It’s easy to believe that exercising creativity is the reserve of artists, writers and musicians, something most of us put down with the toys of childhood, but we would be wrong. To be human is to be creative. As Brené Brown says ‘creativity is the way I share my soul with the world.’ If you are not feeling fulfilled in your career or life, one of the causes will be unexpressed creativity.
Exercising your creativity is how you make your unique contribution to humanity. There’s an infinite number of ways creativity can be expressed. I’ve come to realise that some things will only come into the world through me.
Whether it’s a familiar friend, or a dormant skill waiting to be resurrected, here are 7 ways to start exercising your creativity.
Curiosity is the foundation of creativity. You cannot be creative without an inquisitive mind, a hunger for learning, a desire to expand your horizons or a genuine interest in the world around you. As children, we all had that wide-eyed curiosity before the responsibilities of adulthood took over.
Exercising your creativity is staying open to new ideas and possibilities. Wondering why and why not? It’s viewing life as an adventure of discovery.
In these times of restricted movement and limitation, it can be difficult to change our routines, but we can always find ways to shake things up. Even if it’s cooking something new, or walking a different route, we can endeavour to see the world with fresh eyes. As Beckett said ‘habit is a great deadener. ’ It’s the beginner mindset that stimulates creativity.
Whilst social media and browsing online can be a source of inspiration, education and fun, it can also be a dreadful waste of time. The brain seeks stimulation, but mindless browsing is junk food, exercising your creativity is feasting on a gourmet meal.
Constant connection fuels procrastination for creativity projects. There comes a point when we have to disconnect from the external world to allow space for our creativity to bloom.
The word inspiration comes from the Latin ‘inspiratus’ meaning ‘to breathe into.’ What inspires you? It might be spending time in nature, listening to music, or watching a TED talk. The stories of people who have overcome challenges, persevered in the face of adversity, or fought for justice will always be inspirational. Because inspiration and creativity go hand in hand, it’s worthwhile knowing your sources of inspiration so you can connect with them purposefully.
We all hold beliefs around creativity, ranging from a fear of being judged and not being good enough, to a desire for perfection, wanting to feel expert and fully ready before embarking on a creative pursuit. What stops you from exercising your creativity is the question that will identify your unconscious shackles. Creativity always requires a leap into the unknown, so you will never feel ready. There’s also the common belief that creativity demands sacrifice and suffering, but as all children know, creativity is not about skills or talent, it’s play and practice, the fun of attempting something new.
When we were in school we had dedicated playtime. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if as adults we gifted ourselves play or creative time? Julia Cameron, author of ‘The Artist’s Way’ a manual for overcoming creative blocks, suggests taking 30 minutes each morning to free write in a journal.
In the corporate world, I’ve coaching clients who schedule time to think, knowing that the quality of their decisions is a bi-product of the quality of their thinking. If you’re seeking to lean into your creativity, you have to make space for it.
It’s easy to confuse talking about your ideas and projects with actually producing something. Whilst daydreaming and allowing ideas to incubate are part of the creative process, there comes a point when you want to create something tangible. There’s a satisfaction that comes from holding something you’ve created in your hands.
Creativity is not what you do, it’s who you are. Exercising your creativity is one of the key differences between achievement and fulfilment. There’s a common coaching question that goes – what would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail? From a creativity perspective, there’s a more powerful version – what would I do even if I knew I would fail? This takes the pressure off, as it’s no longer about the outcome, the focus is on the process, and that’s what creativity is all about.
I hope you enjoyed this post and that it inspires you to embrace your inner creativity. Sometimes in order to help our creativity flow, we have to move beyond our comfort zones. If this is something you struggle with then make sure you read my post Moving Beyond Your Comfort Zones and if you like to listen to podcasts then make listen to this episode of my podcast Your Time With James Sweetman where I deal with this topic.
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