It is hard to admit, but creative jobs and endeavours are few and far between. Most of us are stuck in a run-of-the-mill job, the classic 9 to 5 office position, trapped inside a gray cubicle, wishing, fantasizing and wanting to be somewhere or someone else. Even if some of us feel, deep down, that we possess a creative streak and have an overwhelming urge to express it, we are usually afraid to do so because in order to get the most out of your talent (whichever creative avenue you might choose), you need to be fully dedicated to developing it which could entail leaving the security of your job and heading into the unknown. Thomas Edison said once that “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration”. The same can be applied to developing creative talents too. So, to help you along the journey of discovering the full potential of your creativity, we have compiled a list of activities / advice that will do just that. The first advice is oddly enough….
1. Move Away From Your Computer
Yes, you read that right. As much as computers can be a wonderful source of information, they are stifling your creativity because they think for you and, in most cases, do the work for you. So, go to an environment that is free of electronic devices and let you mind wander. Choose the environment that suits you best. Sometimes, even the back garden will do the trick.
2. Stop Beating Yourself Up
Stop beating yourself because you haven’t started your quest for creativity earlier (in your 20s as opposed to your 40s), because you have sacrificed your journey to creativity for a cushy job, because you have put family, friends, relatives, whomever ahead of your own creative needs, because you didn’t muster enough courage to go through with your dream… It is really never too late to be who you might have been.
3. Carry a Notebook Wherever You Go
Jot down things that come to your mind and things that might boost your creative career. Ideas present themselves at most unusual and inopportune moments, even when you are asleep. Write everything down. Read through it often. Tie it in with your creative desires.
4. Make Mistakes / Allow Yourself to be Imperfect
How many things have your learned from doing something right or being perfect? Haven’t you learn the most by making mistakes? Mistakes are wonderful teachers. However, they are meant for learning not repeating. They also carry a huge potential for growth. They are stepping stones to learning.
5. Try Something New
Try something new, be it a new music genre, new food, new clothes, make new friends, move to a new place, have a new daily routine, new hairstyle, find a new gym, get yourself (dare we suggest it) a new girlfriend / boyfriend… If you do this, you will discover a sense of wonder that will boost your creativity in amazing ways. Don’t let your life become all about “could have, might have, should have”.
6. Cooperate With Likeminded Individuals And Those Who Are Not
The feedback that you get from the both will be exceptionally important. People are sources of information. Information is power and a very useful tool in reaching your creative goals. Widen the circle of your acquaintances. Sometimes you get the best (and the most useful) information from the people you least expect to.
7. Break The Rules
Think outside the box. The rules have not done it for you so far. If they had, you wouldn’t be in this position, i.e. wanting to get out of your stale routine and yearning for something new / creative. We are not suggesting that you get yourself in danger or in trouble with the law by breaking the society’s rules. Rather, the rules we are talking about are the ones that are self-imposed and limiting. You are your own judge and jury. You create or destroy your own reality. And please do not even think about doing something because “everybody is else is doing it”. You are not everybody else, and even if everybody else is doing it, it doesn’t automatically make it right for you.
8. Don’t Force It
A wise man said once: “Force is a crime.” Forcing certain events to happen because you are too impatient and you want it all now will just backfire. Trust us, it will! In the grand scheme of things, patience works wonders. Creativity withers under the influence of force. You need to allow things to happen in your life. Although this might sound as a worn out cliché, everything in life happens for a reason and has a purpose. So, if you have to fall, allow yourself to fall. And then pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on.
9. Clean Your Workspace
Whether you believe in Feng Shui or not, freeing your desk or your workspace (whatever and wherever that might be) from clutter will declutter your mind too. According to Feng Shui, clutter drains your energy, decreases the quality of your life, and dampens your intentions. Remember how you always feel energized and light when you clean up your home from top to bottom. Well, your mind will feel the same when you clean up your workspace. Guaranteed!
10. Get Plenty of Sleep / Take Care of your Health
Our body is a vessel for our brain which, in turn, is the centre of our creativity. If our body is rested and healthy, the brain will feel the benefits. Sufficient sleep is essential for every aspect of our being, including the creative one. The importance of sleep is rather obvious – it helps your brain to work properly, it increases your memory capacity, improves learning, helps you with making decisions, alleviates mood swings, flushes toxins out of your body, boosts your motivation, and helps your immune system. As for eating healthy and exercising, we don’t even need to elaborate on the benefits. You know them already!
11. Take Risks
Yes, taking risks is a frightening thing. The fear of the unknown can be all-consuming. The fear of failure could be paralyzing. But you never know what is on the other side and what awaits you if you don’t take risks. The chances are that you will be pleasantly surprised by the outcome of taking a risk and that taking risks could be a proverbial spring board that will launch you towards even better and greater things. You will never know if you don’t try it.
12. Be Grateful
Be thankful for what you already have. In your mind that might not be a lot, but even that little means something. Be grateful for your good health, for the opportunities that have presented themselves, for the freedom you have acquired, for the help you get along your creative journey, for everything you have achieved so far… Be thankful for the most basic thing there is – life itself.
13. Practice, Practice, Practice
We are just going to remind you of the aforementioned Thomas Edison’s quote. You know, the one about “one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration”. Having a great idea and not acting upon it is like having a great car but never driving it. What’s the use?! Do you want to make things happen or you are just content of dreaming about what might happen? Do the work! Perspire! Working towards your creative goal sets things in motion. Just contemplating / dreaming / fantasizing about it won’t do much. You need to dedicate yourself to your creativity.
14. Make To-Do Lists
Please don’t roll your eyes and say that this doesn’t work for you. Although creativity is a free-flowing thing that is contrary to rigid structure and organization, organize yourself you must. Your activities towards achieving your creative goals cannot be scattered and unorganized. The bottom line is to make REALISTIC to-do-lists! Do not put 52 items on them every day, and then wonder how come you managed to do only 5. Realistic is the operative word here.
15. Stop Procrastinating
There isn’t a more efficient and deadly thief of time than procrastination. There is a quote that goes: “Do you know what happens when you give a procrastinator a good idea? Nothing!” Procrastination equals missed opportunities. And opportunities are something that you cannot afford to miss. Just begin doing whatever you have been planning on doing. Do it! Not tomorrow, not in 15 minutes, not on Monday. Now!
16. Don’t Give Up
We cannot stress enough the importance of this rule. Yes, life will get tough. Yes, you will wonder many times whether embarking on your creative journey was a good idea. Yes, you will feel the urge to toss it all in the air and exclaim “What’s the point!”. Yes, you might be even tempted to go back to your old, menial, soul-destroying job. But don’t…. Unless you are extremely clairvoyant and know for sure that your creative endeavours will end up in failure and heartbreak, don’t give up. Just when the caterpillar thinks life is over, it becomes a butterfly.
17. Create a Framework
In order to achieve your creative goals, you need to set up a certain timeframe for achieving them. Although we did urge you to just relax and allow things to happen, having a timeframe is essential. We don’t want to get too technical about accomplishing goals, but there is a golden rule that you should consider. Your goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. For instance, your general goal might be “get my book published”, but your specific goal is “write ten pages every day” or “call two publishers a week.”
18. Get Feedback
Ask people who are creative or possess great knowledge in your field of creativity to tell you what they think of your creative work. Insist that they speak openly and accept constructive criticism. Ask what they would do differently and what their next steps would be if there were you. Make your questions clear, specific and to the point. Ask for additional clarification if you didn’t understand them the first time around. And don’t forget to thank them for their input.
19. Have Fun
Remember, you are supposed to enjoy your quest for creativity. It should not feel like a chore, an obligation or pressure. Your creative journey is supposed to be fun, and you are supposed to be looking forward to each new step on this path. If this is missing, readjust your thinking and ask yourself what you are doing wrong. Which part of your creative endeavour is weighing you down and how can you make it more enjoyable? Confucius said the best: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
20. Know Yourself
Get to really know yourself. Re-introduce yourself to yourself. Discover who you really are and what makes you tick. Discard whatever has been holding your back and embrace what propels you forward. Accept your flaws and celebrate your virtues. Find your niche, that one creative outlet that suits you the best, and make it your own. Strive for originality, but not at the expense of the true you.
21. Finish What You Started
Stopping in the middle of your creative adventure is sometimes tantamount to not embarking on it at all. Why spend all this time, energy, resources and feelings if you not going to finish what you started? They say that starting something new in life is like falling in love. It is an exciting, stimulating and novel experience. But, sooner or later, novelty can wear off and you can get disheartened. Eventually, you give up and vow to yourself that you are never going to be that silly and start something that you don’t have the drive to finish. If that is the case, maybe you were not properly connected to your end vision in the first place, maybe you have not tracked your progress enough or you haven’t fully committed to accomplishing your goals. Find the reasons for your lack of drive to finish off what you have started, take the bull by its horns and make it worthwhile.
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