Happy New Year to all of you! The beginning of a new year is always a fresh start, and the time to set resolutions for a new, better you. Today I would like to persuade you to pursue an unusual resolution in 2016: Begin living a creative life.
What does it mean to live life creatively?
When you live a creative life, you:
- courageously take initiative and act rather than just being reactive and passive, which is often the result of being afraid of making a mistake or of fearing the unknown;
- insist upon yourself and assert your originality and individuality rather than blindly following the herd and conforming to norms and expectations of others;
- are curious and open to learning something new and meeting new people rather than being judgmental and closed;
- are playful and able to look at the bright side of everything rather than being a negative, serious pessimist;
- do things that you love doing and look for creative ways to make chores more enjoyable, rather than being indifferent or working only for the money;
- appreciate ideas, think about new ways of doing things and stay open and receptive to ideas and creative inspirations that come your way;
- spice-up your work and life by seeking new experiences and acquiring new knowledge and skills;
- go with the flow, flexibly adjusting your plans and regularly breaking your habits to try something new;
- perceive a spectrum of colors where others see just black and white and respond with a confident ‘maybe’ when asked to firmly say ‘yes’ or ‘no’;
- focus on the present moment — producing results now and living mindfully aware now; and
- strike a harmonious balance between focused doing and relaxed being — between total application to a chosen activity and total relaxation when you need a break.
When you go with the creative flow, you are more likely to get into flow, the state of optimal experience when everything flows easily, effortlessly and enjoyably and peak performances as well as creative breakthroughs reside.
Why is it worth living life creatively?
Now that you know what a creative life encompasses, you may ask: Why should I do it? Why should I break out of the comfort zone of a safe and sound, conforming and habitual, serious and busy life to live a more daring creative life? Here are three reasons why:
1. Coping better with the modern business environment:
Living life creatively enables you to better cope with ambiguity, uncertainty and change. At the beginning of the 21st century, our work and lives are affected by accelerating speed, mounting risks and uncertainties, exponential change, rising complexity, and regular positive and negative surprises. Can you effectively respond to an environment with the same old ideas and jerk responses? Albert Einstein was right when he said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” We need new thinking and new ideas and solutions to resolve modern challenges. We need creativity.
2. Dealing better with constraints and challenges:
Living life creatively gives you a mindset that makes it easy for you to come up with ideas. This allows you to creatively respond to challenges (i.e., a problem that you face, or an opportunity that you consider pursuing) at work and in your life. It also enables you to creatively deal with constraints that you face such as how to produce meaningful results with less time, money, people or other resources.
3. Having a more joyous, happy and productive life:
How do you feel when you get a great idea? When you act on your idea and make it happen? When you are yourself rather than wearing a mask? When you learn and do and experience something new rather than doing the same old things in the same old ways? When you work in a focused way and produce tangible results rather than mindlessly wasting your time with busywork? When you’re working hard on things you enjoy doing while also making time available for relaxation and play? Well, if you’re like most people, living life creatively is likely to bring more joy, satisfaction and happiness into your life.
How to begin living life creatively?
A few simple baby steps to set you on the way:
- Do something that pushes you out of your comfort zone.
- Dare to be yourself and express your own opinions and individuality.
- Learn something new and open-up to new people and experiences.
- Every day, do something that you enjoy doing
- Frame the challenges that you face at work and in your life as simple ‘How to’-questions (e.g., “How to live life more creatively?”), then come up with ideas with the help of creativity techniques and be receptive to getting more ideas from your subconscious mind.
- Focus on producing a tangible result by the end of each work day, but also set time aside for relaxation and play.
If you want to pursue your creativity even further, please bear with me until later in 2016, when my new book “Genius Journey. Developing Authentic Creative Leaders for the Innovation Economy” is due to appear. Moreover, check out our creative leadership development method Genius Journey — and contact us if you want to learn more about it.
© Dr. Detlef Reis 2015. This article is published in parallel in the Bangkok Post under the same title on 7 January 2016.