While in college, I spent three years working at a bar inside the international terminal at LAX where I had different customers every night. It was one of my most favorite jobs because I talked to people every night and never ran out of ideas to write about. The profound things drunk strangers say can get your creative juices flowing really quickly, and you can learn so much on any given night.
Now, in my thirties, when I read more often than I did in college and I work harder-merely out of pure survival, however I still feel mentally dead. I try to come up with good ideas, but I feel stuck.
Now I could blame years of chronic stress from being a single mom, lack of exercise and even prescription drugs and poor nutrition that may have altered my brain’s chemistry, but I feel that the most contributors were things that I have the power to change today:
Lack of Will
As I continued working, coming home late nights tired and eating unhealthy foods, I realized that my will power battery was slowly draining. While I’ve been the one to constantly preach that will power is a temporary state that must be balanced with consistent action, I found my will and desire to learn fade in and out.
What can you do? Show up anyway. Show up every day. There will always be days where you don't feel like it or make excuses, but show up anyway and let the action steps overpower your lack of will. Roald Dahl, writer of several famous children's books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, sat down at his desk every day, whether he wrote or not.
When working at a huge company of 1000 people, I felt the most isolated I have ever felt at work. The people I sat near did not work with me on any projects, so there was no brainstorming sessions, idea creations and we were in the middle of a turf war between department leaders. .
What can you do? Get out of your cubicle. And if you are a writer like me, or you have any creative job that requires isolation for creating and executing, then rely on working on your art in blocks of time each day. For writers, you can only write so many hours in the day, the rest is of your time is mostly marketing, answering customers and outlining the next day’s work.
I’ve wasted countless hours worrying about the future to where I can’t focus on anything else. Constant worrying will have a negative compound effect on your brain, your muscle tension, your overall health, so if you are like me where anxiety is your worst enemy, you will find yourself wasting time.
What can you do? Relax. Find someone or something that can help ease your worrying and endless thoughts racing through your mind about things that probably won’t happen. I’ve used breathing, meditation and hypnosis, not to mention professional therapy. What was the most successful for me was hypnosis, I find myself staying calm when needed.
I can let alone sleep, I can’t relax! Then we hope for the best but expect the worst. This technique works for some situations, but not all. Think of the absolute worse case scenario and then you can realize that you can find a way through it. Then think of a middle ground situation, where you don’t lose everything, but there are some losses. Then think of the best case scenario. You can then feel a little better that the situation wasn’t so bad, and by the time you face the outcome, you realize that nothing is ever as bad as it seemed.
Sometimes we go numb, so numb that I’m often called passive or I come across as if I have no feelings. There are so many things I am passionate about, but I can’t seem to be expressive or be around certain people. Conversations seem less engaging and although you try to show a genuine interest in people, it still comes across as being too shy, quiet and passive.
What can you do? Work on your voice. Practice speaking up, and share your knowledge, comments and insight when you have the chance. You may start to connect with people more and then show more of your emotional side and the apathetic feelings may soon disintegrate. When you don’t speak up, then you’re not showing any side and you can eventually lose your voice.
A wise mentor, who encouraged me to use my voice, said to me, "when you don't have a voice, people think you're crazy." I let all these negative factors keep me from creating, and I can't stand the thought of wasting another minute worrying, or being isolated and not living my full potential and you shouldn't either. Keep creating!