“Life is a great big canvas. Throw all the paint you can on it.”
What’s your vision for 2017? How do you see your life in the coming year, when you picture it in your mind’s eye? What are the scenes you imagine as you visualize the next 365 days?
Now take it up a notch. Maybe several notches. Make it grander.
Peel back any layers of restriction you may be placing over your vision till you start to see what you really want your life to look like.
Okay, got it? Good.
Now, how are you going to get there? Go ahead, get your creative juices flowing, and do some brainstorming on your next steps.
What’s that? You’re “not creative?” Never have been? Cringe at the thought of a creative brainstorming session? Think the status quo is your permanent home?
Everyone is creative. Every one of us has put our creative stamp on the world already, and will continue to do so throughout our lives.
The question is, are we doing this consciously or unconsciously?
Are we in default creative mode or active creative mode?
In other words, are we doing what we think we should do – behaving as we think we should? Or, are we thinking outside that box and living our own unique life?
Either way, we’re creating our lives with our thoughts, choices, and actions. Every day.
So, what can you do if your day-to-day experience doesn’t match up to your vision, but you feel you lack the creative power to get them in sync?
The answer may lie in rekindling what David Kelley, founder of legendary design firm IDEO and long-time Stanford professor, refers to as our “creative confidence.”
In his 2012 TED talk, Kelley discusses the all-too-common moments in life when we tend lose confidence in our natural creative ability. Sadly, these moments often take place in childhood, at some time during our “education.” A mean critique from a classmate can do the trick, or a teacher trying to get us to be “practical” or “toe the line.” (a.k.a. conform.)
There we are, humming along, creating, when a critic appears and inadvertently wounds our creative confidence.
The good news? We can regain that confidence, and the first step is to recognize that the creative impulse is universal and natural. Yes, to acknowledge that you are creative.
But, what does that mean? It’s frequently thought that being creative is about being an artist. Being creative certainly includes the arts, but it can also result in a new business or career path being born, or a new lifestyle, the redesign of a home, a new way of solving a community problem.
Being creative is about looking at what is and making something new and different out of it. Putting your unique, individual mark on it. “Thinking different” about whatever topic interests you or a problem that’s facing you, then applying those different thoughts and ideas to the task at hand.
Kelley has observed in his work with executives that those who open up to being creative not only come up with more ideas, they also make better decisions in all areas of their lives. And, they make a difference.
So, how to get your feet wet, creatively speaking? Start by giving yourself the gift of play.
“In play, children explore, create, improvise, and imagine,” a wise person once said. Why miss out on that as an adult?
Loosening up and getting in the habit of playing with ideas is a path to creative thinking. As we strengthen our idea muscle, our creative confidence grows.
Whether problem-solving or creating a whole new path for yourself, be willing to play with and consider ideas outside the proverbial box. Practice with smaller topics, if you wish, then build from there. You can brainstorm on your own, or partner with someone else. (Someone with an open mind!)
Pick a topic or problem to explore and discuss, and clearly state what it is. If the goal, for example, is to generate new career or business building ideas, share any relevant thoughts or parameters. (I want to work outside, or I need to double my market share in widgets.)
Here are a few tips for making the most of your idea play (a.k.a. brainstorming):
- Create space between your busy day and the time spent brainstorming. You may want to take a walk or a run, have a cup of tea in a quiet place, meditate, doodle, or watch something that makes you laugh.
- Open up. Nothing positive should be off the table. Always assume something can be done and then make up some ideas as to how it can be done. Don’t let “reality” get in the way at this stage!
- Play and go wild. Purposely come up with some of the craziest ideas possible. Imagine that there are no limitations to what can be done. Stay away from the “known” and the “proven” for a while.
- Take ideas down another level. And then another. For example, if you’ve identified three new ways to generate income, perhaps farming, being a tour guide, and writing a best-seller, brainstorm the next level of questions. What kind of farming? International tour guide or in your hometown? Fiction or non-fiction?
- Mix things up. Combine ideas in unexpected ways. Love yoga and chess? Want to live on a beautiful island? How about opening a teaching center in Hawaii, focusing on both mental and physical fitness, offering courses in both yoga and chess in a gorgeous setting? (P.S. This has actually been done!)
- Take it away! Action is what enables you to make your idea a reality. Once you’ve narrowed your ideas down and have decided what step you want to take first, do it. Don’t delay!
The more you play with creative thinking, the more your creative confidence will bloom. And the more able you’ll be to take your grandest vision of 2017 and make it a reality.
What will you create in 2017?
Have fun with it!