Mindful Ways to Manage Creative Expectations

creative expectations, managing creative expectations, mindfulness, creativity, Creative Katrina, creative process


It happens to the best of us when we create – the rise of pesky creative expectations!


When tuned into the passion of the creative process and fully engaged, energy is high and we are immersed in building what we envision. Inspiration is flowing and the creative process is organically emergent and natural.


What we might not realize is that we are also adding a few creative expectations to the mix, unconsciously.


For example, we can create art, a film, or write a draft that showcases our creative voice and pour our heart and soul into it. At the same time, we can unconsciously add in “caveats” that influence how we value what we are creating. It’s not always obvious that these elements are lurking in the shadows, inadvertently impacting how we judge or admire our own creative expression.


The general attitude and energy may show up as:

  • Expectations about the number of likes and shares of our creative expressions on social media, and feeling emotional about the results
  • Counting on a sale for the creative effort to be “worth it”
  • Forcing a certain angle of design because you feel it will sell better, even though you aren’t drawn to the approach
  • Fear that you, and your work, are not good enough, making you second guess yourself and talents
  • Attachment to and fixation on how everything will unfold – and if a creative endeavor will reach a specific outcome financially or in terms of personal recognition


The truth is, we all need to learn to manage creative expectations. They are part of being a human and creating on the planet. How they show up for each of us, however, will be different because of our personal value system, upbringing, and unique life experiences.


Grab a Read on What’s True for You, Own It


First and foremost, we must be willing to know ourselves.


What are your tendencies and tics? How do you value your own work? What sets you off and makes you judge yourself, others, or your creative expressions?


We also need to see what types of attachments we have, and dig into “why”.  Are you fighting to be seen and acknowledged? Are you listening to the voice in your head that says, “How dare you think you can do this and be successful?” Or is the voice of a friend or family member ringing in your heart saying, “What makes you so special?”


Many of us have felt misunderstood, especially when it comes to our creative self expression. Holding a passionate vision in our head and flowing with it doesn’t come with a set of clear instructions. It’s a feeling, which also means it’s not always easy to explain to others.

When what we are expressing seems confusing or misunderstood by friends, family, or the world at large, we can feel judged and experience shame. This can kick-off the subconscious act of building creative expectations that match expectations of others, rather than what we desire to build for ourselves.


Tips to Manage Creative Expectations


To move through this experience, especially when you start to feel the tension and intensity of creative expectations, work towards shaping some objective perspective. Start by separating fact from fiction – not in the “cold hard facts” sense, but by clarifying the personal creative truth in your heart and soul.


Here are some tips to help you reconnect with the source of your passion before creative expectations jumped on board:


Try to tune into what you are afraid of or the feeling specifically. When we know where fear is coming from we can greet it and say hello. This often dismantles the impact as it’s no longer an “unknown feeling”, and we can find practical ways to address it. Journal about it, meditate, go for a walk, exercise, spend time in nature or just be with the feeling of fear, and experience it. It allows you to realize it’s not life threatening, and you can allow it to pass through to finally release it.


Clarify what you value. As we grow up, it’s easy to adopt other people’s values as our own. To get clear on what you value, write down some simple notes or consult a list of values to help you decipher what’s of real value to you now. Clarity in this area helps tune out the noise, zero in on what’s truly important, and shifts how we manage creative expectations into a positive direction.


Write out creative expectations, positive or negative. It sounds simple, but knowing go-to creative expectations and how they jump in behind the scenes goes a long way in watering down their impact. It also helps us zoom in on the attachments or aversions we subconsciously create around those expectations. For example, if you are afraid to hear feedback because it may be negative, you can have an aversion to sharing your work in a bigger way.


Build a support network of like minds and hearts for an objective perspective. There’s something very powerful about connecting with other folks going through similar experiences and feelings. Not only can they reflect clear truths back to you and offer fresh perspectives, their support can help you reshape the way you value yourself – and notice when you are placing unnecessary creative expectations on yourself or others in a collaborative team. When we judge ourselves, it’s easy to project onto others and have an attachment to how you should be treated or seen.


Reward yourself. When we have expectations on how we should be rewarded from the outside world, we can often feel unnoticed and under appreciated. While external validation of creative gifts is always a bonus, the most important part of creative expression is doing something because you love it and feeling rewarded from the process, regardless of external rewards. If you’ve been working hard, find a simple way to celebrate and reward yourself – without expecting external accolades or attention.


To read similar blog posts, check out Branching Out into New Creative Waters and Practicing Creative Closure and Coming to Peace with What Is. For some 1on1 time with me to talk about creative challenges, blocks, or new ideas, sign up for an Intro Discovery Session using the blue tab in the bottom right corner.