IBM recently performed a study that concluded 60% of CEO’s (based on an extensive poll) think creativity is the most important quality for someone in a leadership position; for comparison 52% voted for integrity and 35% voted for global thinking, but creativity took the majority.
Creativity isn’t a quality that’s reserved for those in more artistic fields of work, in fact, any job out there will require some level of creativity from its workers, it just normally takes the form of problem solving. More times than not, it can become easy to get run down by the many trials and tribulations the modern world throws at us, and regardless of what you do, we all can relate to the feeling of being creatively blocked. This internal struggle can make even the simplest of tasks seem like the most daunting, however, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to kick start the innovative parts of our brain that feel like they aren’t working.
One of the most common reasons that one would find themselves in a creative rut is because they feel trapped in a cycle of waking up and performing their everyday duties to live, instead of getting up and simply living. In a traditional work environment, it can become easy to feel stuck in a redundant cycle of routines, so the best way to combat that is by breaking said routine and trying something completely different.
When we try new things, we’re expanding our own versions of reality and our previous perceptions of life by adding new experiences to it. For example, if you’ve never liked Chinese food to the point that you haven’t had it in years, change your own personal narrative and go try it again. Maybe you’ll have the same results, but maybe you won’t, and you’ll find that kung pao chicken is actually amazing and therefore, a new reality is born, one in which you actually kind of like Chinese food.
While that example is more so entertaining than it is relatable in relation to career creativity, the concepts are exactly the same. First, ask yourself if your creative rut has more to do with a desire for more, or a discontent with certain aspects of your life in its current reality. If your version of kung pao chicken is a new job working at a fancy magazine that you previously could have never seen yourself at, maybe it’s time to get back into the playing field and try again.
However, it’s important to note that more entertaining changes in life, such as trying new foods, is just as important in terms of overall creativity because it shows you that trying new things, and branching out your experiences, isn’t as scary as you might think.
Not sure where to start still? Look no further than where your mind wanders when you daydream. Throughout life, we’re often taught that daydreaming is the exact opposite of productivity, however, why can’t one help benefit the other? In a study performed by the Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers found that when subjects were given a specific task to work out, and a solid break just to daydream about possible solutions, the daydreaming period allowed for them to figure out the task at hand much more creatively and easily.
If you’re daydreaming though, you need to learn how to take your innovative ideas from the inside, to the outside. The easiest way to do this is to start simply, and write it all down. No matter how simple, fantastical, ridiculous, or “stupid” you may think an idea is, write it down; at first they may not help with your current situation, and maybe they won’t ever, but you never know when that idea will come in handy.
Being able to visualize your ideas written out in front of you will boost your creative thinking skills and ability to perform stream-of-conscious thinking. This type of thinking trains your brain to keep coming up with new ideas, but also helps you figure out what methods of problem solving work best for you.
“When you give yourself frequent permission to explore the ‘adjacent possible’ with no restrictions on where it leads, you increase the likelihood of a creative breakthrough in all areas of your life and work. So, what are you waiting for? Get out that notepad and start training your brain to be more creative,” says Todd Henry, who helped write the book, Manage Your Day-to-Day.
Finally, surround yourself with other creative individuals to help pull you out of these ruts. Having open-minds and new ideas – that come from outside parties who you trust – around you allows for the more inventive parts of your brain to be working more frequently.
Remember, you are in control of your own life, and your own creativity. Whatever ideas you have, are worth something, so never let them disappear because someone else told you they aren’t good enough or because you’re standing in the way of your own potential. Embrace it, and make a change, you never know what could come of it.