Lower your expectations
Self-efficacy is a person's belief in his/her own competence, i.e., as the belief that one is capable of performing in a certain manner to attain a certain set of goals. It is believed that our personalized ideas of self-efficacy affect our social interactions in almost every way. Understanding how to foster the development of self-efficacy is a vitally important goal for positive psychology because it can lead to living a more productive and happy life.
It amazes me how much our moods can change and how they are so easily swayed by our current perspective.
I was in such a foul mood a couple weeks ago on some random Saturday evening. No idea why. A good night's sleep later, and I was back to my merry self about everything.
This occurs frequently in my creative work. One day or moment and I feel that everything I see or touch seems like an opportunity. An opportunity to write a brilliant blog post or create an insanely popular and useful business.
Some arbitrary amount of time later and I can't believe how uncreative I feel.
How everything interesting has already been created, spoken or written.
Why even bother putting my words on a page?
I keep a collection of blog post “ideas”. Little fragments of sentences/titles/ideas that at one time seemed like a brilliant spark for a new blog post. I have at least 35 of them currently that I could flesh out and put in front of you today. But so often, I can sit at the screen and feel like I can't put a single interesting word or thought into those stories. I feel paralyzed. There's too many decisions to make about which direction to go with a blog post or feature.
Here's something that I find that helps me change the uncreative perspective into something that starts flowing.
I sit and try to just create a little piece of garbage.
Something no one could possibly care about. Something that is unlikely anything someone else will see. Something without any expectations. It's just junk.
And what happens?
Things just flow. Words come out. Something that was blocking the creativity isn't there anymore. I don't need to depend on the muse of creativity showing up because this thing I'm writing or coding or making is just junk anyways.
And I know I always have the competence, the self-efficacy, to at least create the worst blog post or software application ever. If I start there, my perspective changes dramatically once that first draft is done.
Editing from a point of having a first draft accomplished is an entirely different animal.
Our ridiculously terrible first draft of a software application got us a start at Y Combinator with Inkling in 2006. We had the algorithms wrong. We had the potential customers wrong. The tool itself easily fell apart with two people using it at the same time. But the first draft of an idea was out there, and it was something to finally talk to people about and get them using.
We redesigned the application and the business dozens of times.
You'd think with the endless number of books written on lean startups and “minimum viable products” this advice would be obvious. But a majority of entrepreneurs or folks I talk to just trying to do something creatively surprise me in their pursuit to iterate, debate and edit ambiguous ideas in their head.
They never get around to actually completing a manifestation of their creativity.
Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it…
Emma Coats (storyboard artist at Pixar)
Emma is full of great advice for creative people. She inspired my previous blog post as well. Check out her 22 guidelines.
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