How To Be More Creative in Your Personal and Professional Life
Creativity, like happiness, turns out to be an elusive objective. The more you want to be creative, the harder it seems to actually be. The more you relax, become more open to new experiences and new ways of thinking, the more creative you will end up being. This happens because, like happiness, creativity is a result of more than just one action or attitude.
So which are the ways you can become more creative in your personal life and in your work?
Feed your curiosity
Like the authors of the book “The Molecule of More” write, Creativity is our brain at its best. In order to be at our best and to grow, we need new physical and mental experiences. Just like children need to explore the world around them in order to develop physically and mentally, we also need to engage and explore with the world around us in order to be more creative. This is why, no matter what is your professional area (artistic or scientific), new and different experiences might prove to be missing link in your creativity quest.
How does this translates in real life?
• From time to time, say yes to activities which you would usually reject.
• Once in a while, read a book about a subject you know nothing about.
• Revive an interest or a hobby you had as a child or teenager and which you have neglected ever since.
• When you hear or read an opinion that is totally different from yours, try not to dismiss it as nonsense, but try to find arguments for it.
• When you meet a person you think you have nothing in common with, engage in a conversation without judging or comparing.
Learn new things and practice new skills. Focus on effort
Although we have a romanticized perspective on creativity as an inspiration that comes to us in special moments, the reality is that without a significant effort to learn new information and practice our skills, our creative efforts will not yield impressive results. Whatever is the domain you want to become more creative, it is essential to learn as much as you can about it in order to be able to innovate it.
One problem, infinite solutions
Usually, when we decide to be more creative, we try to think of one or maybe 3 or 5 ideas for a problem or challenge we encounter. One approach that might help your creativity is to try o find 100 of them. The most absurd, weird, unrealistic ideas can be taken into consideration. This is what imagination actually means and this is how many successful ideas have started.
Read, interact and listen to creative people
This will help you see that most success stories of creative people have the same elements (they begin with the need to solve a problem that is important to them, reframing and creating a new solution, inspiring others and creating partnerships with people who can contribute to the creative endeavor.).
Creative people's stories will also teach you that many times, creativity comes as a result of a series of failures and mistakes and that persistence and discipline are essential to success.
Gradually change your limiting beliefs and habits
The biggest obstacles in the way of personal and professional creativity are the inner ones: the voice in your head that criticizes every attempt you make, the lack of discipline and the habit of procrastinating, the focus on problems instead of opportunities and the fixed self image that tells you that you are not the “creative type”. Each one of these beliefs or habits must be challenged and discarded in order to unleash your creativity. Everyone has the potential to be creative, if they put in the necessary effort and find their intrinsical motivation for the creative pursuit.
Exercises of creativity
Tina Seelig in her book, Creativity Rules, describes many exercises that can help us become more creative. Here are two of them, which you can apply in your work or personal life.
Choose an industry or an aspect of your personal life. Write down all your assumptions about this domain that come up in your mind. Then, write the opposite of each and think how the opposite could be made real. For instance, if you work in a hospital, some ideas that come to mind when you think about it are: the anxiety of the patients, the inefficient communication with doctors, the long wait in the emergency room or the bad hospital food. Whatever ideas come to your mind, write them down. Then, write the opposite of them and think about ways in which each opposite idea could become reality. The same exercise can be made with an aspect of your personal life. If you choose physical activity, the things that come to mind might be: not enough time for sport, it is difficult, I am too tired for it. Then, after writing down the opposite of each, think of ways in which you can make them true.
Write 5 possible paths for your life. If you are looking for a career change or you are trying to find ways to move forward in your professional life, start by looking at 5 (or less) completely different job ads. Write down for each of them the future opportunities that might bring and the possible paths that might open for you. Even if you know that you can only choose one (or none), the exercise helps you think in terms of opportunities and possibilities. These are basic concepts when it comes to creativity.
There is no unique recipe for creativity, the path towards it might look different for each of us, but these general suggestions can be a good starting point.