Courtesy of 铁蛋骑士 (

Courtesy of 铁蛋骑士 (

The term “layoff” has come to have a negative connotation. And it really doesn’t have to be that way.

Many associate the term closely with the loss of a job. From there it may even be associated with the loss of money, then loss of identity, then loss of meaning in your life. — Yikes! That’s heavy.

However, a layoff can also just mean taking a break. This just happens to be a very crucial phase of the creative process. If you’re struggling to find a creative idea or creative solution to your problem, the answer may be a mental layoff. Or, as I like to call it, a self-imposed “creative layoff.”

A creative layoff is the act of letting go of your struggle to find a solution, thereby allowing a creative solution to find its way to you.

When we are stressed our mind becomes fixated on certain perceptions. It is a biological response that enables us to react quickly to our environment. However, when you want to be innovative and come up with something new, you want access to multiple perceptions.

So stop fighting your problem. Don’t force your way through it. Learn to let it go.

Stop struggling with what you think you should be thinking about and place your attention elsewhere. Take a walk, take a bath, read the paper, listen to music. (In many psychological circles it’s referred to as diffused attention.)

Or, you can choose to stop thinking altogether.

No, I don’t mean knocking yourself unconscious. Take a nap or meditate. Many math solutions, inventions, business ideas, and new works of art were attained or inspired after a good night’s sleep.

You can also lose your conscious mind by falling into a trance while doing something creative like free drawing, drumming, or dancing. Bust out those glow sticks — have yourself a one-person rave in your living room (you know you want to).

Of course, the same advice also applies to dealing with an actual employment layoff. If you want to find several possibilities for dealing with the situation (rather than approach it the same way as you always have, and later finding yourself in similar employment circumstances) you may want to use an employment layoff as a call to wake up to new creative possibilities in your life. Maybe you can make a career change into a profession that’s more satisfying, enjoyable, and possibly more financially fruitful.

With whatever issue your brain is grappling with, if you’re feeling stuck, you may just need to take a creative layoff in order to attain the creative payoff.

It’s a cheesy phrase, but it’s memoriable, isn’t it?