Hacking your own creativity
Whoever told you that you weren’t creative was a liar. (Yes, even if that person was you.) The reality is that creativity is just like every other skill. It’s not a magic spark or a personality trait. It’s not a mystical cloud that descends upon art school kids when they mix enough eyeliner, emotional angst, and Prisma colors.
Different names for creativity might sound more accessible to you, like, “thinking outside the box,” or “problem-solving.” You can practice and strengthen your ability to be creative in ways that will open opportunities, improve your mental health, and make your job more enjoyable.
Here are 7 actionable ways to practice creativity:
1. Change up your routine.
Moving outside of normal habits and patterns is an easy way to warm up your creative muscles. Take a different route to work, change up your morning ritual, make a new recipe for dinner (or even order from a restaurant you’ve never been to before). Putting new choices in front of your brain wakes you up and forces you to turn off autopilot.
2. Get comfy with failure.
Failure is almost everybody’s least favorite f-word. Inside of capitalism, we’re conditioned to only see value in a creative product that could be sold for profit. (I did just @ capitalism.) That’s an incredible amount of pressure to put on yourself when you’re just wanting to learn about being more creative. You don’t have to make anything amazing, you don’t have to write an incredible novel, you don’t have to come up with THE idea, you just need to find value for the process.
3. Listen to people younger than you.
We view the world differently at different stages of life. Find someone to be a reverse mentor for you, someone five, ten, or fifteen years younger. Take them to coffee and explain that you’d like to expand your horizons. Ask them what you should know about…maybe it’s how to use TikTok, a new trend, or what people are talking about on campus. Getting outside of your usual perspective is a great way to practice thinking creatively.
4. Don’t cower to the tyranny of the urgent.
There are at least seven different digital ways to get ahold of me. When your clients have access to you like that, it’s hard not to feel like a firefighter doing reactionary work all the time. Put major boundaries around your time and designate a portion of your day to respond to trends, get back to clients, and do reactionary work. Set aside another part of your day (and guard it with your life) to cultivate creativity and work on big-picture visionary projects.
5. Commit to a daily creative practice.
Maybe it’s writing one page a day, drawing a square of a cartoon, or taking fifteen minutes to play a pretend game with you four-year-old. It could even be playing Dungeons & Dragons, just do something that makes you think creatively and commit to it. There will be days where it feels like work and that’s because it is. Flexing your creative brain is like doing reps in the gym. You’ll only see gains after you put in consistent work.
6. Move your body.
There are innumerable mental and physical health benefits to leaving your desk and going on a 20-minute walk. Sometimes just getting that space and getting outside can get your creative juices flowing. If that’s physically not feasible for you, google chair yoga or just do a few rounds of breathing exercises.
7. Claim it.
How we speak about ourselves has a huge impact on our subconscious expectations. If you have genuinely believed that you weren’t creative for an extended period of time, you need to break the habit of viewing yourself that way. Start with a morning mantra on your drive to work. It could be, “I’m incredible at problem-solving,” or “I always have a new idea.” It could even be, “I’m a sparkling creative land-mermaid and I have sick new ideas every damn day.” Whatever works for you.
Let’s close with this – every field is a creative field. Whatever your role or your job, there are new, better, inventive ways to do it – and you’re going to find out what they are. Cultivate creativity and kick some ass, we believe in you.