April 5, 2022
You know how you have this image in your brain about what “creative” people look like? And the kinds of work they do?
Yeah, that’s exactly what’s holding you back from being creative yourself!
People regularly tell me that they aren’t creative. That they need to take care of business things and don’t have time for that kind of frivolity.
But creativity is how you get to not only enjoy your work every day, it’s also how you get to better work. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report predicts that creativity, innovation and ideation will be key skills. Long considered soft skills that are ‘nice to haves’, they now sit shoulder-to-shoulder in importance with analytical thinking and problem-solving.
So, how exactly do you build your creative muscle? Just like any other muscle, with consistent practice. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do some crazy, over-the-top thing that’s going to make you hang your head in shame. Beefing up your creativity can happen with consistent repetition through things like the following exercises.
Tap into your creativity every day with these exercises
- Change your daily routine. We all get in a rut, even if we don’t realize it. Change things up and watch your brain awaken.
- Keep a journal. Writing what runs through your mind on a regular basis is constant fodder for new ideas.
- Buy the tickets. I had a mentor tell me that whenever I’m in a slump, buy tickets. Tickets to concerts, art shows, Monster Mudder races, the county fair, an elementary school play, whatever. Buy the tickets and watch what happens.
- Doodle. Really, it’s not as hard as you think. And it can certainly be for your eyes only. The sheer act of moving your pencil (or pen) across paper to draw something without a goal in sight will bring you pure joy.
- Ditch the screens (especially your phone). When you physically narrow what you pay attention to, you mind follows suit. A narrow focus means narrow thinking.
- Say ‘yes’ more than ‘no’. Sometimes creativity shows up in disguise. Don’t assume you’ll always recognize it for what it is.
- Move your body. Research shows that physical movement forces you out of left-brain dominant thinking and helps you adopt more creative thinking. I know my workout log has oodles of notes scribbled in the margins. Yours?
- Build a creativity network. I know when I get in a slump, I have a pool of people to reach out to. I can truly depend on them to inject a shot of inspiration.
- Play. that’s right, the old-fashioned kid kind of play. Swing. Teeter totter. Hit the merry-go-round. It will take you back to the time in your life when you had nary a care in the world.
- Embrace Mother Nature. Just 25 minutes in a green space fuels imaginative thinking.
- Think like a…. (fill in the blank). This is one of my favorites. If you’re a corporate executive, think like a lion tamer. If you’re a teachers, think like a farmer. If you’re an engineer, think like a magician. Seriously, you’ll come up with all sorts of things you never dreamed of.
- Meet people you wouldn’t normally meet. Have lunch in a diner across town. Go to an event on a dare. Get curious about how other cultures celebrate holidays. Having just one thing in common is enough to help you strike up a conversation.
- Meditate. Just 15 minutes consistently (like, every day…) clears out jumbled thoughts and helps you observe and reflect.
- Make a list of the wackiest professions you can think of, like a professional sleeper, paper towel sniffer, stand-in-liner, water-slider tester, ostrich babysitter…
- Go to a bookstore or library (yes, with real, live, printed books) and browse through sections you’ve never been in.
- Carry a small notebook where you can record all of your random thoughts or observations. Don’t over think it, just jot things down that you find interesting.
- Zip it. We’re surrounding by noise all day long. Zoom meetings. Real-life conference rooms with people. Our phone. Email. Messaging notifications. Music. Kids. Traffic. The neighbor’s barking dog. Give your entire brain and body a break from all noises and sensations. You’ll be amazed at how it does a body (and brain!) good.
How about you, what things do you do to bring out your creative side? Share your experience in the comments below.
Carla is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author. Having lived, worked, and studied on five continents, she's partnered with top brands and conferences to train thousands of people how to rethink the work that they do and the impact they can have. Her visionary expertise has inspired and equipped leaders at all levels to embrace change, welcome new ideas, and transform their business.
Her work with Fortune 500 brands served as the foundation for many of her books. Her tenth, RE:Think Innovation, is a #1 new release that busts the myth that innovation is something that requires a specific degree or special training. In fact, Carla explains why, to be a successful company in today's hyper-competitive, customer-driven world, innovation must be everyone's business. Her goal is to teach one million people how to become innovators by 2025.
Consistently named one of the top influencers in B2B, digital and content marketing, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking. Today, she travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.