How to stay in a creative rut

1. Keep comparing what you need to do with what others need to do.

And focus on the seeming inequality of it all. Your work is so demanding, your circumstances so difficult. No one else understands the struggle.

2. Don’t admit that your perspective might be skewed.

Don’t admit that your work will always seem more difficult to you, because it is your own.

You face the details of it, the daily overwhelming pressure of all the obligations and duties of your own life. It’s easy to underestimate what other people are dealing with because of the distance that separates you from them.

But don’t think about that.

3. Keep comparing your struggle with someone else’s success.

The comparison mindset sees successful people and thinks, “I can never be that awesome. I can never do XYZ thing that that successful person does. I can barely do ABC. I’m such a bum. I’ll never make my goals…”

It might play out in any sort of language in your head, but the gist of it is this: “I’m not enough.”

And the truth of it is that you’re not enough to be someone else.
You’re not enough like any other person to be successful in his or her life.
But you are enough of who you are to be successful at your own life.

If you focus on that, and quit wasting your time on foolish comparisons, you’ll see success in your own struggle.

To stay stuck, comfortably, in your rut, beat yourself down with the impossible idea that you should achieve someone else’s success. You’ll find it easy to give up after that.

4. Keep pushing yourself too far past your physical limits.

Do you have any of these habits? All of them, maybe? You’ll want to stick with them to keep that tired, fatigued, semi-depressed feeling:

  • habitually staying up too late and/or getting up too early so you never get adequate sleep
  • failing to give your brain time to rest and recharge from the constant inflow of information and interaction that fills your days (and nights)
  • not providing enough good, clean water to your body so that it can flush out toxins and stay strong, healthy, and energetic
  • not consuming enough fresh, healthy, living food that provides the resources your body desperately craves
  • taking on every obligation that comes your way
  • overloading your calendar and your to-do list
  • complaining about what people expect from you instead of asking for help
  • scheduling time for exercise, rest, family, and yourself

Are you pushing yourself past the perfectly normal, reasonable, physical limits that you have?
That will keep you stuck.

It’s really hard to get your internal motivation up high enough to overcome physical fatigue, dehydration, illness, and lethargy.

You’ll get so used to ‘feeling tired all the time’ that it feels normal.

5. Keep ignoring the need to have a system for your work.

You know you don’t really need a system because your work is too simple.
I mean, really.
It’s not rocket science. You can wing it.
You can muster up the self-discipline to meet those deadlines.

You can juggle stuff, and sure, you drop things now and then. There’s been a rash of unfinished projects… You haven’t been putting out your best work lately…

But, c’mon.

That has nothing to do with needing a system, a solid routine, a decent workflow. That’s just overcomplicating everything.

You don’t need a system.

You don’t need to take the time to think about what kind of system will work best and then create it and then use it.

You can just keep working from that haphazard system that you have to recreate daily.

You can afford to waste time. No big deal.

6. Keep blaming everybody else for your lack of focus.

A lot of your distraction comes from the lack of a system, but keep on blaming other people for it instead.

Don’t take responsibility yourself. That would be heavy, too heavy. It’s obviously not your fault, even though you haven’t done much to cultivate the habit of focus.

Focusing your brain on something particular for an extended period of time is tough work. It’s not a natural state for our distracted brains. It’s okay to avoid tough work like that. It’s okay to blame other people for what you haven’t done.

Just go with that normal human tendency to shy away from uncomfortable and difficult endeavors.

7. Keep getting beat in the first 5 minutes.

The first 5 minutes are the toughest.
The first 5 minutes stink.
The first 5 minutes make you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing.
The first 5 minutes are a buzz of self-doubt and negativity and doubt and fear.
The first 5 minutes you know – you just KNOW – you’re a phony and you’ll be found out.
The first 5 minutes win it or lose it.

If you stick it out through the first 5 minutes, then you own the next, oh, 23 or 45 or 60 or 90. However long your work cycle may be (which you don’t know, though, because you don’t have a repeatable, measurable system).

Chances are, once you own that set of minutes, the rest of the day submits calmly to your commands.

So – whatever you do – don’t try to beat that first 5.

Let it beat you. Let it keep you down. Never push yourself hard enough to own it. Never force yourself to focus until you get into the flow. Nah. You don’t need that.

The rut’s good. It’s comfy. Cozy. Nice. Familiar. Just stay there.

Settle in.

It’s good enough.