Sigmund Freud had many culturally-based, biased ideas (for instance, about “hysterical women”), many weird ideas, many off-base ideas, and many brilliant ideas. One of his very smartest ideas was the notion of “defense mechanisms,” a subject that his daughter Anna Freud also investigated.

Between them, they identified a score of defense mechanisms that human beings regularly employ, mechanisms with names like “denial,” “rationalization.” “intellectualization,” and so forth. In the process, they painted a clear, true picture of just how tricky we human beings are.

In its own way, that is the theme of today’s post from creativity coach LA Bourgeois, who describes how we can “trick ourselves” into making creativity a habit.

LA explained:

Are you a stubborn human? I am. I can look at something that is good for me and that I would love to work on and then run away like I’m a teenager yelling “You can’t tell me what to do!” before slamming the door and disappearing. 

So, I decided that I needed to trick myself in order to reach any of my creative goals. I figured out a system that worked for me, and it can work for you. Here are my “Four Steps to Trick Yourself into a Creative Habit.”

1. Decide on Your Goal

Make sure that your goal connects to your dream in a significant way. You want this goal to be something that gets your feet moving when you just want to collapse. The moment you look at your goal and say “How can I make this happen?”—know you have picked the right thing to pursue.

2. Pick One Tiny Step You Can Take Toward Your Goal

How do you make this happen? Pick an itty-bitty, repeatable step, a step you are willing and excited to take. Something that you can’t possibly NOT achieve and which also shuffles you a little closer to your goal each day.

If you’re a writer, perhaps you’ll write for fifteen minutes a day. If you’re a painter, can you schedule a half-hour with your easel? What is the smallest repeatable step you can take regularly?

3. Create a Ritual Around that Step

Now that you’ve decided on your task, create an order to your day that propels you into your creative space, forcing you to work.

Visualize taking that single, small step you chose. See it fitting into your current routine. If it doesn’t feel comfortable and doable, consider making a change (Instead of waking early, can you go to bed later? Maybe take a break in the middle of your day?). Continue tweaking your vision until it feels easy to do.

Set your stage. What items do you need ready to go when you enter your creative space? Gather your supplies and set everything up ahead of time. Then, when the time comes, you are ready to work.

4. Celebrate Your Victory

When you’ve completed your task each day, bask in the triumph of showing up! Celebrate your victory in a way that will help you repeat that step each day. (I like to dance my way to the shower.)

One Final Thing

The key is finding the step that you are willing to take and then taking that step every day that you can. But here’s the deal. You will have those days—a day you overslept, a day when you feel sick, a day when you have to get the trash out and the dog runs outside to bark at a deer and you spend your creative time corralling him back into the house.

Your real goal is that, instead of dwelling on missed time, you show up brand new the next day. Don’t let yesterday seep into today. Return to your work with your head held high, again and again and again.

Now, you’ve tricked yourself into forming a creative habit.


You can visit LA Bourgeois at

You can visit Eric Maisel at

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