We investigated whether the effect of goal difficulty on creativity may be clarified by examining how people appraise their working conditions. In an experiment, 157 undergraduate students completed a divergent thinking task for which goal difficulty was manipulated. Stress appraisals were assessed through self-reports, and creativity was evaluated by independent judges. Results indicated that difficult goals, although categorized as a challenge stressor, can also be appraised as a hindrance and/or a threat. Although there was a direct positive effect of difficult goals on creative performance, hindrance appraisals partially mediated a negative relationship between goal difficulty and creative performance. Results highlight that stress appraisals can help clarify inconsistent effects of stressors, with implications for managing creativity.