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How To Avoid Creative Burnout as a Marketing Executive

how to avoid burnout as a marketing executiveCreative burnout can a huge problem for marketing and advertising executives, and it’s a challenge to find ways to not only avoid it, but to actively combat it without switching jobs, careers, or simply dropping out.

After thirty years in advertising and marketing, one of the biggest challenges I see is creative burnout. Everyone can get burned out on the job but creatives have the extra burden of dealing with a hyperactive world of change and the constant demand to come up with new, fresh ideas in the face of a chaotic and fast-paced media glut. As a former account guy, I am not going to tell creatives how to be creative, but I can advise them on how to stay fresh.

It is just plain tough to constantly go to the well for ideas and imagination. Yes, new and innovative ideas are supposed to be easy for creatives; that’s what you get paid to do. But when so many ideas get crushed or watered down by risk-averse clients, or by your not-so-simpatico ECD, or even your fellow creative partners, it can become hard to stay inspired and fresh.

How To Know When You Are Burned Out

Everyone’s creative energies come from different places. The reasons you feel stuck or empty will be different from others around you. Creative work is personal and it’s what makes you, you. If you feel like you’re creatively burned out, it may just mean it’s time to change the game. Common signs of creative burnout include:


What Made You Creative?

What made you creative in the first place? In addition to natural talent, my guess is you had one quality that made you different and stand out from the crowd. I’ll call that quality the “beginners mind.” When people begin things, they are always fresh and curious. They don’t know what they don’t know, so are naturally curious and open to discovery and learning, like a playful child. Children do not need to learn how to play; it is inherent in being a child. Children are naturally creative if they are allowed to be.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” ~ Pablo Picasso


How To Avoid Creative Burnout and Survive It

Somewhere along the way, that artist inside you can get hammered down during the course of life and work. My coaching advice is to get back to play rather than get to work. When you feel burned out the more you work, the more you’re burned. Play is the answer; it’s the source of creativity and the remedy for burnout. It is no accident that the most creative companies have the most creative atmosphere, with lots of play opportunities. There is no definition or stereotypical play. It is whatever you say it is.

Research has shown that play puts people into a state that allows for failure. To say “what if?” In that state we can explore, discover, invent, and yes, create.

So, my creative partners, when you are feeling a little burnt around the edges, and looking for that next creative insight, just remember what psychologist Abraham Maslow said:

“Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.”



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