10 ways to stay positive as a creative professional

10 ways to stay positive as a creative professional

Britt Dreisbach's Layout avatar

Let’s face it—working in the creative industry is challenging. Whether you run a freelance business or work for an agency, there are a lot of non-creative things to keep track of (budgets, processes, client relationships) while also trying to stay newly inspired and constantly creative. And when you’re juggling so many different types of tasks while also trying to keep a nagging client happy, cross off your to-do list, and pay the bills this month, it can be difficult to keep a good attitude.

You do what you do because you love it! But just like everyone else, the stress can be overwhelming at times. Even the best optimists have trouble being positive all the time (and that’s okay!). In order to help you combat the negatives and focus on the positives as a creative professional, I’ve compiled some tips that just might do the trick!

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1. Be thankful

Thankfulness goes a long way. Being appreciative of what you have, especially your own gifts and talents, is important. Taking a step back to appreciate everything will help your outlook on your work. Whether it be thanking clients more often or compiling a list of everything you were thankful for today, your outlook on life is likely to be just a little bit brighter!

2. Do a mental positivity audit

This is an activity that can be done either throughout the day or at the end of the day (or both, really). It’s simple: Try to be cognizant of your attitude and thoughts. At the end of the day, reflect on what you could have reacted to more positively or where you could have shifted your focus.

Another way to go about this is to actively monitor yourself throughout the day. Whenever you catch yourself with a bad attitude about something, refocus and counteract it with positives. Take proactive measures to do more than just recognize “I shouldn’t do that,” and give yourself three positives for every negative.

3. Revisit the love from your clients

When self-reinforcement isn’t enough, you might need to hear “You’re brilliant!” from somebody else. Who better than the people you please every day? One of my favorite things to do when I’m feeling really worn down is review positive feedback from others. It can come from anyone, whether it be your boss, your clients, your mom…whoever. It’s a simple way to build confidence and stay inspired!

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff

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It’s easy to let the negatives pile up one after one. If you hold on to all the little, insignificant things, odds are it will break you down quickly. Whenever life gets overwhelming, ask yourself: what truly matters here? There are a million cliches that probably come to mind:

“Nothing gets done by worrying.”

“Focus on what matters.”

“Everyone makes mistakes.”

The irony of cliches, however, is they’re usually all true. So don’t worry about small stuff and go back to the big picture!

5. Invest in yourself and your business

Yes, we all need to pay the bills and turn a profit, but there’s nothing wrong with spending a little more in order to keep yourself and your business happy and thriving. And you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to do so!

If you’re looking to invest in yourself, try setting aside some me-time for a massage or just a trip to a coffee shop with a good book. If you’re looking to invest in your business without breaking the bank, you can go the basic route and get some donuts for a quick morale boost! For something perhaps a little more creative, try scheduling a meeting like “Beers and tweets” to get the team together to work through social media content.

6. Compliment yourself!

“This work is awesome, and I love it!” “I’ve been so productive lately!” “That pitch was one of my best yet!” A change in mindset really goes a long way.

Whenever you catch yourself thinking negatively about your day or your work change your thought process to think about how you could improve, what you’ve learned, or just something that went well that day. Even if it’s a little thing like, “I love my shoes today!” these words of affirmation can pick your mood right up and give you the energy to keep tackling the day.

7. Don’t schedule your creativity

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It’s hard to force yourself to be creative. “Try to avoid scheduling time for your creative work versus your management or office work. ” It only makes it harder to truly be creative, and then if ideas aren’t easily coming your way, you’ll more at risk to start feeling frustrated.

Instead, block out time for the tedious stuff like billing and emails, and try to recognize when you’re feeling inspired to create. If you learn to recognize when you’re having a really creative day, your work will feel much more inspiring and the outcome will be that much better. Basically, go with the creative flow, and you’ll have more productive, positive days!

8. Do some creative exercises that challenge you

If the reason for your negativity is due to lack of inspiration, then good news—there are countless ways to stay inspired and keep your mind fresh as a creative. A few of the most common tricks include:

  • Going outside—a little fresh air can do wonders!
  • Mentally walking away from whatever you’re working on.
  • Browsing Pinterest (or another website that inspires you).
  • Taking a power nap.
layout by flywheel stay positive creative woman at water's edge

Looking for more ways to stay inspired? Try these articles:

9. Reach out to your network

The best part about this creative community that we live in is that there’s always someone else experiencing the same thing, and always someone who’s willing to listen or talk through the frustrations you’re experiencing.

If you already have a group of creative professionals, reach out to them—they likely know what you’re going through, and might even have some advice to help you overcome your struggle. If you’re still searching for your group, don’t stress—you can even start with a Slack Channel or Facebook group to quickly find others online that know what you’re going through.

10. Simplify your workflow with the right tools

One of the most frustrating parts of any creative job is when the tools you turn to on a daily basis just don’t work. Over the course of a week, be conscious of the apps, services, and tools you use to get your job done—are they all performing flawlessly? For example, if you know that an app you need is likely to crash every other time you open it, that’s not healthy for your work environment or creativity.

It’s not always fun to go on the search for new tools to use, but trust me—it’s worth it if it solves a problem and keeps your workflow smooth and positive.

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