It isn’t always easy to think about how to be creative, but what’s important to remember is that all of us (yes, even you) have the ability to be creative; we just need to find ways to unleash that creative energy. As Business New Daily tells it, according to Tina Seelig, the executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, which is the entrepreneurship center at Stanford University School of Engineering, “we are all naturally creative and, like every other skill, some people have more natural talent than others. However, everyone can increase his or her creativity, just as everyone can increase his or her musical or athletic ability, with appropriate training and focused practice.”
Bottom line: creativity is not a talent or a gift that some people are born with, it is a skill that anyone can learn if they are willing to put in the work. But where do you begin? It can seem like a daunting task, but you need to be willing to get out of your comfort zone and put in the time—creativity isn’t achieved overnight; it might take time and work, but with the right techniques you too will be able to generate innovative ideas that can enhance your career, your perspective and your life. Here are 10 tips to help you unhinge your creative energy.
1. Take a break
If you’re having a hard time coming up with any creative solutions to a problem, sometimes you need to give yourself a break to unwind and unplug. When you stop over-thinking your brain can function in a more relaxed way and that’s when your best ideas will surface. If you’ve ever had a great idea in the shower that’s probably why—you’re more relaxed, so your creative juices can flow freely without the stress you experience as you try to force a good idea.
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2. Get Outside and Get Moving
Exercise can do more than just trigger endorphins and improve your physical fitness. Moving your body can also clear your mind and improve your ability to generate fresh ideas. A recent study found that “regular exercise seems to be associated with improved divergent and convergent thinking, which are considered the two components of creative thinking; the former involves thinking of multiple solutions for one problem, while the latter involves thinking of one solution for a problem.”
When it comes to thinking about how to be creative, consider that quieting your mind might be just what you need to make room for new thoughts and ideas. Take a few moments to sit back, focus on your breath, inhale good intentions for your day and exhale the negativity that might hold you back.
4. Listen to Music
Listening to music has been shown to encourage brain activity and creativity, so if you’re ever struggling to solve a problem, try cranking up the tunes. Think about it…some songs pump you up, some make you emotional, some help you escape reality, some make you want to dance and some calm you down. If you’re ever in a rut, pick a song that just might shift your mood and your mentality in the direction you hope to go.
5. There Are No Bad Ideas
Don’t be afraid to look stupid or make a mistake. Some of the most creative ideas and inventions have been accomplished after a series of really bad attempts, so you need to be willing to put yourself out there, mess up, make some silly suggestions and move on. There is no such thing as a bad idea if it helps get you to where you want to go.
Back in school doodling while your teachers were talking wasn’t exactly encouraged, but more recently experts have found that doodling can actually help jumpstart creative thinking. As Inc. Magazine reports, according to Larry Kim, founder and CTO of WordStream and contributor to Inc., “doodling can enhance recall and activate unique neurological pathways, leading to new insights and cognitive breakthroughs.”
7. Be a Kid Again
Be silly! When you were young and carefree you engaged in all sorts of creative, imaginative play and never had to work so hard to achieve that sense of freedom. Go back to that mindset and allow yourself to let loose, to act a little ridiculous, to giggle and to explore. You just mind find that you never lost your sense of creativity; it’s simply been trapped behind the stress of everyday adult responsibilities.
8. Try Something New
Whenever you’re stuck in a routine that isn’t bringing out your most creative self, break out of your comfort zone and try something new. Maybe it’s a new fitness class at your gym, a new restaurant or cuisine, a new book, or a vacation to a new city. It doesn’t really matter what the activity is, as long as it’s a new and fresh experience, in hopes of achieving a fresh perspective.
9. Change Your Environment
Sometimes you need to pick up and move to a new setting if you want to come up with new ideas. Ditch your desk and spend some time at a local coffee shop. Watching the people might motivate you to think differently. Or work outside and let nature inspire your thoughts. You can also reorganize your office so that you have a different view, it just might help you view everything in a new light.
10. Collaborate and Ask for Input
Last but not least, don’t expect to achieve your maximum level of creativity on your own. Sometimes we work best when we have a group of other people wit their own skills and strengths to bounce ideas off of. Gather friends, colleagues and mentors and collaborate until you have a breakthrough. Everyone has something to offer, and seeing how others think and work can open your eyes to new ways of doing things.