How to Use Creativity as a Powerful Tool in Life and Business
Hey you! Yes, you dear reader! Did you know that you ARE actually creative even if you don’t believe you are?
I believe we are all creative – by the very nature of being human.
Elizabeth Gilbert agrees, “If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.”
If you’re someone who doesn’t think you’re creative, I’m glad you’re here.
I’m going to share with you why I believe you actually are creative and how I believe you can use creativity to benefit your life and your business.
1 | Defining Creativity
Let’s first look at how dictionaries define creativity:
The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc —Dictionary.com
The ability to make new things or think of new ideas. —Merriam-Webster.com
The use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness. —English Oxford Dictionary
You may be thinking, what about the saying “There’s no such thing as new thoughts, every idea has already been taken” or the one that goes “There are no new ideas under the sun.”
Those sayings have been around for years. And you could certainly take that perspective as your own but I believe you are limiting yourself if you do.
As humans, each having our own unique human existence, we develop our own unique perspective, that’s been made up of our entire lives’ worth of experiences.
No one else thinks of exactly the same things you do in exactly the same way – because no one has had the exact same experiences you have. So while there is definitely lots of overlap and at times it can feel like you don’t have anything original inside you, there are other times when you do think of original, unique solutions to projects, problems and situations.
2 | Redefine Creativity
We can benefit from a more expansive view of creativity. In researching this post, I came across a terrific article that introduced me to the concept of Practical Creativity. (The concept reminds me of practical magic (not the movie, although, I do love it too, but the idea.) I think we all could use a bit more practical magic in our lives but that’s a topic for another day.
Back to practical creativity and its definition:
“The ability to connect the seemingly unconnected and meld existing knowledge into new insight about some element of how the world works. That's practical creativity.”—Maria Popova
I love this so much and feel like it makes the concept of creativity feel so much more accessible for people who doubt they are creative. Building off what Maria describes as practical creativity, I’d add:
It’s the ability to take your unique-to-you life experiences to connect the seemingly unconnected, melding existing knowledge into new insight. The result of all your diverse experiences leading you to an answer only you could come up with.
With this new expanded concept of practical creativity, let’s look at how we can use it!
Creativity in action! Not only are the images each examples of ways to be creative (painting, taking photos, collecting objects) but they are also creatively curated. How do you think they all tie together?
3 | Ways to Use Creativity in Day to Day Life
This is where a spot of mindfulness comes in handy as well as the ability to let go of perfection. As we are all unique individuals, incorporating creativity into our lives is limitless. Finding what works for you will involve spending a few moments thinking about ways you may already be creative in your life, what feels achievable for you and allowing yourself the freedom to explore. Creativity is easiest to feel in areas you’re passionate about.
What are a few areas of your life you feel passionate about?
For me, I love to paint, take photographs, spend time in nature, cook and dress in clothes that feel like they precisely express my sense of style.
Being willing to spend time painting and explore what even a “bad” painting has to teach me, leads to improved painting experiences going forward.
Slowing down enough to stop and take in my surroundings with all my senses, especially when I’m outdoors, in nature, allows me to see things in a way I wouldn’t if I was mindlessly walking along. Taking photographs not only allows me to enjoy what I found interesting but I also like to use the photographs as inspiration for painting. Since I love abstract, mixed media paintings, I’ll often use the colors in photographs as inspiration or the shapes of things, like lines within a rock.
While cooking, I like to think about any other ingredient I have in my kitchen that might enhance the original recipe I’m making. Recently, in a happy accident, I bought roasted flax seeds instead of raw flax seeds. [Sidenote: I can firmly say that roasted flax seeds do not work in smoothies but since I have a whole bag of them, I’ve found lots of ways to use that bag up and continually come up with different ideas. I can firmly say that roasted flax seeds add a really yummy umami punch to scrambled eggs and spinach with avocado.]
Ever since I was little, I’ve had a strong desire to love the clothes I wear. I’m not into designer fashion or fast fashion but over the years, I’ve definitely developed a sense of personal style. I like to think that as I’ve collected items of clothing over the years, my wardrobe has become a creative and unique representation of my style sense. Jewelry is my favorite way to add a little extra dose of creativity and uniqueness into my outfits.
Now it’s your turn! I hope the list above sparks some ideas for how you can get creative in your life.
4 | Ways to Use Creativity in Business
Let’s now look at how to use creativity in business. I believe that allowing yourself to be creative in your personal life is a great way to keep your creative juices flowing so that it’s easier to feel creative at work.
Pressure and the stress of work can be intense, that’s a given. How we react to the pressure and stress can either be fuel for creativity or deflate it. This is why I think it’s important to keep your personal creative fire burning. We tend to have a bit more control over our personal lives than we do our work lives. If you are out of creative practice and then all of a sudden you need to come up with a creative solution to a problem, and you’re already under pressure to solve it, that's a lot of additional pressure you don't really need.
If you find yourself in the putting-out-fires situation, I have a few ideas for how to access your creativity:
Step away from your computer for a few moments. Go outside if you can. Take a brief walk. Changing your surroundings can help you unplug from the pressure/stress and allow your thoughts to flow more freely. This is key to accessing your creativity under stress.
Chew a piece of gum. “Mindlessly” chewing away on a minty fresh piece of gum can also give your mind something to do so you can gain access to your creativity.
Doodle. It doesn’t have to be fancy or pretty or professional, just let your fingers draw some lines, some curves, dashes, dots, color them in or leave them empty. Or get fancy with an adult coloring book and some fun colored pens for a bit – if you have them nearby.
Allowing your mind to focus on something that doesn’t require a lot of brain power can calm your nerves, lower your stress levels and allow you to reset. Which is often exactly what we need in order to access our creativity and get the ideas flowing.
If you’d like to incorporate creativity into your business week on a more consistent basis, here are some ideas:
Schedule it in. Yep, schedule it just like it’s an important meeting that’s been in your book for some time. Even if you can only afford 5 minutes. I find that unless I schedule an activity into my week, it likely won’t happen on a regular basis.
Things to do during your designated creative time could be some of the items from the lists above, doodling, adult coloring books, painting, drawing, collaging with magazine images and words. You could give yourself assignments like, get up, go outside and take photos of anything blue that catches your eye – changing up the photo subjects each time; look around the room you’re in and try to notice something you’ve never noticed before.
Lastly, my favorite way to experience creative thoughts is in the shower. I tend to have the best ideas in the shower and have heard other people say the same. While my mind is distracted on the physical act of taking a shower, I’m relaxed enough to allow the good ideas to download effortlessly.
Anything you can think of that will give your mind something to focus on while allowing you to relax a bit will work.
Think again about your interests. Is there anything you could incorporate as a creativity break in your day?
5 | Additional Resources
In case you’re looking for additional inspiration or motivation, here are a few resources you might like:
When you need a dose of encouragement
If you’d like to expand your thinking even more on how to define creativity for yourself
Proof that there’s a lot of practical creativity going on in the universe (and so many interesting articles to read).
In the mood for a great book that will inspire your creativity?
(No affiliate links are used in this post)
If you have been someone who does not consider themselves creative, I hope I’ve introduced you to a new way of thinking about creativity. The tools and tips I’ve included have all come in useful to me in my career as a graphic designer and business owner, where every day I get to come up with creative ideas for my clients as well as for my own life and business.