The 9 Biggest Obstacles to Creativity … and How to Overcome Them

by | May 13, 2020 | Creativity

When the world changes practically overnight — like during this COVID-19 pandemic — what quality is most likely to help you and your business make it through? Creativity! However, many of us face obstacles to creativity each and every day.

Humans are creative by nature. Alas, few of us use it to the best of our ability.

Think of this: Your ancestors wouldn’t have survived without creativity. Therefore, you are creative, as well — even if you don’t consciously acknowledge it. In fact, one of the biggest obstacles to creativity is the belief that you’re not creative!

Creativity is a very personal process. Ask any three traditionally creative individuals — artists, musicians, writers, etc. — and you’ll probably get three different answers to, “What is your creative process?” Ask them what obstacles they face to their creativity and how they overcome them and, again, you’ll get three different answers.

I can’t possibly know what obstacles you have in the way of your creativity, however, I can predict that they are included in the ones listed below. Take a look and discover some tips on how to overcome your particular obstacles, thereby enhancing your creativity in the process.

9 Biggest Obstacles to Creativity

1. Distractions

Distraction is most likely the biggest obstacle to any creative process. If you want to focus on just one tip, this is the one. There are two ways to deal with distraction: Eliminate them or improve your ability to focus despite them. A two-pronged approach is best.

  • Remove as many distractions from your work area as possible. Identify the things that distract you and take them out of your work environment. This can mean different things to different people. Perhaps having music or the television on in the background is a distraction. Move them out of your workspace, or move your workspace elsewhere. Perhaps having a bunch of things to do on your mind distracts you. Put them on a list and schedule them so you can relax your mind.
  • Learn to ignore those distractions you can remove. Believe it or not, it is possible to improve your ability to ignore distractions with practice.

2. A lack of an end goal

Be clear on what you’re attempting to create. Have a clear vision for the end result. Be targeted in your approach. That’s where a combination of brainstorming and planning can help. Brainstorming lets you get all your myriad ideas out of your head. Planning helps you bring clarity from the chaos of ideas. Believe it or not, sometimes boundaries (rules, deadlines and other limiting factors) can actually enhance creativity and remove obstacles to creativity.

3. A lack of practice

You get better at being creative through practice. You can’t expect to be highly creative if you haven’t created anything in the last five years. Stretch your creative muscles on a regular basis. That’s why people say the “writers write” or “dancers dance.” Making yourself express your creativity — however that might take form — on a regular basis helps you annihilate obstacles to creativity from ever materializing.

4. Negative self-talk

Negative self-talk leads to a fear of failure and procrastination. When you doubt yourself, your creativity is compromised. Replace your negativity with positivity. When you find yourself having a negative thought, change it into a positive one. As Emmet Fox says, don’t “entertain” the thought. If it helps, create a trigger phrase that can pull you out of the negative and into the positive.

Barring that, you can ignore the negative things you say to yourself and press on. Just say, “thank you for sharing” to yourself and step over that particular obstacle to creativity.

5. Poor sleep or nutrition

You might find your creativity enhanced when you’re comfortably tired or have an empty stomach. In most cases, however, the opposite is true. Get enough sleep and eat properly if you want your creativity powers at full power.

6. The need to be perfect

Although the results may be beautiful, often the process of creating is ugly and messy. Most ideas don’t work and aren’t even remotely useful. (I’ve lost count of the number of ideas I’ve had that, after the rush of excitement that comes with coming up with them, I’ve had to trash because I couldn’t implement them in an effective or meaningful way.)

That’s okay. The first draft of anything is usually not the best, whether you’re writing a novel, painting a picture, or developing a business strategy. The need to be perfect is an excuse to procrastinate. Worry about perfecting your idea in the future. The beginning of the process isn’t the time.

7. Expecting creation to be easy

If you can consistently create something valuable, you can count yourself among the richest people in the world. Creation is hard work, and there’s a lot of failure along the way. Expect the process to be challenging and you’ll rarely be disappointed. Embrace the challenge and push yourself.

8. Being too practical

The best ideas often require outside-the-box thinking. Avoid being too practical at the beginning of the creative process. Dare to be outrageous and consider a few offbeat ideas. Remember, what may not be practical when you first think of it may turn out be to completely doable once you’ve had time to flesh out the idea. Remember, the most creative people in history were ridiculed and considered crackpots — at first.

9. Doubting your ability to be creative and overcome obstacles to creativity

The Mind Goblin of self-doubt is a formidable foe. However, I want to assure you that everyone — including you — is more creative than they’ll ever need to be. Some are more aware of this fact than others. If you label yourself as lacking creativity, your ability to be creative is severely compromised. You’re already creative, but you need to believe it to make the most of it.

Avoiding the Obstacles to Creativity Is Half the Battle

Avoiding the common obstacles listed above will help to unleash the creativity that already resides inside of you. Then you just need to take the wheel of your imagination-mobile and drive!

You are creative because you are human. To deny your creativity is to deny part of what makes you a human being. Unleash your creativity in the world and surprise yourself in the process. You’ll be amazed by what you can do.

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