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Bm - Alex Normanton - 23th decembre 2021

Every creative person, at some point in their career, has struggled with issues of self-doubt. Those thoughts and feelings are synonymous with not being able to nail down the idea, doubting your own ability to solve the problem, and questioning whether you still could come up with ideas that are relevant, unique, and distinctive. There can also be feelings of doubt about many aspects of the creative process; from choosing a typeface to finding the most compelling creative territory to "Am I still good enough?"


It is a problem that is so prevalent in the daily life of a creative person within the design, advertising, and marketing departments of various agencies, whether they are large or small, and whether they are a junior or seasoned veteran.


Our minds are famous for tricking us. It is like when you go on vacation, you have packed the car and you are ready to start the long journey. After leaving the house and being halfway there, there's that seed of doubt creeping to the fore of your mind: "Are you sure you closed the door behind you?" As creative people, we are constantly questioning our choices and decisions, production is an extension of oneself; built on care, passion and the desire to do the best work.


Sometimes this search can be a good thing, but sometimes it can cause mental paralysis, indecision, and confusion about the right path to follow.


So why is self-doubt so prevalent within the creative industry?

Self-doubt can stem from a mix of circumstances: having too much down time, working independently in isolation, being overworked, tired, or within a highly pressured and stressful environment. All of these scenarios have the potential to make us question ourselves and our abilities and think hard about every conceivable decision. It's a negative attribute that can bring us to our knees and can have a detrimental effect on our own "creative well-being," attitude, and general state of mind.


In recent years, creativity and the transactional nature of ideas have accelerated, where an "always on" methodology has been adopted and expanded. Client demands are higher than ever, budgets are massively scrutinized, and the overall value, relevance, and credibility of ideas is seen as the silver bullet to fundamentally solve business problems, drive sales, and increase brand recognition. the brand. Creativity has the power to deliver a huge return on investment, and design thinking can certainly change the world, but that has to be done in line with key business goals and strategies. There is an incredible amount of pressure on the currency of ideas and the byproduct of that is the stress and pressure that is produced.


An "always on" approach can lead to unnecessary pressure and a negative side effect on the minds of people working within the industry. The term "agile" has become an industry term far removed from its original intended meaning (i.e. the process, traction, and methodology behind digitally native projects), and now the term has bad connotations associated with try to find the right balance of this ancient golden puzzle:




As creative people, we are constantly putting our ideas and ultimately ourselves out into the world. There may be a lot of emphasis on solving the idea in a short space of time, with a low budget, but with a huge expectation of having ideas similar to Nike, Apple or Oatly. Our creative ideas are an extension of ourselves, we are putting ourselves out in the open, totally open to criticism and criticism, which can be uncomfortable.


Feedback can often be taken so personally, especially if it's not delivered in the most appropriate way. Many of the best creatives, designers, writers, directors, illustrators, artists, etc., are tenacious by nature and invest wholeheartedly in their work. There is a constant drive to do great work, be better at coming up with ideas, and deliver work that really makes a difference and connects with people.


Problems related to the generation of ideas have become more complex in recent times. They often require a more complete and compelling justification for "selling" it, to meet multiple strategic pillars (insert your preferred strategic model here), and to be measured against key performance indicators. Armed with this enormous amount of information, the "idea" person is expected to disappear and return with that "magic" solution.


An original and unique solution offering X, Y, Z and even A, B, C and D. Is it any wonder that this way of working has fueled a sense of self-doubt for people working within the industry? That seed of doubt, meeting all those expectations and in the short term, if not kept in check, could send you down the rabbit hole of negative thinking and indecision.


Constantly working in an openly critical industry can have a long-term negative side effect, both on our ideas and, more importantly, on our minds. Working with someone who is overly critical, overly analytical, or ego-driven can bring down our confidence and our ability to communicate effectively. And, before you know it, we can be a nervous wreck trying to function and feeling the pressure to constantly prove ourselves.


Having worked with both personality types, from the arrogant to the super analytical, both do not nurture nor help the creative process. In fact, these experiences can make us feel insecure, amplifying and further supporting those feelings of self-doubt.


Newsflash... There is not only one correct answer to solve the report. We are not making a selection of mathematical equations. Creativity does not flow from a set of rules or formulas, it is not a straight line from point A to point B. It is often an organic process, with many influences, unexpected twists and turns, intelligence, wit, humor, simplicity, and (hopefully) a smile inside the mind (in addition to a good portion of fun). These feelings of self-doubt could stem from the process itself: fear of the unknown or making the "wrong decision," potential worries of "will the client like it" or "will the Creative Director get it"? If there are no right or wrong answers, then we should fully embrace the journey and be enlightened by an unexpected outcome.



How do we shift from self-doubt to a mindset of self-confidence?

We invest a lot in the tools we need for our jobs. Wacom tablets, laptops and all software training.


However, the one thing worth the most investment is our state of mind and our creative well-being. We often neglect our minds and our own mental health. Our mind is our greatest asset, so we should take care of it. After all, the future of the creative industry depends on the mental health of the people who work in it. Our mind needs to be regularly attended to, calibrated, and given the right stimulus to function properly. The right amount of sleep, diet, exercise, training, therapy, and being in nature can also contribute to a much healthier state of mind. Choose to be thankful, adopt an attitude of gratitude, turn off the laptop, unplug, turn off those notifications, and occasionally hibernate from the noise of social media.


Be kind to yourself, send your inner critic on vacation. Start valuing those opinions of trusted comrades and your cheerleaders in life. We were not made to live in isolation and mentally trapped within our own mental prison. Give yourself a break and start thinking more positive thoughts. You can rewire your brain to be more grateful, always looking for the positive and being grateful for simply being alive and having a pulse. It is only when we begin to fully embrace this attitude that we can move on to an attitude of truly believing in ourselves.


In Nike's words, "Just do it," because believing in yourself will allow you to do things unimaginable. And if you fail; get up, try and try again.


Image cober: Noah Buscher