Loosen Up: The Benefits of Caring Less

Creativity needs to be strengthened and exercised to be maintained or even established, but the common mistake is forcibly trying to be creative. Overly concentrating on creating a solution or developing a creative thought stunts your creative ability, while being able to let go enables more freedom and promotes innovation.

In the early stages of the design process, i.e. brainstorming, word maps, thumbnails, sketches, etc., it’s easy to stump yourself when you’re in search for the right answer, but actively seeking out answers will only yield expected and mediocre results. In this situation you’re caring too much, and by doing so you’re skimming the surface of ideas because you’re too invested. Have you ever had a great idea while you were driving, about to go to sleep, or doing anything other than working? This occurs a lot for most people, and the reason is that their ideas were given time to incubate. In those moments they didn’t care—as in they weren’t actively searching for an answer. By no means should you simply wait for your idea to come to you, instead take on mindful aspects of that epiphany moment when you’re working. Learn to step away from your project every so often so you can allow your mind to ease up.

Although easing up isn’t always the problem, but rather the beginning seems to be the most daunting and challenging. As always, we tend to have a fear of being wrong when starting a project, which is the result of caring too much. This approach, although being safe, limits creative possibilities. It’s easy to become so swept up in creating results that it causes us to steer our process towards an initial idea of a product rather than allowing the process to craft a product with positive results. It has become typical of us to create an artificial process solely to justify our decisions. As if being right is all that matters or even worse, as if being wrong meant we were wrong. Allowing yourself to become obsessed with creating fixed results to avoid being wrong will stunt your growth, and even a lack of being wrong and failing during your process is in fact hurting your finished product and limiting your creative potential.

You are curating your thoughts and ideas without recognizing that you actually are. This curation happens during the sketching process when we choose to only sketch out worthwhile ideas. I encourage people to keep a list of ideas on their phone because it’s much easier to jot down an idea in a phone without much hesitation. If you don’t hesitate then you are less likely to hold back so you are then able to document that idea entirely. If you were to write down each individual idea it’d take much more effort and present the opportunity for you to second guess yourself. We’ve become much more comfortable with typing on our phones in such a way that we have loosened up and have seemingly began to care less. Typos are a common occurrence when we are talking to someone, but rarely do we let a typo prevent us from communicating our full message. When we text we don’t second guess ourselves because there is no fear of being wrong, we’re simply sending a text that, if needed, could be corrected. The trouble is, how does this translate over to the creative process? We are able to type without hesitation, but when we hold a pencil in our hand we become very cautious of our decisions.

The only way that we can take our approach to typing and apply it to sketching is by taking on a whole new mindset of not caring. I’m not suggesting that you stop caring about your project, instead I’m encouraging you to loosen up and explore ideas you otherwise wouldn’t. Trust the process for what it is—a process. It is a means of experimentation which effectively means it’s an iteration of failure. We tend to always concern ourselves with finding the correct answer, but have you ever attempted to find all of the wrong answers to then determine what answers are correct? This approach is very strange; however, it works to help you develop better ideas because until you push yourself to the edge you will be left to settle for mediocre ideas without knowing what distinguishes them from great ideas. But truthfully you aren’t searching for right or wrong answers. Not even good or bad ideas. The goal is to simply generate lots and lots of ideas by refusing to hold back. Our problem is that we always think we have a good idea, but my challenge for you is to stop caring about finding a good idea, and instead find every idea.