39-Before-You-Create-Incubate

If you have a fertile mind, ideas spring up around you constantly—while you’re driving, in the shower, during walks in nature, in your dreams or while someone is talking (the latter of which is rude, so don’t let on).

If you are a person who thinks too much, and you’re inclined to self reflection and the quest for inner peace, this tsunami of creative thought can be overwhelming, often frustrating and sometimes painful. This is particularly true for someone who’s dependent upon business growth in order to do things like support a family, pay the bills, eat and not have to worry about the possibility of living in a box under a bridge.

Overthinkers tend to catastrophize, which is to make things worse than they actually are. Creative types are particularly susceptible to overthinking, because we live in a colorful world of imagination. It’s why we are good writers, painters, entrepreneurs, inventors, dancers, architects, photographers and storytellers.

But there is a dark side to creative hyper-ideation. It’s the part of us that is in a perpetual state of anxiety, a quiet, persistent hum just below the center of our chest. It disturbs our sleep, makes us feel something is amiss. It almost ruined my vacation.

Every year, my family gathers for a week on beautiful Sanibel island, on the Gulf side of Florida, across a bridge from Fort Myers. I love it there. I want to live there, see myself living there, where it’s warm, and the water is blue, the beach is white, and dolphins frolic just yards from where you’re standing waist deep in the gentle waves. And the shells! A bounty of beautiful shells is washed ashore every day, endless treasures for the taking.

I needed this vacation so badly. I’ve been working my heinie off, day after day, seven days a week, building my brand, pumping out content, creating new products, starting a podcast, searching for clients, networking, asking for help, reading hundreds of books, watching webinars, getting older by the day, and thinking, thinking, thinking, “What else can I do to grow my business? What am I missing? How can I possibly keep this going?”

I had lots and lots of ideas. Too many ideas, perhaps, because there are only so many hours in a day and too few hands on deck. But what I needed to know was, “What should be the best focal point(s) of my activities that would best help me get to where I needed to be in my business?” Oh, man. I’ve gotten so much conflicting advice. I always forget that the answer lies within.

One day, on Periwinkle Boulevard, during my routine three-mile walk around the island, listing to one of my favorite podcasts on my iPhone, I was stopped in my tracks. I was on a small bridge that traversed one of the many canals criss-crossing the island. I leaned on the railing, and watched the water undulate and flow among the wooden, residential docks. A mild breeze tickled the leaves above my head. And the answer I had been seeking landed upon my head like a soft, cool blanket. Yes, I thought. that’s so obvious. And I smiled. I simply knew what I had to do next and where to focus my efforts. I knew I was on the right track.

I also knew that this realization was something I had been asking for for weeks, in my journal, in my worries, in my seeking of knowledge from others. I had asked a big question, to no one in particular, and after a period of time, which I call the “incubation” period, the answer simply presented itself. As always, the answer came from within.

I wanted to share this with you because I know that you, too, suffer through long bouts of doubt and uncertainty. It may be when you’re stuck for just the right lyric, or you can’t find the right lighting or hue to complete your artistic vision, or you don’t know who or what will help you over the next hurdle of your business, like where your next customer will come from. I had been tearing myself apart trying to find my answer, and now I realize that my subconscious had been working on it all along, in the background, and all I had needed to do was be quiet, have faith, and wait.

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