How the scarcity mindset hurts your creativity

Because of my foot injury, I haven’t been able to spend as long at the work desk as I normally do (gotta keep it iced & elevated, baybee!). Hence, vintage post today (and probably a few more times before the end of the month!); this was originally published in March at FeelGooder. Enjoy! 

Here’s the thing about creativity: it’s all in your head. Even if you say there’s something outside of you that gives you ideas, they still end up in your head. And the thing about something in your head is this: your worldview, thoughts, and opinions will greatly affect it, and how it’s brought into the world.

Nowhere does this show as clearly as in the way we treat our ideas. People apply the scarcity mindset to their ideas and end up hoarding them. “No!,” they cry. “That’s my idea, you can’t have it.” Or, often heard from bloggers: “I think I should use my best ideas for my site instead of guest posts.”

Ideas are intangible things, completely without form and thus without limit. And, of course, they are abundant. They’re everywhere—how many ideas do you have in a random week? Okay, they’re not necessarily good ideas, but they’re ideas nonetheless.

Now think about how you treat your ideas when you’re influenced by the scarcity mindset. You hoard them or save an idea for later, when you can do justice to it. You don’t tell anyone about your latest idea, whether for fear of them ridiculing you, or fear of them stealing it. You wind up believing, consciously or not, that there exists only a finite number of ideas—more importantly, there’s only a finite number of good ideas—and so you treat them as if there will never be enough to go around. Big mistake.

When you treat your ideas this way, you set up creative blocks. Instead of treasuring the ideas you do have, you’re worrying about where the next one will come from. Instead of using them (and of course, ideas love to be put into action), you’re letting them get dusty on a shelf somewhere. Eventually, the part of you that creates ideas, that pulls them out of the ether—whether you believe that’s your subconscious, a higher self, or a daemon—will start to think you obviously don’t value them if you treat them so, and then the ideas dry up. They cease to come to you, and when they do come, it’s only with much effort.

Here’s a novel idea: instead of hoarding your ideas, use them relentlessly. They don’t have to be used in public, if you’re shy about them or not sure they’re that good—but use them somehow. Test them out, play with them, put them into action.

This sends a message to yourself that yes, these ideas will get used, yes, you do value them, yes, send more, please and thank you! Even if you’re only writing the ideas down and keeping track of them in a swipe file—and that’s all you do with that idea for now—that sends a little signal that you’re willing to act on the idea.

The less ideas you work on, the less ideas you have. So get crackin’!

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