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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Get ‘unstuck’ with these 15 motivation-boosting strategies

Feeling “stuck” can have a negative impact on multiple areas of your business. Thankfully, there are ways to reignite your creative spark.

Get ‘unstuck’ with these 15 motivation-boosting strategies
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

No matter how successful their company is, it’s common for business owners and their teams to feel stuck in a rut. Whether employees aren’t as productive or creativity is no longer flowing, these circumstances can cause a drop in sales and have a negative impact on company culture overall.

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If this feels like the situation you’re in, there are some ways to get “unstuck” and jumpstart your business’s success. Below, 15 members of Fast Company Executive Board shared some tips for sparking unique creativity for your brand in 2022.

1. LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND

A lot of people think that creativity is a “Eureka!” moment where you are struck suddenly with a great idea or insight. That does happen sometimes; however, I believe the better way to go about it is by caring deeply, listening, and really understanding your customer. What are their opportunities, challenges and how can you help? Then jointly iterate with them to find the right solution. – Sunil Rajasekar, Mindbody

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2. CLEAR YOUR MIND

Step away from what you are doing. Clear your mind and free it from what’s keeping you stationary in your workflow. Giving your mind a break will allow you to come back to your challenge with a fresh perspective and a new opportunity to tackle it. – Brad Burns, Wayne Contracting

3. PROVIDE A SOLUTION

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Although this reads backward, when you want to spark the creativity of your people, give them the desired outcomes and the parameters in which to solve the problem. If not, too often people lose focus and end up being creative, but, their creativity doesn’t address the pain point or add value. Ask, is it creativity or a solution that can be implemented? – Will Conaway, The HCI Group (A Tech Mahindra Company)

4. PURSUE UNCHARTED APPROACHES

Unfortunately, we tend to choose solutions that have already been defined or explored by someone else simply because it’s often easier to apply those to our challenges. But those solutions aren’t always the best. I’m holding myself accountable for pursuing the big, the exciting, and the completely uncharted in 2022 to keep creative approaches and solutions flowing. – Ryan Anderson, Filevine

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5. EMULATE OTHERS

Creativity happens everywhere and one of the best ways to foster creativity is to emulate others. Start the year off by connecting with five creative types in your network and ask each of them to provide you with three suggestions for being more creative in 2022. I promise you one of those ideas will be something you emulate and implement. – Brendan P. Keegan, Merchants Fleet

6. THINK WITH YOUR HANDS

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Get out of your head and think with your hands. Feeling stuck is something that happens in our heads, so step away from passive thought and get kinesthetic. Thinking with your hands allows you and your team the opportunity to uncover ideas you didn’t even know you had. Bring in the LEGO® bricks, modeling clay, scissors, and magazines. Ask some questions and see what your hands come up with! – Van Lai-DuMone, worksmart Advantage

7. EXPLORE THE UNKNOWN

Gain an outside-in perspective, explore the unknown, and experiment with new technologies, collaborators, and experiences. For example, we uncover growth-focused opportunities otherwise not realized across emerging technologies, innovations, and brand experiences and then design test-and-learn pilot programs that ignite, inspire and educate without a heavy investment. – Val Vacante, Merkle, a dentsu company

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8. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Get out of your comfort zone. If you are in the widgets business, spend some time studying anything but widgets. Check out commercials, events, magazines, and anything else you can think of outside your industry. Innovative ideas can come from anywhere. You are not going to be inspired by staring at the same old thing every day! – Alex Husted, HELPSY

9. ASK FOR OUTSIDE FEEDBACK

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It’s natural for internal experts to get caught up in high-level thinking 24/7. To change things up, it can be beneficial to get feedback from people outside of the company who are more-so junior in the industry or craft. They are often brimming with ideas and unique thought processes that can serve as a great starting point for something bigger and better. – Ido Wiesenberg, Voyantis

10. STAY CLOSE TO COMPETITORS

Staying close to competitors and adjacent industries can be amazing for inspiration but really getting tight on your authentic brand story is crucial to stay fresh and creative. Take a moment to revisit the basics. Why do you do what you do? What inspires you to show up each day? How is this manifesting in what your product does that’s truly unique? – Amaya Weddle, bande

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11. ABSORB INFORMATION

My most creative moments always come from spending significant time absorbing a lot of information and then walking away for a bit. The creative spark comes when I detach from the analytical and let my subconscious put the pieces together or connect the dots. It’s a nonlinear approach using critical thinking, intuition, and experimentation to deliver a more imaginative solution to a problem. – Leigh Dow, Identiv

12. TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS

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Talk to your customers. Those that are using your products and services are likely doing some really innovative things and potentially have new ideas for your brand. Our customer community on social media is thriving; we actually implemented 300+ unique customer ideas last year into our platform that help all of our customers continue to grow. – Jason VandeBoom, ActiveCampaign

13. TAKE A STEP BACK

If you feel like you’re stuck on a hamster wheel and not making any progress, it’s time to stop and take a step back to look at the big picture. What can you change? Maybe it’s a simple workflow issue or shifting an employee to a different position. Being open to change and not being afraid to pivot can move your brand forward at a much quicker pace. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing

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14. SEEK NEW INFORMATION

Pick up a book, listen to a podcast or subscribe to email newsletters. Keep feeding the coffers with new information, approaches, trends, and advice. Trying to continually kick up the dust in a stagnant plain does not deliver. Seek outside influences, including your peers! – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

15. WALK IN NEW ENVIRONMENTS EVERY DAY

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There’s a fascinating Stanford study that shows that walking actually leads to greater creativity in problem-solving. Writer Julia Cameron also recommends 30 minutes of brisk walking to get new ideas.  How about committing to walking every day to expose yourself to new environments. You’ll find inspiration for creativity with just a bit of movement and feel good too.  – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

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