7 Ways To Unlock Your Creative Potential
Everybody is creative!
And cue the yawns and eye rolls. Yup, heard that one before.
It’s a statement usually said by a “creative” person to a “non-creative” person to make them feel better about their conventional and boring lives. And I agree with you the statement has been beat over the head. You always hear “everybody is creative”, but no one ever talks about how.
Until today that is.
Myths About Being Creative
Let’s clear some things up. First, being creative does not mean you have to “be an artist”.
My fiance is an Internet Technology Manager and spends most of his day on the computer programming, tasking out assignments, and managing various team projects. Now, just reading that sentence probably makes you think his job is a little dull and doesn’t allow for even an ounce of creativity. But in reality, he’s flexing his creative muscle all day by problem-solving and thinking of innovative ways to implement features on a website. And the problem-solving skills and innovative thinking he’s developed at work expands into other areas of his life.
Not many people know that he loves cooking, and while he may not be a Michelin star chef, you can see the creative spark in his eye as he problem-solves and thinks about how to create the night’s dinner. It is absolutely fascinating to watch him – especially in our tiny kitchen.
Now this isn’t channeling creativity in the traditional sense such as writing, painting, or photography. But everything from the flavors he pairs together to his plate presentation is, in it’s own way, a work of art because it’s an expression of him. And being creative is, first and foremost, about expressing yourself. So, right here, right now, I want you to stop thinking you must “be an artist” to be creative. If you continue to buy into this limited definition you prevent yourself from appreciating your own creative potential.
Unlocking Your Potential
A question we’re always faced with when it comes to creativity is “How creative are you?” But if being creative is simply about expressing yourself, this question is a bit out of touch and makes it seem like there is a certain level you must reach in order to be considered ‘truly creative’. It forces you to compare your ability to create against others around you.
Let me clear the air and say – self expression is not a race. So instead of asking “How creative are you?” lets flip it a bit and ask “How are you creative?” Or, how do you express yourself?
Ahhh, that feels better. Self-expression is rarely a one-step deal. The #1 trick to learning how you express yourself? Figure out how you solve problems.
We are faced with problems every single day. Most of them are simple enough that we figure them out while on auto-pilot – what do I wear today, what should I eat for breakfast, how will I get to work etc. But they’re all problems to solve and the way we solve them is a direct expression of ourselves.
Let’s look at how you solve the problem of what to wear for the day: Do you methodically pair that top with that bottom? Do you search for inspiration? Do you base your decision on colors? Or do you simply gravitate to whatever feels good? Either way, your creative juices are flowing from the moment you take a look in your closet.
What about how you get to work every morning? Most of us usually take the same way every day, it’s a decision we put on auto-pilot. Ever have a day when something changes like a bus is delayed or there’s construction blocking the street and you have to figure out a new route? That nervous excitement you start feeling as you try to solve the problem of how am I going to get to work – that’s your creative mojo bubbling beneath the surface, getting ready to help you take action.
So, how can you unlock your creative mojo and start cultivating your ability to be innovative whenever you want?
Oh, the magical power of pen to paper. Ideas, thoughts, wondrous explorations all floating in your mind looking for a place to come alive. There are no how-to’s when it comes to journaling, no template to follow. However if you are someone who likes a little guidance you could try stream of conscious journaling, recording your dreams, or morning writing prompts.
Meditation is one of the best ways to unlock your creative potential as it helps open you up to new thoughts and ideas that may be buried beneath everyday to-do’s we believe to be more pressing. I try to meditate every morning before sitting down to write, as it helps clear my mind and lets my ideas flow freely.
Who doesn’t love sleep? It’s good for your mind, body, and can help you with a thorny problem. Studies have shown REM sleep enhances your creative problem solving, so if you think about an issue you’re having before bed, you may have your answer by dawn.
4. Be Open
Stop dismissing ideas that come your way and making snap judgements. Appreciate the idea, explore it; even ones that may seem “stupid” or “obvious”. This encourages more creative thinking and can eventually lead you to the answer you’re looking for.
5. Be Curious
This ties into being open, practice looking for alternatives by asking yourself how to do something differently. When seeing a solution, ask yourself “What are some alternative ways of doing this?”. Again, don’t make snap judgements, instead try developing a mental attitude that “there is always another way” even if the alternative seems impossible.
6. Be Present
“In the moment”, “in the zone”, “clear and focused”, whatever you want to call it – be aware of what you’re doing. You can practice being present by giving your full attention to your daily activities: eating, making the bed, brushing your teeth, etc. Meditation also helps tremendously with this.
7. Disrupt The Daily Grid
We discussed this briefly before, you can jolt your brain out of auto-pilot and start cooking up some creative thinking simply by stepping out of your daily routine. Dance to your favorite tunes while brushing your teeth, take a new route into work, try a new spot for lunch, order a different type of latte for your afternoon pick me up. Tiny changes can make a huge difference in your sense of creativity.
NEVER FORGET HOW YOU ARE CREATIVE
Being creative is not a destination. It isn’t a label you earn or a promotion you work towards for 5 years. Thinking this way suggests creativity is a force separate from you, when in reality creativity is you.
We all lead busy lives and the busier we become the more self-expression and self-care get pushed to the back seat. You don’t have to put aside a whole weekend to pursue your creative desires. There are thousands of little acts you can employ throughout a single day that can light up your creativity match and be an expression of you.
You are creative. Never forget that.
*All imagery taken from the Studio DIY Instagram account, one of our favorite creatives!
About The Author: Ashlei is the creative director of Kinks are the New Pink, a lifestyle blog dedicated to inspiring & guiding women to style life their own way. To her, style is more than how you dress, do your hair, or decorate your apartment – it’s about how you relate and create in every area of life. In her spare time she enjoys diving into a variety of passions including writing, reading, eating (preferably with a glass of wine or tumbler of bourbon), traveling, and working on her photography skills. She’s a soon-to-be Mrs. and resides in Chicago with her fiance, DCT, and 3 (yes, 3) cats.