10 Ways to Develop Your Creative Abilities in the New Year
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach | Stress Management Coaching
We all admire those who are creative. At least I know I do.
Sadly, I grew up thinking that I wasn't creative at all. And compared to my siblings, I wasn't.
My sister could draw beautifully from a young age, while I had trouble drawing stick people.
My brother was both artistic and musical. In fact, he still draws and paints. As a teenager, he taught himself how to play three musical instruments. Heck, he even writes his own lyrics and composes his own CDs! He has given everyone in the family multiple paintings and musical CDs over the years.
Why buy gifts when you can create them, right?
On the other hand, I cannot draw at all, and I am not musically talented, despite ten years of piano lessons.
I do like to write, but not fiction. I used to long to become an op-ed writer for the newspaper. I thought I might be good at that.
Alas, I settled for writing letters to the editor and never pursued that line of work. I never figured out how one could become an op-ed writer. But Maureen Dowd was one of my idols, not because of her opinions but because she was a respected op-ed writer for the New York Times.
As I have grown older, I realize, of course, that I do have a creative streak. It just isn't in the typical areas that people think of first. Perhaps more importantly, however, I can appreciate those who are creative in their own right.
We all have some creative spark. It's what makes us human beings, after all.
Educator, author, and speaker Sir Ken Robinson often argued that schools killed creativity in children. Ask any four-year-old if he or she is creative, and the answer will be an instant and enthusiastic "Of course!" Ask any 40-year-old the same question, and you are likely to get a very different answer.
Unfortunately, we tend to downplay our own individual creativity, but most of us can appreciate creativity in others when we see it. That's why people go to museums and art galleries. We enjoy rock concerts and symphonies. We appreciate the poetry of ballet and we can enjoy watching couples compete in dancing contests from ballroom to Carolina shag.
I love going to the theater, and I appreciate those who can entertain others with their acting skills, their musical talents, or their ability to make us laugh.
Creativity can be nurtured and developed. And the best way to do that is through practice. The more you do something by practicing a particular skill or ability, the better you become at it.
And did you know that nurturing your creative muscles helps reduce stress? It can also help improve your problem-solving ability.
If nurturing your creativity appeals to you as something you would like to pursue in the new year, try these tips.
1. Be mindful. Observe what others are doing around you. The way we see our surroundings and our environment helps build our creative muscles. One of the things that makes Jerry Seinfeld so funny is that he notices things we take for granted and points out its humor for us to see.
So take notice. Appreciate everything and everyone around you. This practice opens your mind to new possibilities. It will also help you build on a collection of experiences that may lead to your feeling inspired.
2. Be willing to take risks to develop your creative skills. While you may fail at first when just starting out, you will boost your creativity and build skills you can use later.
3. Every time you make progress with using your creativity, you build your confidence. Reward yourself for nurturing your creativity.
4. When you approach a problem, remember there may be more than one solution. Look for a variety of solutions instead of going with the first one that comes to mind. This helps build problem-solving skills as well as your creative thinking skills.
5. Start to keep a creativity journal. Use it to keep track of your creative process and any ideas you come up with. Go back and reflect on what you have accomplished. Use it to try to find other solutions to any problems you may have solved already.
6. Use a mind map or flow chart to connect ideas and look for creative answers to any questions you are facing. For the mind map, write down the central topic or word, then link the center word's related ideas. This gives you a visual for seeing ideas and how they are linked.
The flow chart can be used to track what needs to happen when in a project or event. They can also visualize the final product and what needs to happen to get to that finished product.
7. Develop your creativity by changing your environment. This can be as simple as clearing your desk, painting your walls, or moving your furniture. Or you can try taking your laptop to work in a different setting such as a restaurant patio or a park.
8. Fight your fear of failing. If you fear you will make a mistake or fail when you try something new, it can keep you paralyzed. It will stifle your creativity. Mistakes are always going to happen. The trick is not to give up and to learn from them.
9. Get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Do this regularly to help develop your creativity. Changing things and doing things outside your comfort zone boosts creativity. Start with something small if you aren’t ready to rock climb a mountain cliff.
10. Take time to daydream and let your mind wander. Daydreaming leads to creative problem-solving while boosting your creative thinking. As it wanders, your mind accesses memories and emotions as well as those random bits of knowledge you’ve forgotten. Focus on the area you want inspiration in.
Practicing is key when it comes to developing your creativity.
If you don’t stay engaged with your creative nature, your creative abilities will fade. There are many ways to develop your creativity. Just find the ones that work for you.