No matter your job, creativity matters. Creativity is your imagination expressed in words, in presentations or in any new thing you create. And everyone has creativity. But sometimes you can fall into a rut and lose sight of all the inventiveness you possess. Have no fear. These 5 strategies can help you unlock the full spectrum of your creative potential.
1. Reject perfectionism
Perfectionism paralyzes. When trying to accomplish any creative feat, aiming for perfection will halt all action and stifle your creativity. The key to letting your creativity flow is to allow yourself to get messy and experiment. In those moments new ideas flow and the skeleton of your creation will form. Imagine yourself as the sculptor with a lump of clay. Remind yourself that you can make mistakes and correct them along the way. And sometimes, beauty comes from those very mistakes. But if you never start molding the clay, then you’ll just end up with the same lump of clay you started with.
2. Shut out the critics
You’re about to start a new project and you’re excited. But then, your critics show up. They usually show up as those small voices in the back of your head telling you that you’re not good enough, that you lack talent, that you’re moments away from being found out as a fraud. If you listen to them, they will hold you back. In her seminal book about writing, Bird by Bird, bestselling author Anne Lamott advises the reader to isolate each critic and imagine them speaking as a mouse. One by one, place each critic-mouse in a mason jar. Turn up the volume on their mousey-voiced criticism, and then turn the volume all the way down. Once they’re muted, get to work.
In addition to shutting out the noise of our critics, it’s crucial that we shut out the noise of the outer world and look deep within. So turn off your phone, mute that social media clamor and listen to yourself. If you’re new to meditating, start with the basics: go to a quiet room, sit still and pay attention to your breathing. Doing this for even a few minutes a day helps you quiet your mind and create space for fresh ideas.
4. Access your deepest human emotions and share them
What often holds us back from our full creative potential is fear. Fear of rejection and the shame that comes with that. But when we acknowledge that fear and set it aside, we make space for the wonder and beauty of creativity to unleash itself. In order to do that, we must be vulnerable by accessing and sharing our deepest human emotions, says Grammy-nominated musician Peter Himmelman. At a presentation at Chicago Ideas Week, Himmelman taught his audience how to do this. He instructed them to turn on their cell phones and spend one minute and 45 seconds composing a message to someone they love, telling them how they feel about them. After time was up, he told them to hit send. Ruth Blatt, a writer for Psychology Today who attended Himmelman’s talk writes, “The act of expressing our emotions and vulnerability freed us from the fear of shame and abandonment…And it was exhilarating.”
5. Have fun
When working on any project, ask yourself at different points along the way, “Am I having fun?” If the answer is no, ask, “What would make this fun?” Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a walk and or working in a different environment, like a nice coffee shop. Maybe you’re working solo and you’d have more fun bringing a creative buddy into the mix. Take some time to enjoy the work of those you admire; they may inspire you in your own project.
Remember that you possess creativity, ideas and perspectives that are uniquely your own. Take time to quiet your life, make space for those ideas to take shape, set aside fear, express your deepest emotions and have a blast doing it.
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