Getting Back on Track 


So, you had a great vision for the day. A vision to be super creative, innovative and successful. But then your day went to crap.

Problems with employees, challenges at home, unpaid bills - all these things can throw your day for a loop and knock you off track. You end up leaning back in your chair and thinking, “Well, this day is absolutely wasted. Maybe I should just start again tomorrow and throw today in the trash.”

Is it fair to leave today behind? Getting distracted is all too common for highly creative and successful people. Our lives are made up of what we call our many “Different selves.” In other words, you are a parent, a child, a friend, an employee, a team leader, or a host of other roles you play in life. Too often these many “Different selves” get in the way of our creative spirit. Stresses, turmoil, and chaos seem to derail our focus and leave us frustrated, exhausted, and negative.

Significant events in mankind’s evolution of thought have occurred following chaos, turmoil, and stress.  Just as many creative insights are a result of negative influences on our lives as are insights from a walk in the park or in a meditation session. Learning to channel our thoughts appropriately following negative events can be just as impactful on creativity, innovation, and success. Chaos in our life forces us to choose between a flight or fight decision. Many people choose to run from the problems in a natural survival mentality that we call the “Flight” instinct. But you don’t want to run from chaos, turmoil, or stress. You are the person who chooses to fight. You choose to stand your ground and never give up.

Here are three things you can do to get back on track when life seems to punch you in the mouth.

1. Walk away

When facing circumstances that require a creative approach to a resolution, you should start the turnaround by getting up and walking away. Not walking away from the problem, but walking away from the distraction of the details. When you walk away, you engage the creative part of your brain triggering unique and unforeseen solutions to the problems you are facing. Taking a walk, stretching your legs, or finding a peaceful spot to sit will start the process of changing your mentality. The worst thing you can do when struggling with a problem is to sit and stare at the problem. Get up and move!


2. Take back an hour

Life seems to be stealing your creative time by throwing challenges at you. You know you will have to get back to the problem before long. This is the point at which you want to carve out free-thinking time to come up with creative solutions. Ten minutes, thirty minutes, or an hour is all you will need but you must first define the amount of time then commit to allowing no interruptions. Defining the amount of time set aside for creativity is like a gift to your thinking process. You are not abandoning the problem, you are simply taking a “time out” from the problem to focus on creative solutions.


3. Ask “What if?” 

Asking yourself the right questions will point your creative mind in the right direction.

Ask: “What if my troubles are trying to show me something? What would that be? What are the troubles trying to tell me?” Pause and listen to your mind for the answers. Giving the trouble a voice is a new perspective that allows a new type of imagination.

Ask: “What if I could eliminate my troubles permanently? How would I do that?” Asking this question allows you to float above the problem to examine a more global perspective. What if I was a consultant to my own activities? What would I truly tell myself about this situation? Sometimes a step back and examination of my own behaviors and limitations can be the beginning of true revelation. Now pause to start writing down your ideas. Don’t give up until you’ve found the third or fourth right answer. Many times, the discovery is found in a deeper examination of a good answer making it a great solution.

Chaos can be as valuable of a trigger for creativity as peace. Both chaos and peace force us to abandon non-essential challenges to focus on essential solutions. Don’t give up during a bad day, use the trouble to your advantage.

Dr. Mark Lewandowski

Mark is an entrepreneur and leader in the hospice and palliative care industry. He did doctoral and post-doctoral study in Creativity and Innovation at Walden University and Stanford University.