How To Become A Fierce Creative
6 game-changing tips to become prolific at what you do.
1. Find something to get obsessed about
‘The most important thing is to find a certain aspect that you can really obsess about and lose time in.’ — Ian Spalter • 99u
Obsession is a more extreme version of ambition. Without obsession, the well runs dry. You lose interest. You settle for mediocre. Obsession can give you the fuel to persevere through the times you’re feeling unmotivated or tired, and excel when you’re not. You know you’re obsessed about something when it keeps you up at night and you’re think about it at least 298 times a day. If you can’t obsess over what you’re currently working on, maybe it’s not for you.
Find something you can get obsessed about and you’ll naturally want to improve and become the best at it. It’s that simple. But don’t be a slave to your ambition—have some self-compassion. Understand that obsessions progress and evolve, and most will only pay off over a long period of time.
2. Wake up with a positive attitude
‘If you’re not waking up every morning with a sense of excitement, you need to do something about it.’ — Darius Foroux • Personal Growth
As soon as you wake up, your mental state can have a huge impact on your creative energy and focus throughout the rest of the day. Waking up with a purpose and a drive is the key to finding momentum, and this is helped a little by being excited—and obsessed—about what you do. Unfortunately, this is what most of us struggle with.
But if you find a meaningful purpose, and force yourself to focus on that rather than the minor stresses and discomforts of the world, it can manifest a more positive attitude. Purpose can give you the incentive and energy to carry out creative tasks—find your purpose and you’ll wake up positive.
3. Prioritize your priorities
‘There’s a single thing that’s most important in the things you do. You can do more than one thing. But those other things aren’t as important as your priority.’ — Nathan Kontny • Signal v. Noise
‘Deciding how important a decision is, is the most important decision you can make.’ — Brandon Chu • The Black Box of Product Management
In this day and age we can allow an unbelievable amount of priorities to stack up, so knowing which to tackle first, or at all, is a challenge. Above all, the secret to effective prioritization is understanding the difference between urgent and important. This is the probably the most important productivity hack you’ll ever learn: Do the important first, not the urgent.
Maybe that important task has nothing to do with your career, but focusing on God, family or health. When it comes to prioritization within the realm of your projects, you have to determine the importance of tasks by how much value they will bring to your lifelong goals.
4. Assume confidence in your ability
‘The most important thing is to be confident in your worth and not undersell yourself or underestimate your value.’ — Jing Wei • The Great Discontent
Confidence is a powerful trait for creatives. It can enable you to take risks, overcome inertia, and can also help you to share and talk about your work with conviction. But having confidence doesn’t mean you’re an extrovert. There are plenty of introverts in the world; quietly plugging away and confident in their ability and success. And that’s the key. Be confident in your own ability and assume that your work is valuable regardless of opinion or lack of response.
While it’s difficult to retain confidence sometimes—we’re only on the wave for a brief period of time—a fierce creative should instinctively know when to take advantage, and use the momentum of the wave. I’m also a firm believer than if you assume, even pretend to be confident, then you will be confident. The more you practice, the more easily you can be in that state.
5. Master your self-control
‘Above all, you have to curb your bad habits. The greatest skill you can develop to achieve success is self-control.’ — Julie Zhuo • The Year Of The Looking Glass
We are all victims of our own bad habits. They not only prevent us from achieving our best work, but also hinder us from being successful. They can prevent us from having humility and humanity. Regardless of your industry or discipline, it pays to develop self-control. As some might say, if you master self-control, you can master absolutely everything.
Self-control is about being focused on the bigger picture, instead of the moment—even if that’s just internally. It’s about planning, and evaluating alternative actions instead of jumping into the things you’ll regret later. Avoid responding to the immediate impulses.
6. Create. Share. Repeat.
‘The only thing that really matters is that you have a determination to make stuff, even if it’s just on the weekend or evenings.’ — Michael Cox • It’s Nice That
‘Perfectionism can prevent you from finishing your most important and meaningful work.’ — Thomas Oppong • The Mission
Don’t overthink. Just do. Commit to a daily routine and devise a habit of creating and sharing on a regular basis. Continually repeat that process. Allow for downtime and family time, and use the weekends and evenings if you have to. It doesn’t have to be your best work, because tomorrow is an opportunity to improve or try something else.
What you’ll get out of a consistent commitment of doing—at the minimum—will be character development and learning something new. Perfectionism and fear are the two most common pitfalls of the creative. Thankfully, routine and good habits will always overcome them.