Creativity is an admirable trait, and in almost every profession a bit of it will go a long ways. It’s unfortunate then that some people consider themselves to be uncreative. While it’s true that some people are born more creative than others, everyone has the potential to express their own unique creativity, whether that’s at home or in the workplace. In fact, unlocking your creativity is easier than you imagine. The following five tips will help you to hack your brain, change your thinking, and get you started on the creative path.
1. Be Prolific
Sometimes creativity is assumed to be the domain of only the artistic, who have wild outpourings of creative expression which result in years of stellar performance. This is rarely the case. If you look at the work of creative people, one of the first things you’ll notice is they produce a lot.
A great example is Picasso. If you’re not familiar with his story, you might not know that he produced close to 50,000 pieces of work. Thousands of his creations were no good at all, but producing such a large amount gave Picasso the chance to stumble upon the masterpieces that we love today.
You can internalize this lesson into your own life. It’s always better to begin working, rather than spending minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years waiting for a burst of inspiration. Don’t be afraid to produce something that you’re not proud of. The more you work, the more inspiration you’ll find, and the more creative you’ll become.
2. Feed on Good Influences
To function at a high level your body requires the best foods, filled with macro and micro-nutrients. The same is true of your brain. If you want to produce the highest quality, most creative work, you need to be filling your brain with inspiring ideas and content.
Read classics, go to the art gallery, or listen to uplifting music. Creativity is a universal truth and it crosses over many fields. For example, a writer may find inspiration for a story from a song that he’s just listened to. A painter may find the tools he needs to be creative in a film that he’s just seen. The more quality content you feed your brain, the easier you’ll find it to be creative in your own field.
3. Study Someone You Admire
A common problem associated with being creative is a crushing feeling, a feeling of inadequacy that surfaces before we even start creating. This is your brain’s way of tricking you into maintaining the status quo. Change is dangerous, our brain says, and it takes momentum to overcome this. One way to start building that momentum is to learn about the life of a creative person whom you admire.
Once you dig into their past, you’ll probably find out that when they started, most of what they made wasn’t very good. They may have had some natural talent in their field, but their stories, songs, or sculptures were not nearly good enough to warrant recognition. They may not have even been creative! Instead, vaguely similar to everything else produced at the time. It probably took this person years to find their own voice, and to be truly creative.
The lesson? Everyone starts out small. It’s through consistent work that they achieve their full creative potential. Apply this lesson to your own creativity. Accept that what you produce at first may not shine. However, if you keep it up, in the years to come you’ll get better. That’s when the wonderful bouts of surprisingly unique creativity will begin.
4. Find a Creative Outlet at the Office
Every job, no matter how seemingly mundane, has the option for you to exercise your own brand of creativity. These opportunities may not be obvious, but if you look hard enough for them you’ll find them. In some situations, creativity can be as simple as finding your own way to perform a certain task. Other times it may be worth taking on extra responsibility, so that you have sole control over a project and you can be as creative with it as you’d like to.
As you begin to become more creative at work, the people around you are likely to notice. This can help you to stand out and build a name for yourself. The more you contribute, the more you’ll be in demand. This is a topic Seth Godin addresses methodically in his book: Linchpin.
5. Open Yourself Up to the New
Creative people tend to also be open to new thoughts, ideas, and ways of doing things. They realize that the world is huge, there are millions of different points of views, and that being closed off to further thought is rarely the right answer. It’s impossible to always know where you’re going to find creativity. It can come from any number of sources, but if you’re not open to receiving it, you’ll never get to experience that potential positive influence.
One of the best ways to gain new experience, and unlock new content to power your creativity, is to travel. You’ll get to see new, unique places, and also become acquainted with a new culture. That can have a powerful influence on how you view the world, and when you come back home, you’ll have a new appreciation for your own lifestyle and culture.
More than anything else, the ability to be creative comes down to your own dedication to achieving that goal. If you’ve decided that you’d like to be more creative at work and at your home, you’ve taken the crucial first step. Now you just need to take the time to back that up with action. It can be difficult to overcome your brain’s natural resistance to change, but the rewards are well worth it. Remember, be prolific. Don’t be afraid to fail, instead focus on success as it happens. Creativity is a muscle, and like any other muscle it can be strengthened.