143: 21 Tools to Get Through a Creative Funk


“Taking on a proper perspective can temper us for great success and creating a full life.”

Hey, guys, welcome back to ONKEN RADIO (previously NION Radio). In this podcast, we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey!

We all go through funks in our creative journey. In fact, I’m going through one right now. It’s really challenging when your creative outlet is also your living — it adds a whole other level of complication and can make your funk even worse because not only is your creativity not at its best but neither is your money-making.

When I get in a funk, I find myself questioning everything: Am I good enough? Am I on the right path? Am I an impostor? When is the next job coming? My inner critic is raging, and it’s a constant battle not to take any rejection personally.

We can’t choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we deal with them. So today I’m sharing 21 tools to help you get through a funk in your creative career.

What’s Your Funk?

Funks are part of everyone’s journey. They’re all part of the up and down wave of life. Now the thing about funks is they come from different sources. Sometimes, it can be in the lack of presence or judging one’s self. When your funk comes from the latter, expect that its stink will crawl in every aspect of your life, whether it’s business, personal relationships, or career.

But if you think that’s bad enough, there’s something a lot worse about funks—they’re experienced by everyone and your situation doesn’t really matter. You can be in your lowest moment and feel it, but you can also be at the top of the world, and still smell funk everywhere. 

Because the reality will always be that we’re humans. Though we might have different backgrounds and upbringings, we are bound by the lack of uniqueness when it comes to experiencing emotions. We all can be happy, feel giddy, and of course, feel despair and failure as well. We are all capable of emotions.

Despite that, it doesn’t mean that we all react to things similarly. As they say, we can never choose our circumstances, but we can always control how we react to them. I’ve personally known from experiences that powerful people have risen from the trenches of their circumstances and upbringings that are direr than anyone can even ever imagine. And based on the successful people I’ve interviewed and photographed, the common theme is that mindset is the key to get over your funks and reach success.

So before we go through all the different tools to manage their funks better, I challenge you to ask yourself this, “What’s my funk?” Remember that the answer doesn’t need to be solely about money, but it could be about your life in general. Knowing the answer to this question will help you maximize the tools I’m about to share with you. Let’s get started. 

21 Tools to Get You Through a Funk

These are some of the tools I believe are beneficial to get you over a funk.

#1: Perspective Is Key 

Always remember the Persian adage that says, “This too shall pass.” Despite how dark or low of a place you’re in right now, have comfort that all your suffering is destined to end. You’ll be able to get through this, and you’ll be back up on the top of your game in no time. 

#2: Awareness Is Key in Life

I believe that awareness of your emotions, what you’re going through, everything around you, and what you’re thinking is important so that you can know the things that you can change. This is a part of the process I call Identity Alchemy. It might not always be the most pleasant experience, but it can help you shift your perspective to make your life better. 

#3: You Are Not Your Thoughts

Thoughts are just thoughts. Whether we choose to believe them or not is what’s important. Remember that despite everything you’re hearing in your head right now, whether it’s self-doubt or belief, you have the power to choose which one to believe in. 

Knowing that your thoughts don’t define you puts you back in control of your life and your actions.  

#4: Practice Being Present

Eckhart Tolle, in his books A New Earth and the Power of Now, point out that human suffering comes from not being present. There are two scenarios why this happens — we’re either living in the future, and this creates anxiety from worrying about what’s to come or the uncertainty of life, or we’re regretting the past and the things we’ve done that stop us from progressing.

You’ll have a fresh, greater appreciation for living each day to the fullest if you live in the moment. So, first and foremost, take care of yourself, be in the present, and then let the rest fall into where they should belong.

#5: Calming the Inner Critic 

This is similar to number three. If you’re anything like me, you might hear the voice inside your head, questioning whether you’re good enough or whether you have what it takes to succeed. This critic is usually the result of our upbringing. However, it’s been shown that when we buy into those stories, we’re weaving bigger neural nets in our brain that caused these stories to get bigger.

So in case you hear your inner critic, remember that it’s the inner child within you. Avoid yelling at them to shut them up. Avoid ignoring them, too. Instead, calm them down and tell them that it’s going to be okay and you’re going to calm them through it. 

We have to be gentle and take our inner child through the process along with us.

#6: Destress

Stress and anxiety can tear us apart. It can create physical illness and all other kinds of negative things. To keep stress at bay, practice Vedic meditation or transcendental type with a mantra-based meditation. This type of meditation is specifically used to distress the mind to take out the trash thoughts that you have in your head and dump them out.

#7: Movement

Move daily, guys. Movement and exercise keep your blood and mind flowing. It also keeps you in physical shape. When you feel physically better, you operate better. Check out Amanda Bucci on Episode 138 where we talked about how fitness can integrate and catalyze your creativity.

Whether it’s boxing, yoga, or biking, moving helps so much in dealing with your funk and gets you physically fit at the same time.

#8: Eat Healthily

Cutting a lot of carbs and sugars out of my diet made me feel better. And when you feel better, that helps your overall mental state, too. 

The type of healthy food might differ from one person to another, but do what you can to eat healthier and make that an intentional habit. And most importantly, don’t forget to combine healthy eating with exercise.

#9: Forward Movement 

Always focus on making progress, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Limit or get rid of social media. Monitor your activities. In this way, you can do one thing every day that propels you toward your vision and your purpose in your career, relationship, and every life goal there is. 

There’s no need to hurry, though. You can always take on a little step at a time.

#10: Create Something Every Day 

As creatives, I encourage you to challenge yourself to create one thing every day. Use any social media platform as a way to stay accountable for that — post what you create and share it with others. 

Whatever practice, discipline, and craft you have, doing one thing every day will push you one step forward to your creative life.

#11: Get Coaches

Wanting to be a successful creative, entrepreneur, or just be successful in life in general would require you to find a coach who will help take you to your next level personally. You can learn from the best as they can help point out your blind spots to improve on. Definitely recommended! 

#12: Dive Inward

Everything we do or say on the outside all stems from the inside. Thus, it’s important to be internally aware of those things. The inward journeys are the biggest journey you will ever go on. When you dive inward, you create bigger results on the outside. 

#13: Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is something we should practice for every day. If we’re grateful for the things that we have on a small level, whether it’s our talent, opportunity, or the breath that we have, you can find things that you love and those you can be grateful for. 

#14: Look for Things That Bring you Joy

Whenever you’re feeling in a funk, start small, enjoy the present, and find joy in the little things that make you happy. Whether that’s looking up at the sky, taking photographs, reading a book, find things that bring you joy and start with that. Do more of the things that bring you joy. 

#15: Make a Happiness Bucket

Sit down and write a list of things that make you happy across different categories — health, and wellness, creativity, relationships, to name a few. Whatever it is, remember that doing things that make you happy and fill your cup. When you fill your cup, you fill your oxygen tank. You can better be there for others, and you can even help them grow.

#16: Try Energetic Healing

Things like Reiki or acupuncture, sometimes even massage, are different things that can also help bring you to a healthier state. 

#17: Be of Service

Sometimes, giving of yourself and being of service to other people can help you generate happiness. How can you serve someone today?

#18: Surround Yourself with Positive People

This is the only team you should surround yourself with — people that lift you up and that support who you are. When you’re feeling down, they will be there to love you and support you.

Don’t forget to be that positive light for other people as well. You can change someone’s life just by listening to their story. 

#19: Create Art That Makes you Happy 

Create art, take up a hobby, do whatever it takes even if that doesn’t make a lot of money.

 I, for example, love doing a lot of hat commissions. They don’t just allow me to create, but they give me a certain sense of joy, too. Make sure to check them out at onkenhat.com or at @onkenhat on Instagram. 

#20: Get Out of Your Normal Environment 

Travel. Find inspiration. Go to different countries, environments, and cultures and find the things that inspire you. One thing I will say is don’t travel to run away from your problems because you’ll never run away from them. Travel to find inspiration and challenge yourself. 

#21: Align Everything to Your Purpose 

Having a purpose is the key. When you don’t have a purpose, be curious and take a little exploration to find that. 

If you need help exploring, listen to podcasts or read books that change your state of mind, that bring you to an elevated state on a subject that you’re interested in.

Be Your Own Creative Alchemist

Alchemy is defined as the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained.

With that being said, I define Creative Alchemy as using the process of creativity to create a lens through which to perform alchemy. These principles not only apply to artists and creatives in their own creative processes, but to anyone who wants to create an extraordinary life in color for themselves. I’ve found that 80% of creating is alchemizing the thoughts, emotions, and other inner blocks that keep you from putting the pen to the paper. Navigating to the act of creation takes alchemical processes. These processes are necessary to live the best life possible.

The message of today’s episode is huge! Remember that despite the number of funks you might experience in your life, you always can rise over them so you can remain creative and live life in full color.

Thanks again for joining me. By the way, don’t forget to check out my website for more tips and wisdom to take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. If you find this episode valuable, please take a screenshot of the episode and your key takeaways and post it to Instagram and tag me, @nickonken. Also, you can listen to me on Apple Podcasts, just don’t forget to leave a rating and feedback, too.

Before I leave, remember that you are your own Creative Alchemist. Using these tools that I just gave you, you can stop letting funks take control over your life and transform your own pain into something extraordinary today! 

I’ll catch you next time!

Nick Onken


You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And please leave me a Rating and Review!


Some things we learn in this podcast:

  1. You have to keep it in perspective [4:35]
  2. Why you have to be aware of your emotions and what you can change [5:25]
  3. You are not your thoughts [6:00]
  4. Practice presence [6:45]
  5. Try calming your inner critic [7:45]
  6. Meditation can help you de-stress [9:30]
  7. Keep moving your body [10:50]
  8. Eat healthy [12:00]
  9. Do one thing every day [12:35]
  10. Create every day (even if it sucks) [13:20]
  11. Get a coach [14:05]
  12. Dive inward [14:50]
  13. Practice gratitude [15:40]
  14. Look for the things that bring you joy [16:30]
  15. Write a list of what makes you happy [17:15]
  16. Why you should try energetic healing [18:00]
  17. Be of service [18:25]
  18. Surround yourself with positive people [18:40]
  19. Create art that makes you happy [19:20]
  20. Get out of your normal environment[19:40]
  21. Explore to find your purpose [20:05]

Links mentioned:

A FREE email series to create a personal visual brand authentic to who you are.

  • Accelerate your personal brand growth through the Identity Alchemy Method
  • Discover the authentic stories you want to share with your audience
  • Build your personal brand vision and crystallize it with a photoshoot
  • Learn how to ideate and create storytelling visual assets to enhance and up-level your personal brand
  • .. PLUS! You’ll get access my brand building book recs and favorite resources

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.