When were you at your happiest, most energized and most inspired? The answer to this question can yield valuable insights into what can help propel you back into this state in the future. The human mind is very prone to “anchoring” to environmental triggers that can lead you into strong emotional states, both positive and negative.
While most of us aren’t regularly exposed to virtual reality, we routinely encountered novel situations before Covid. Even activities as mundane as taking a new route to work because of a construction detour or having a serendipitous hallway conversation with a colleague can help increase our cognitive flexibility.
We’re also under a tremendous amount of stress right now — from worries about our job security to the health of our loved ones to our children’s education. Research on decision makings shows that our brains are wired to be more reactionary under stress, and this can take a toll on creativity. In our decision-making, for example, we’re likely to limit our thinking to binary choices.
With the pandemic keeping us in our limited and stressful worlds for the foreseeable future, do we have to resign ourselves to an increasing lack of creativity in our work and lives? Not necessarily, according to leadership and creativity experts, as long as we know what steps to take.
Here are five research-backed strategies to widen your world view and enhance your creativity.
1. Choose Your “Destination”
If you don’t know where you’re headed, you can’t make much headway. Whether your goals are personal or professional (or both), be as specific as possible about where you want to be. Are you seeking a committed relationship, a fitness goal or looking to increase your business income by 25%? Be specific, and put it in writing.
2. Set a Deadline/Time Frame
Open-ended goals are harder to achieve, so take a stand and give yourself an end point. Specific deadlines can have a “catalyzing” effect, and work often “fits itself” to the amount of time available. Choose a reasonable deadline for your goals that will motivate you to take action and honor your promise to yourself.
3. Say Yes to Opportunities Worth Your Time
Opening yourself to integral opportunities that hold interesting, engaging project briefs will keep your brain on its toes. Not only will this open the door of possibilities for profound artistic expression but, better yet — you’ll attract better, high-quality assets to focus on those more prominent and better ideas.
4. Go Beyond Your Medium
Our primary instinct is to explore within our borders in the medium of which we craft. Seeking immediate blunder with our familiarity is natural. However, the feeling of being stuck in quicksand is desperate for an extra push outside the typical grind. Taking inspiration from other sectors in your industry will create powerful and often surprising ideas for innovation.
Everyone gets busy. Many times, beyond busy. When we can be present in the moment and step away from the rat race, we can fuel our creativity and inspiration. Stepping outside, listening to music, drinking wine, indulging in great food, immersing yourself in anything that brings you to a calming state is essential. For me, it’s a blend of everything, depending on the moment. It’s a must.
All of the above strategies are an excellent place to start if you’re hoping to spark some new ideas “Our creativity will wane,”the creativity expert David Burkus counsels, “unless we make conscious efforts to counter the narrowing and anxiety of our current situation” That’s good advice. Your creativity shouldn’t be something you forfeit at a time when you need it most.