Constantly hearing the same feedback on your work can have a damaging effect on your creative growth. As a novice, you most likely encountered a variety of opinions on your skills, from the insightful to the absurd. Even the advice you considered to be the least beneficial might still shape your work today. Maintaining that student mentality — a readiness to learn and renew yourself — is one of the best assets you could possess.
A healthy mindset towards your personal growth is great but it might not be enough. You need new voices to provide fresh perspectives, especially if you've been in the creative industry for a long time and frequently repeat the same tasks. There's little chance for professional stagnation if you surround yourself with those who envision the untapped possibilities in what you do.
The Power of Criticism
If you're open to hearing them, new critical perspectives have the ability to reveal your creative blind spots. If you always do things the same way and demonstrate little appetite to improve, you might feel as if you've peaked. But really it's your critical environment that's been tapped out. There are always ways to get better, even on the smallest scale.
Along with revealing areas for improvement, new perspectives can also provide you with the ambition to seek out new challenges — whether that's learning new skills or technology, or a totally different role you hadn't considered for yourself.
Assess Your Scene
It's not uncommon for creatives to get stuck in an “echo chamber” or a feedback loop, where you hear the same voices all the time as they diminish in their power to inspire you to change. The risk is becoming dulled to the effects of new thinking, or a reduced appetite to seek it out.
Look around your professional environment or “bubble”. Who challenges you to get better? It doesn't have to be a friend you regularly speak to, just someone whose opinion you value. If you don't know who that might be, it could be time to build up your network. Making concentrated efforts to get fresh eyes on your work before it goes out to your clients or teammates can reveal areas worth tweaking, which should inject your creative process with a new vitality. Opinions from peers you respect have the power to shatter an echo chamber.
Drive Your Growth
The peers and mentors in your life share in a mutual, unspoken responsibility to help each other get better, but it's really up to you to make sure you're not seeking out the same critical or inspirational input all the time. After all, it is your career. You should be the one at its helm.
Combined with new critical perspectives, one way to reinvigorate your potential for growth is by changing up your information diet. Our brains are sponges that soak up whatever's in front of us, so pay attention to your consumption habits. The media you bring into your life has the power to reinforce your thinking just as much as it can challenge it.
Knowing your biases and old habits is just the first step — making continuous efforts to change them and push yourself to grow is a lifelong journey.