The Creative Process: Part 1 | Wading through uncertainty


People assume and reinforce the idea that some people are creative and others aren’t. Those who harness their potential and work through the process become unique, different, authentic even. So few of us leverage our creativity and see how it is linked to how much satisfaction we experience in our lives, including earning potential, quality of relationships, job satisfaction, community involvement, spiritual development…The list goes on.

Living a Big Life requires imagination. But letting go of control (or a linear way of thinking) is a lot harder than it seems. When we choose to live a life that is exciting and satisfying, we have to tap into our childlike imaginations. Oftentimes, our imagination is suppressed through inevitable hurts, disappointments and failures as we grow into adults. It’s no wonder we get debunked creatively. Our minds don’t like risk or uncertainty. It triggers fear of loss, rejection and instability.

Our “assignment” then becomes to reconnect with these little parts of ourselves in order to dream and remove all limitations.

I see this all the time with clients. They get really excited about the possibilities of their home improvement projects and then doubt their decisions through the process of bringing their (and our) collective visions to life.

It’s no wonder we get debunked creatively. Our minds don’t like risk or uncertainty. It triggers fear of loss, rejection and instability. But, the more we’re able to gracefully engage with ambiguity, the better able we are to build resilient muscles to weather the storms of uncertainty that are part of the creative process. Accept that uncertainty is part of making great decisions and reaching the outcome. It’s all part of the process.

Uncertainty is the fertile ground of pure creativity and freedom.
— Deepak Chopra

Debugging the Creative Process

Most people have underdeveloped creative muscles. Part of the problem is that society has both elevated and condemned creative types. Either they are too eccentric and weird, such as the urban artist with pink hair and multiple piercings, or they are brilliant and exalted, such as Steve Jobs. Most people don’t relate to them because they feel superior or inferior.

But the creative process applies to every single aspect of our lives (and to everyone), whether it’s patching up a friendship or broken marriage to redesigning your master bedroom or dream kitchen. Use your own process to create some understanding and structure into a very uncertain, complex and organic way of doing things.

6 Steps to Create

Though everyone’s creativity is different, use this six-step guide to help you get organized, clear and intentional about what — and how — you create.
1. C — onstruction
2. R — umination
3. E — xperimentation
4. A — wareness
5. T — ailoring
6. E — xecution


This is the most mundane phase of the process, which is why most people give up at first swipe. It’s research time, when you gather and form ideas and take stock of what challenges must be overcome. As an interior designer, I will develop concepts and get inspired through various ways such as nature, magazines, books, shopping, online research, etc. Pinterest, Instagram and Google are my best friends during this phase!


This is an incubation phase. It’s the most mystical time of the process in that you don’t know when the idea is going to form and present itself. It’s the phase where your conscious and subconscious are working through ideas, making new connections, separating out unnecessary ideas and grabbing for fresh concepts. I cannot emphasize enough how patience and trust are essential parts of this phase. The “right timing” is almost never up to us, but to the Powers that Be.


This is an extension of rumination in that our minds have produced maybe a few scenarios that will potentially work. We must begin to sort through them with additional research and pondering. It’s best to keep moving forward during this time because the tendency is to get distracted by our daily lives with the constant beeps and buzzes of modern technology. Our own negativity gets in the way, and we often talk ourselves out of a good idea. I find it’s helpful to set a timer for 20 minutes at a time and play around with various parts of my project puzzles, whether it’s furniture selections and window treatments for a living room, or a list for a kitchen renovation project.


This is the “Eureka” moment — when the right idea is illuminated. Sometimes, many toiling hours have been spent to get to this place. The right idea can come at the most inopportune time (in the shower or just before bed, anyone?), but the key is to get it down ASAP! No matter what. Otherwise you’ll end up trying to remember what that great idea was.


The process of refinement is key. If you’re detail-oriented and quality driven, this phase of the creative process can make or break a project. It’s what separates the women from the girls and oozes experience and know how. With my interior design projects, I often tailor by adding a beautiful trim to enhance a window covering or pillow. Or I might include an additional drawer insert in a utensils drawer in a kitchen that enhances the usability of the space. This is all about customization.


Ideas are GREAT…but it’s making them happen that matters. This final phase of the process crosses all boundaries and barriers to get it done. Often, there’s recycling of the creative process as things shift and change to become reality. Most linear thinkers struggle with this phase as they are more focused on the outcome than the process by which it takes to get to the outcome.

Creativity is not just about coming up with ideas. Between ruminating and awareness, there are numerous phases of hard work. Bringing great ideas to reality is a social endeavor. Involving other people enhances our ability to expand our thinking and make the process much more inviting.

Remember: YOU ARE CREATIVE. Start using your own unique process to elevate the way you live and how you get there.

Lindsey Cavanaugh