Would you consider yourself a creative person?
If you’re not an artist, don’t enjoy DIY projects, or are not one to brainstorm Pinterest-worthy crafts for your kids, you may be tempted to say “No, I’m definitely NOT creative.”
What if I told you that we are all, in some way, creative at our very core? Some of us may use this skill more than others, but the good news is that our creativity isn’t defined at birth like our eye color. It’s a characteristic that can be learned and a muscle that can be strengthened.
There are many ways that we can practice and develop creativity. In my experience as both a wedding planner and a coach for creative entrepreneurs, I’ve found that it’s helpful to start with an understanding of the core elements of creativity. After all, creativity is far more than brainstorming new ideas or your skill in design.
There are six key components of creativity, and each builds upon the next:
I’ll touch on all of these in future articles, but let’s start with curiosity, because it is the basis of all creative endeavors.
It’s impossible to create without curiosity. Albert Einstein, known for his brilliant mind and contributions to theoretical physics, was nothing if not creative. And his secret was curiosity.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning,” he once wrote. “Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
Practicing curiosity can start with one little question: What if?
And this question can pay huge dividends in your personal and professional life. If you get this question a lot from your kids, I know can be hard to see how it applies to your world. You may be used to hearing, “What if you put rainbow sprinkles and chocolate chips in my cereal? What if I skipped school and you took me to Disney World instead!?”
Kids are good at dreaming big dreams and imagining new outcomes. And it’s time to re-connect with that curious child and creative dreamer that is in you, and to infuse your career and responsibilities with that creativity.
Start by looking at your calendar and to-do list through the lens of curiosity. Block out two hours just for personal reflection – no texts, no social media. Make this a date for and with yourself; don’t forget the bubbly, sangria on the deck, steaming hot coffee or tea – whatever makes it special for you. Make a list of all the hats you wear as a professional, family member and friend.
Then, identify all of your roles, commitments, tasks and obligations. Don’t forget to include caring for yourself physically, mentally, relationally and even spiritually.
This is where you practice creativity and curiosity. Run down those roles and commitments and ask yourself, what if I could change this?
Can you take the red pen to your list and identify the things you can delete altogether? Could you empower someone else by hiring them to walk the dog, mow the lawn, or buy and deliver groceries?
By removing that commitment or delegating responsibilities, you are finding “new” time and energy available for your own use. Maybe it’s the time you need to think deeply and strategically at work, which would allow you to develop that recommendation or initiative and continue to grow your career. Or maybe you could use that whitespace to reconnect with friends and spend more time with your family. Maybe you’ll take a new course or a real vacation – one on which you actually unplug.
This is creative living. Creativity is not defined by beautiful products or innovative ideas. It’s about your willingness to ask questions, re-evaluate what you are doing, and imagine how to get to where you want to be.
What’s waiting for you?