The word creativity often conjures up images of a prolific painter, a successful writer or an accomplished musician; and many view ‘being creative’ as a talent bestowed on a lucky few.
Fortunately, the ability to be creative is a skill – which means it’s something that any one of us can learn, hone and master.
So, what exactly is creativity?
Creativity is defined as the act of making something new.
While it often refers to typically artistic pursuits (painting, writing, playing music), it also relates to making unique connections between seemingly disparate ideas, coming up with new solutions to a problem, developing an innovative product, or finding better ways to communicate.
Being creative means imagining, experimenting, questioning and exploring!
We used to think that creativity was controlled by the right side of the brain. Through recent advances in neuroscience, however, scientists now understand that both sides of the brain work together during creative episodes, making countless connections and sending numerous signals between different networks.
Why is creativity important?
Essentially, creativity is a tool that can help make our lives easier and help us feel more fulfilled. It also helps us grow – being creative challenges our mind and develops our thinking. It allows us to make sense of the world around us, tap into that knowledge, and develop new ways of applying it.
Benefits of being more creative:
Increases brain plasticity
Reduces stress & anxiety
Provides a sense of purpose
Enhances problem-solving skills
Creativity in the workplace
It’s no surprise that creativity is rated as the most in-demand soft skill for professionals to master.
Why? As technology advances, more and more process-driven tasks are becoming obsolete. Looking to the future, fewer and fewer companies will hire people who can perform these types of repetitive tasks. Instead, they’ll seek those who can truly think outside the square; who, instead of problems, can see potential; and who, instead of challenges, can see an opportunity to create solutions.
If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that change is inevitable – being able to adapt to these unexpected shifts requires creative thinking.
5 ways to boost creativity
1. Create a schedule: Creativity is not something you either have or don’t have; it’s a skill that you need to develop. Just as you would for any other important commitment, you need to allocate regular time to practising it – be that putting a few hours aside each week to paint, brainstorming ideas for a new project on Tuesdays, or keeping a daily journal to jot down your thoughts.
2. Try something new: Stepping outside of your comfort zone will stretch your thinking – in doing something new, you’re putting your brain in an unfamiliar situation, which forces it to think differently, thereby increasing your creative capacity. Visit an art gallery or a science museum for unique inspiration; listen to music you wouldn’t normally choose; or read a book on a topic you know nothing about.
3. Dare to daydream: Allowing your mind to wander gives it a temporary break from reality (and the mundane) and activates your imagination. It also decreases stress and anxiety, which may hinder creative flow.
4. Act like a child: Kids are more creative than adults. They believe anything is possible, they say what they think, and they love to ask why! To boost your creativity, have fun, be curious, don’t overthink, and try to look at every situation as though it were new.
5. Look after yourself: You can’t expect your mind to be creative if you don’t look after your wellbeing. Eat well, get enough sleep, and practise regular self-care to help nurture your creativity.
What is creative block?
Sometimes, despite our best efforts to keep our creativity flowing, we simply hit a wall. A common phenomenon, ‘creative block’ is a state of mind characterised by an inability to find the inspiration we need to create and be productive. It can happen suddenly and can last for days, weeks, even months.
Telltale signs that your creativity might be blocked:
Feeling frustrated, stuck or overwhelmed
A lack of focus
A decrease in productive output
What causes creativity to be blocked?
One of the biggest triggers of creative block is mental, physical or emotional fatigue. For example, you might be frazzled because you’ve been working all hours to grow a business; you might be strung out because you’re juggling the demands of your career and your responsibilities at home; or perhaps life has thrown a curveball that’s tripped you up emotionally. If you’re exhausted,putting in creative effort will feel like climbing Mount Everest!
Other common causes of creative block include:
Fear of failure
If your creative spark has fizzled, don’t panic! It’s important not to let self-doubt or anxiety set in. Let go of the expectation to get it ‘right’ every time. Rather than dwell on your temporary lack of creativity, stop what you’re doing and move onto something else; change your routine or your environment; or take an extended break and focus on something different that brings you joy.
Today’s action steps
Pick a familiar object (e.g., a paper clip or a shoe) and write down five new ways in which it can be used. The shoe, for instance, can be used to squash a mosquito, or as a planter for a succulent. There’s no right or wrong answer; the idea is to flex your creativity muscle.
Visualise yourself doing an everyday task in a different way. For example, instead of hitting the gym to exercise, imagine yourself taking a dance class instead. How do you look? How do you feel? What do you hear and see? What do you learn? Give your imagination free reign.
During your lunch break, find a quiet space away from distraction, set a timer for 10 minutes, close your eyes and just let your mind wander.
Still feeling stuck or struggling to re-ignite your creative spark? At Hello Coach, our expert coaches can help you unlock your creativity, no matter your field or where you’re at in life.
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