The Necessity of Creative Constraints

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to take on a project where the sky’s the limit? No budget, no timeline, no logistical factors to worry about. You could do anything! And while it’s fun to dream big, the reality is that taking away all of those constraints might not help your creativity as much as you think. 

Constraints and limits don’t hurt our creativity—they actually help it. 

With no limits, it’s too tempting to take the easiest way out or to imitate something that’s been done before. But when we work within boundaries, we’re forced to get creative and think outside the box. We’re challenged to stretch our imaginations, to come up with workarounds, and find new ways of thinking. 

Sometimes, constraints are what we need to get the project done in the first place. Most of us have had the experience of pushing something off until right before the deadline, feeling like we have all the time in the world to get to it. But then when time is almost up, we get to work—and are incredibly productive and creative in just a small amount of time, getting more done in the last few hours than we did in all the days (or weeks) leading up to the deadline. The freedom of having all the time in the world means we feel no urgency–the time limit pushes us to actually do the work.

Limits force us to think of new ideas. If you’ve ever participated in a low ropes course as part of a team-building exercise, you can probably think back and remember the facilitator telling you the limits. For example, your group might be on one side of a spiderweb-shaped rope. Your goal: to get everyone through the spiderweb. Easy enough—everyone can just crawl through, right? But then you hear the rest of the instructions: if anyone touches the ropes, you have to start over. And—each opening in the spiderweb can only be used once. Once your group has learned the constraints, the creative ideas start flowing. 

How many companies said they couldn’t make remote work a reality for their workforce—until a pandemic hit, and coming into the office as usual wasn’t an option anymore? 

Innovation happens within the framework of constraints. 

If you are feeling stuck on a project, consider adding some limitations to jump-start your creativity. Set a timer for ten minutes and write down as many ideas as you can in that time period. Find three random objects around your house and challenge yourself to incorporate them into your project. Think of a rule that would make things more difficult, and spend twenty minutes thinking of ways to get around it. You might not solve all your problems by adding limitations, but you will unlock your creativity—which might be exactly what you need!

Don’t Waste Time Looking For Your Passion–Do This Instead

Do you ever feel lost because you haven’t found your “thing” yet? You see people out there, determined to chase their passion, and you’d love to do the same: but you just can’t figure out exactly what your passion is. Everyone says “you’ll just know” when you find it, but you are interested in so many things. If you can’t imagine narrowing it down to just one passion, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you.

In fact, I think it’s time for you to abandon the search for your passion.

That’s right. There’s no need to obsess over finding the one perfect interest or hobby to pursue. There is no such thing as a single perfect path. So stop feeling stressed that you haven’t found one yet!

Instead, let your curiosity lead you. Dabble in this and that. Take an art class, try a new exercise class, check out a “how to” library book. With each venture into a new activity, you learn something about yourself: what you like, what you don’t. You get the benefit of a new experience. You might not have deep knowledge in one subject, but your knowledge will be wide, spanning lots of subjects, and that is valuable too. 

Everything is connected. It might take years to see how it all fits together, but one day you’ll realize that all the little bits and pieces of things you’ve tried over the years have brought you somewhere that investing in only one passion wouldn’t have.

Some people find their thing and run with it. They become devoted experts and evangelists — and we need them. They put in the hard work to become experts in their field, and that’s something to celebrate. 

But we need you, too. The person who has dabbled in this and that, and chased all kinds of ideas and interests. The person who can find connections and patterns between subjects that might seem unrelated at first glance, who can bring in new ideas and keep things fresh.

One day you’ll look up from the small business you created or the novel you are writing and you’ll realize that all those bits and pieces are exactly what got you to where you are.

Forget finding your passion; follow your curiosity instead.

4 Truths About Those Ideas You Don’t Act On

Do you have half-full notebooks or Google docs full of ideas gathering dust? Don’t be discouraged: not every idea is meant to be acted on. Brainstorming is valuable, whether or not you end up acting on all of the ideas, because creativity begets creativity. The more ideas you come up with, the better chance you’ll land on one (or more) that will work for you! 

It can be hard to determine which ideas to act on and which to leave for someone else. Here are a few reasons it’s okay to leave an idea alone.

Three reasons you shouldn’t act on an idea:

ONE // The idea requires more than you have to give right now. Knowing your capacity will help prevent you from getting overwhelmed. If you love an idea, but the thought of all the work it will take to make it happen fills you with a sense of dread instead of a feeling of anticipation—pay attention. This might be a sign that you are close to the limits of the capacity you have to give right now.

TWO // You’ve had an even better idea! It might be a brilliant idea: that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the idea for you. If you’ve thought of something incredible, but you know that it doesn’t fit your skill set, it’s okay to let that idea go—or to pass it on to someone else who does have the needed skill set.

THREE // Some ideas need a long time to germinate. A seed of an idea planted now may need time to grow before it’s time for you to act on it. If an idea isn’t right for this moment, that doesn’t mean it won’t come back to you later, at a better time. Allow space to see what takes root and what blows away on the wind.


And, one reason you should act on an idea:

Don’t let fear hold you back. Sometimes we have THE idea and we know it—but we are too paralyzed by fear to move forward. Ask yourself what’s holding you back. Be brutally honest: journal or mind-map the details of your idea and write down all your fears. Then talk yourself through them—and run with your big idea! 


Before you toss your ideas aside, ask yourself these four questions:

  • Do I have the capacity?
  • Is this my skill set?
  • Does this idea need time to grow?
  • Is fear holding me back? 

Your answers will help you determine which ideas to let go of and which to move forward with.

And when you are feeling stuck and looking for a new idea? Flip back through those notebooks and scroll through those Google docs—maybe you’ll stumble back across an idea that wasn’t right then, but is perfect right now.

5 Creative Ways to Monetize Your Passion

Side hustles. The gig economy. It seems like everyone is talking about ways to make money doing what you love these days. If you’ve been wanting to try and see if you, too, can make money off your passions, read on for 5 creative ideas!

Make a product: If you love to make things, consider selling them. Bake cupcakes, hand-pour candles, make small batch soap, or start painting–there are thousands of options! Think of ways you can put a little twist on your product to make it stand out from others: maybe each bar of soap has a prize inside or instead of painting on canvas you are painting tote bags or the covers of journals. Once you’ve determined your product and your creative twist,  start an Etsy shop or look around your town for somewhere where you can rent a booth or participate in pop-up markets.

Share your expertise: What are you an expert in? Do you keep up with all the latest social media trends? Are you a stickler for grammar? Or is organizing closets and garages your idea of a perfect Saturday? These are all things people will pay you to do for them! You can use sites like Upwork or Fiverr to find virtual jobs, or local Facebook groups or NextDoor to find in-person opportunities.

Create content: It isn’t the fastest way to make money, but it can be lucrative for those who are able to find and connect with an audience. Consider starting a blog, podcast, or a YouTube channel to try out earning with advertising revenue. Or, if you have content you think people will pay directly for, perhaps setting up a Patreon account or creating a course to sell is the way to go. 

Print on Demand: If you love graphic design or art, but don’t want to deal with the hassle of an inventory-based business, consider uploading your designs to print-on-demand sites like Society 6 or Spoonflower. Your cut may be smaller than if you were handling the whole process, but once you get your art uploaded, it can be a relatively passive income stream.

Flip Items: If you can spend hours hunting for treasures at estate sales, yard sales, and thrift stores, consider flipping items. If you have a good eye for finding diamonds in the rough, you might be able to make some money turning one person’s trash into someone else’s treasure. Utilize Facebook’s Buy-Sell-Trade groups or Marketplace, apps like Poshmark, or if finding vintage knickknacks is your specialty, consider renting space in your local antique store. 


Don’t be discouraged if you don’t start making money right away; it can take time to build up a business. But with a little hard work and imagination, you can move some of your favorite activities from hobby to money-making venture. 

Do you have an experience monetizing your passions? If you have creative money-making tips or ideas of your own, drop them in the comments!

How to Deal With Conflicting Advice Online

 

Have you ever gone searching for advice on the internet? You find a great article or blog post, read it enthusiastically, taking note of all you need to do. Then… you click to another post you’d bookmarked. When you start reading, you realize that the advice is exactly the opposite of what you just read. 

What to do?

First—do a gut check. Does one set of advice resonate with you more strongly? If you have an “off” feeling about what you are being told to do, there’s a reason… trust your instinct. There is lots of great information online… but there are also a lot of people out there trying to scam you, seeing if they can make a “get rich quick” scheme work for them, or just spreading misinformation. Pay attention to whose advice you are trusting and how it makes you feel. 

Second—remember that you are a unique individual. The exact way someone else does things probably isn’t going to be the exact best way for you to work. It’s okay to mix and match advice. Following someone else’s path isn’t the key to your success. Discern which advice is going to work for you and your lifestyle. If you are waking up with young kids throughout the night, an early morning power work session might not work for you—no matter how easy that blogger or influencer makes it look. 

Finally—trial and error is okay! It’s a great way to learn. If you see something you get really excited about, and try it out only to realize it’s not for you… no problem. Consider it a learning experience and move on to the next thing. 

Assess. 

Mix and match. 

Try and see. Before long you’ll be ready to give your own advice on the internet—just remember that it won’t be the right advice for everyone!

Top 5 Books for Multi-Passionate Creatives

 

Do you have stacks of books waiting to be read piled around your home? Do your stacks range wildly in subject because there are so many different things you are interested in and want to learn about? Books are a great way to expand your horizons but it’s not uncommon for multi-passionate creatives to get overwhelmed by their many interests, ideas, and passions. 

If you are an overwhelmed creative, consider moving these five books to the top of your TBR pile. Written by authors who understand multi-passionate personalities, these books will give you better insight into your personality type, as well as advice and inspiration from authors who are a little further along in their journey.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you choose to click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.

THE RENAISSANCE SOUL by Margaret Lobenstine

Subtitled “Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One” this book defines a Renaissance Soul as someone who is constantly seeking new challenges and has expressed interest in a wide variety of areas. In other words: a multi-passionate creative! Packed full of tips, you’ll get fresh advice for those who don’t do well with standard time-management advice and career ideas to help you discover your own unique path. Plus, there are exercises to help you learn to narrow your focus and give higher quality attention to your current top interests. This book lives up to its promise to help you design a life you love!

REFUSE TO CHOOSE by Barbara Sher

Barbara Sher coined the term “Scanners”–a personality type of people who want to do it all and have trouble focusing on just one thing at a time. In this book, she walks through the nine different types of scanners, devoting a chapter to each type. The book also includes career ideas for each scanner type and practical tips and tools to help you explore your interests. If you need validation that it’s okay to have multiple interests and feel like you could use an instruction manual to live your life the way you want, this thought-provoking book should be your next read!

HOW TO BE EVERYTHING by Emilie Wapnick

Subtitled “A guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up,” this is the book for those who have never been able to answer the question of what, exactly, they want to do with their life. Based on the author’s TED talk, the book is full of advice and activities to help you build a framework that allows you to design your life and career around all your skills and interests. Tackling everything from dealing with insecurity to establishing a career, this book is sure to give you a boost of confidence as you pursue your unique path.

EVERYTHING IS FIGUREOUTABLE by Marie Forleo

If you are in need of a pep talk to tell you that you can figure out how to live the life you want, start reading this book immediately! Both engaging and entertaining, this book will help you shift your mindset to one of confidence. If you feel stuck, the author shares strategies to help you “retrain your brain” and get moving again. Writing prompts throughout the book will help you as you figure things out so you can start achieving your goals.

A LIFE AT WORK by Thomas Moore

This book serves as a guide to discovering your purpose and understanding how all of the work you do throughout your life shapes your journey. If you are feeling a disconnect between your job and your calling, this book will help you discover how to close that gap. If you are considering making big changes in your life, read this book first to gain perspective and find tools for uncovering what really matters to you.


Fellow multi-passionates, I’d love to know: have you read any of these? Are there any other books that should be on this list?