Have you ever been stuck on a project and convinced that you’re NOT making excuses? You really feel like you need to do another week of research or think about your plan a little more? I see this happen when a client has an “a-ha” moment, but can’t get around to taking action. Or another client won’t let go of their pet project and gets stuck instead in an obsessive state of revisions and re-revisions. According to Eric Maisel — a creativity coach based in the Bay Area — anxiety is most likely the culprit.
Anxiety is sneaky because it’s hard to detect. It’s a quiet, powerful emotion that can stop your forward progress dead in its tracks. And it’s such a relevant topic that I could easily write 4 articles on it. But, since I like to keep things simple (and less anxiety provoking!), I will divvy it into a 2-part series. In Part 1 below, I focus on becoming aware of your anxiety triggers (using Eric Maisel’s stages of anxiety). And in Part 2, I’ll close with some tips.
Maisel mostly works with artists, but I find that his stages of creativity apply to entrepreneurs as well. In his insightful book, Fearless Creating, Maisel outlines six stages to a project, which EACH provoke a different type of anxiety:
1. Wishing – the dream state where you imagine your business, your dream career and lifestyle. It’s a wonderful place to be, but many get stuck here, because let’s face it, it’s fun and safe.
2. Choosing – this is where you have to pick one. Will it be the online clothing store, the greeting card company or the fashion blog? I’m not saying you can’t do it all, but you have to start somewhere. And picking the ONE can be a little scary.
3. Starting – Facing the blank page, the mailing list with 10 people on it (trust me I’ve been there). This is where you fight the feeling (almost always false) that you just don’t know ANYTHING.
4. Working – Staying focused and committed to your project. Not losing steam, or surfing the web when you should be working (hint, Maisel says that all those distractions are just anxiety getting the best of you).
5. Completing – This is kind of like a spin on choosing because you have to tie up the loose ends and “live” with your baby. Your logo could have over 20 different color combos, and your ezine could follow 100+ formats — but you just have to get it done and know your end product. This can be scary.
6. Showing – This is the cliff — the moment you’re about to take a leap and go public. Maybe it means clicking the “publish” button on your blog, or sending off the sales email to a cold potential client. But this is where you expose yourself and your business, and it can cause a TON of anxiety.
Does any of the above sound familiar to you? Remember, you could feel anxiety at only one phase, or at several phases of the process. Right now, just be aware of where you get stuck.
Then, once you recognize where you get stuck in your own, individual process, you have the key to moving your projects through from start to finish. Stay tuned for Part 2, where I’ll give you some tips on how to push past these stages.© Copyright 2010 Ali Brown