Comparison kills creativity

  • creativity
  • design
  • product development
  • learning
  • motivation

For some time now I’ve had a few product ideas waiting to be worked on, but I’ve been lacking both time and motivation to get started on them.

A few days ago I came up with an idea to fix the motivation part; I simply had to immerse myself in the stuff, whatever I was doing. Trying to maximize my product development productivity levels basically.

  • In need of news? Read about the latest innovative products! 💪
  • Slowsurfing the web? Learn about new design principles! 🕺
  • Couch potato-mode watching Netflix? Abstract: The Art of Design! 🔥 (great series btw)

I started looking up websites and blogs that were pumping out daily news articles and planned to compile all these into a single feed. Then I’d just have to scroll through everything once a day and boom – motivation overload.

Well, after finding an interesting website and spending about 30 minutes (that felt like 5) on looking at people’s work, I found myself even less motivated to get started on my own than before. That’s not very productive… What happened?

“Comparison is the thief of joy” — Theodore Roosevelt

Comparing your own situation to someone else’s is almost always a bad horrible idea. Just look at what affect social media has had on society. People are constantly comparing their own seemingly mundane lives to other people’s carefully curated feeds, and end up feeling like shit for no reason.

That’s pretty much how I felt after seeing all the amazing products that people were creating out there, while my own, next to empty portfolio was collecting dust.

“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself…” — Marcus Aurelius

By comparing yourself to others, not only do you lose time that could’ve been invested in your own life, but you also deprive your own thoughts from their originality. If you keep disrupting your own work with work of others, you’ll never get a chance to express your own ideas.

“But Alex, I need that inspiration…”

True, and there’s nothing wrong with longing for a little push in the right direction sometimes, especially when it comes to creative work. What you can do instead is look for other sources of inspiration that’ll keep the act of comparison away.

If you’re designing a new chair and need inspiration to continue, look into other types of furniture or interior objects, take a look at architecture, or take inspiration from how a similar need (in this case seating) has been solved in nature.

But for the love of God, don’t go to Pinterest and search for “innovative chair”, because that’s straight up creativity suicide.