Ever wonder how some people seem to know exactly what to do next? There’s a simple trick that will help you figure out your next small step.
At any given time you probably have a whole lot of big problems to deal with. That’s life after all.
You might be wrestling with an extra bunch of big questions given the state of the world right now. It means all of our usual struggles are magnified and it can feel overwhelming.
Feeling overwhelmed can cause us to freeze. And, that helps no one. Plus, when these big social questions are floating around out there we tend to neglect our own needs and things like creativity fall to the wayside.
Have you been there before? That place where there’s so much going on, so much to think about, you become paralyzed. If you stay here long enough, it can feel impossible to move forward again, let alone figure out your next small step.
That’s where the magic of playing small comes in.
The trick is to ask yourself questions.
Instead of thinking you have to solve the world’s problems, ask yourself, “What’s one small thing I could do to make a change or move this forward?”
For example, instead of the overwhelming question, “How do we fix millennia of inequality?” ask, “What is one small thing I could do to educate myself about this issue?”
When you get stuck in a creative rut, playing small is the answer again. Don’t try to figure out how you’re going to write that novel that’s been floating around in your head for years. Instead, figure out your next small step. It might be drafting an outline or committing to writing one paragraph.
Ask yourself a question like, “What’s one small creative act I can do for 5 minutes a day?” Or, “What would it feel like to be more creative?”
The Brain Loves Questions
The brain loves questions and loves to figure out an answer to them. It will turn questions around without any effort from your conscious self – you’ll know the answer when it comes to you.
Just ask yourself a small question about creativity and see what comes up. Your brain will love it. Something helpful might rise to the surface for you immediately. But, don’t get discouraged if you don’t have an answer right away.
It also might be hours or days before the answer to your question materializes.
But it will. I promise.
Remember this, though…
Keep your questions positive!
Avoid questions like “How can I stop being so lazy and do something?” Your brain will fixate on the negative part of the questions, like the word “lazy”. This will reinforce a negative belief about yourself.
Try turning that into, “What’s one small step I can take right now to move me forward.” You want to give your brain a positive question and reinforce those positive vibes!
Remember, these questions can be tiny. You want something doable and easy. The intent is not to put pressure on yourself or add another task to the to-do list.
Practice being kind to yourself and ask yourself a small question this week. What small thing could you do to move your creativity forward? Is it pulling out some supplies, reading over a story you started, or picking up the phone and having a conversation with someone? Ask the question you need to figure out your next small step.
For more on developing good creative habits read: