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January 23, 2017

Cindy Penchina, President

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The worst feeling in the world is being out of ideas.

Day in and day out it’s the same routine: the same emails, blogs, and ebooks go out again and again and again. You know you need to do content marketing, and you know you need to directly engage your leads, and so you do – with stultifying regularity.

It can end up with you feeling uninspired and unmotivated – which translates into ineffective marketing that might check some boxes but doesn’t generate real leads, nurture the ones you have, or push your reach into new territories. It can start to feel like the work you’re doing isn’t even worth anything, which really just compounds the problem: you aren’t motivated because you aren’t excited.

So let’s figure out how to break out of this rut, and turn around effective, energizing, and satisfying creative work.

First – Identify What’s Changed

Why are you in a rut to begin with? There can be lots of reasons. It can be boredom with the work, workplace frustration, stress at home, or any number of other things. The important thing is to think back to a time when you weren’t struggling – and figure out what’s different.

Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of recognizing that something has changed that helps you identify a way to fix it; isolating the difference can change your perspective on it, offering a way forward, even if that path is as simple as “talk to your boss,” or “stop talking to Tim before noon because he’s an energy vampire if he hasn’t had lunch.”

If the problem is bigger – changes to your company’s organizational structure, a longer commute, frustration with your office culture, or isolation from your work’s larger role – it needs to be addressed head-on, preferably with coworkers or superiors. A key part of doing satisfying creative work is having a supportive environment to do it in – so making sure that’s a reality should always be step one.

Second – Try Something New

If the problem is that you keep doing the same ol’ same ol’, then it’s time to mix it up, and discover new opportunities to flex your creative muscles – and wrinkle your brain a little at the same time!

Part of the problem is that digital marketing is very regimented; emails need to be just so, landing pages need to hit certain marks, and it can get very repetitive sending the same emails leading to the same landing pages promoting the same ebooks or consultations or whatever it is your promoting this month. But content doesn’t need to be that limited.

Instead, start focusing on what else you can do to reach people. Expand beyond blogging into video production or podcasting; turn your newsletter into a magazine; get creative! Ruts are self-reinforcing, which means that the best way to break out of one is to start recognizing new possibilities.

Third – Take a Break

Here’s the thing: man was not made to sit in front of a computer screen all day every day. Which means that sometimes we need to refresh our brain muscles by stepping away. And while that could mean getting ten minutes away every few hours, the honest-to-God best way forward is, simply put, to take a vacation.

Because the problem you’re in is that you’re stuck in a routine. Breaking the pattern is crucial; not only does your head get some time off from working through the same six problems every day, but you get a new perspective, a new location, and some new ideas clonking around your noggin.

Fourth - Change Your Point of View

A frequent source of this sense of stress and unmotivation is being stuck in your own perspective; sitting at your desk, working up strategies – it can isolate you from your goal, your audience, or even your client if you have one. So an effective way forward is to take a broader view of the situation – or at least a different one.

Sure. Marketing emails have performed before. But think really hard; can you maximize their value? Can you reach other potential customers through channels you don’t normally exploit? Are your leads getting tired of your messaging? So it’s time to step back and do some good old-fashioned brainstorming: throw ideas against the wall and see what sticks.

In other words, you need to take these invaluable opportunities to explore new possibilities and do some real creative thinking instead of just implementing pre-determined plans. Ruts are by definition paths surrounded by walls that are hard to escape. So don’t focus on the walls so much; instead, focus on where the rut is trying to get you – and find another way there.

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