever a time I needed to turn off my brain, it would be now.  I saw the signs leading up to it.  They have always been there.  I just THINK too much.  I think too much to meditate.  I think too much during yoga…well, when I went.  I think too much when I’m trying to go to bed…so I read until it’s impossible to think and I finally fall into deep sleep (with the help of some all-natural pills).  I think so much that when a friend invited me to “Mindfulness” day, I thought it was “Mind full of mess” and quickly accepted.  Oh wait, that’s not it.  Okay, because I totally have that day on repeat.

I even thought too much when I went to a relaxing float spa.  Don’t ask.  Alien pod, you float.  Thoughts of cryogenics and freezing me for later awakenings might have entered my mind.  That or being trapped in there.  And maybe, do they clean this thing?  Am I floating in someone’s healing water because I hope this is fresh.  How much salt is in here?  Hmm.  This place is hot.  I wonder if this is like the temperature of the jungle or something?  No Hawaii, wait how would I know?  Maybe this is like a hot spring.  Yeah.  I wonder if this is healing me now?  Oh yeah, that nice lady told me she hated this pillow for my head, but I like it because she also told me not to get my ear wet if I ever had ear problems.  Remember that one time when your ear drum burst?  Yes.  Worst pain ever.  How will I know when this thing is done?  How much time has passed?  Oh that’s right, the music cues up to remind me.  I had just dozed off when the music came back on and the jets started signaling it was over.

By the time I was done “relaxing”, I needed to relax.  Every single day, I write at least 3 blogs in my head as I am trying to fall asleep.  They are usually quite awesome, but I will myself to stay there and go to bed.  So some strategies I am GOING to start using are as follows:

  1. Stop looking at my phone.  The only way to do this is to un-install FB from my phone.  No lie.  I have done it before.  I lasted a week.  It was better than nothing.  Stupid Smart phone.  It flashes, and makes noise.  Stop.
  2. Get back to nature.  I love being outside and this winter has dragged on, and on, and ON.  And on.  Like the Groundhog Day movie itself.  Cold is not my friend.
  3. Get back to yoga…I will eventually do this one. I will.
  4. Pull weeds.  That’s right.  Gardening is good for the soul.
  5. Get to bed on time…which essentially means shutting down an hour earlier.  Making myself stick to “business” hours since I work from home has been difficult.
  6. Drink turmeric milk before bed.  Ahhh.  It’s tasty and healing.  See my Pinterest board.
  7. Remind myself that I have to let go of things that are out of my control.  Poof.

So, give over to this energy that creates dreams and let go of the energy you are spinning in all directions.  If you know how to do this, feel free to let me know:)

Author’s note:  This post was created before I became a yoga instructor…and before I created my meditative style of journaling.  See the Head|Heart|Health Club for the ways I really do turn it off.

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