I remember the day vividly.
It had been a long day of teaching, and it was almost time to head home. I wanted to enjoy a few minutes of silence before fighting traffic, so I slouched down in my office chair and stared at the bookcase next to me.
I was exhausted. I was in my mid-30’s and 40 lbs. overweight. I thought about the classes I was teaching: fundamentals of the arts, how to plan worship services, how to speak effectively, and how to creatively use technology.
The irony was that I felt anything but creative. The energy and enthusiasm of my 20’s was long gone. I had no clear vision for my future, and I felt like a complete failure. I had lost my mojo and had no idea how to get it back. I knew I had to make some changes in my life to recapture the energy and momentum I once had.
Can you relate? If you’re tired, burned out, and feel like you’re stuck in a creative rut, this book is for you.
Have You Lost Your Mojo?
What is mojo, exactly? In its most literal sense, it refers to a magic spell or charm that gives unusual power to its owner. As a person of faith, I don’t believe any object can give you special powers. However, I do believe that God gave each of us creative abilities we can use to powerfully impact other.
So in that sense, mojo is a slang or informal term that refers to the momentum and creative energy we have. There’s nothing magical about it, but there’s no denying that you can lose it.
Have you lost yours? Here are a few symptoms to help you decide:
· You feel emotionally, mentally, or physically depleted most of the time
· You lack a compelling vision for your life
· You don’t remember the last time you were inspired by a great movie, good book or some type of art
· You aren’t reading any books that are expanding your mind
· You feel isolated from other creative people
· You don’t have an outlet for your creative gifts
· You are just “getting by” instead of pushing yourself to do your best work
· You generally feel “stuck” in life
· You feel your best days are behind you
· You feel cynical about the present and pessimistic about the future
If you answered “yes” to several of these, you have probably need a good dose of inspiration and encouragement.
But before we get to some solutions, let’s explore where things went wrong in the first place.
Where Did Things Go Wrong?
How do we get to a place where we lose our passion and drive for doing great work? There are several reasons:
1. We are isolated from a creative community.
When we lose touch with creative people who offer support, with people who lift us up rather than pull us down, we quickly lose momentum.
2. We are physically and emotionally depleted.
Our level of creativity is directly tied to our energy. When you’re tired and depleted, you don’t have the capacity to think new thoughts or do your best work.
3. We are comfortable.
When everything in life is going just fine, and we don’t have any challenges that force us to learn and grow, we aren’t compelled to seek creative solutions to problems and live at the highest level.
4. We aren’t feeding our minds.
If you aren’t feeding your mind through books, podcasts, and other means, that will create the conditions for burnout and fatigue.
5. We let life wear us down.
The process of daily life—family, church, job, chores, social functions, relationships—can easily wear us down if we don’t break out of the rut.
6. We are experiencing conflict with others.
Conflict with others, whether at work, home or elsewhere, can absolutely suck the life out of you. Navigating conflict with others is very costly in terms of mental and emotional energy.
7. We are experiencing high stress levels.
When we’re too busy or overcommitted, we simply don’t have the time, or the mental and emotional energy, to be truly creative.
Are you experiencing any of these symptoms? If so, chances are very good that they explain why you feel stuck in a rut. However, there is one factor that lies at the root of all these other issues: fear. Let’s explore how fear is holding you back.
Three Fears Holding You Hostage
There are always factors outside your control that contribute to losing your momentum and energy. But the true culprit lies within. Fear lies at the root of nearly all of the problems that get us off track.
Specifically, three types of fear can hold us hostage and keep us from rising to our potential.
1. Fear of the past.
We are afraid to repeat the mistakes of the past. Perhaps we tried something and it failed. Or maybe we were criticized for our work and can’t bear the thought of going through that again.
When you fear the past, you tend to avoid any risks or changes that might cause the same negative consequences to occur.
2. Fear of the present.
We are afraid to make necessary changes and move forward because it will mean the loss of something. All change brings loss of some kind. But the whole reason for change is that it will bring a positive benefit that outweighs the negative loss.
This is the reason so many people stay in jobs or relationships that are not good for them. They would rather stick with the misery they know than risk the changes they don’t know (but could bring positive results). The loss of the familiar is a powerful motivation for avoiding change.
This is true for any type of change. It explains why so many people fail at getting healthier, or stopping any negative habit. They are afraid of losing the pleasure that comes from eating unhealthy food or indulging in any kind of activity that brings immediate gratification but has harmful long-term effects.
3. Fear of the future.
Sometimes we are worried about the future and what it holds for us. We might lose a job, a relationship, or something else that’s important to us. The future is unknown, and we tend to stick with habits and attitudes that will help us avoid the risk of loss. So we play it safe and don’t make necessary changes.
What is your greatest fear? The past, present, or future? Perhaps all three?
There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that you can never get rid of fear entirely. It’s part of your DNA. But fear is not necessarily a bad thing. When put in its place, it can help us achieve our goals and propel us forward.