Your friend can whip up a gourmet meal with three ingredients, but serving spaghetti instead of penne is your best attempt at becoming more creative in the kitchen. Many people think that cooking, drawing, crafting and other common forms of artistic expression are the only ways to express a creative side. But you don’t need a “talent” to be creative. Creativity is about more than just mastering a skill. It is also about the way you think and how you see the world.
The ability to problem solve, tell an engaging story, plan an upcoming trip or simply manage your family’s daily schedule are all forms of what experts call “everyday creativity”—examples of smart, innovative thinking that involves an imaginative approach to finding solutions, communicating, balancing time and more. “Anyone who puts together even one outfit for a job interview is creative, because that is about working with what you have, what you know, assumptions about others, self-expression and more,” says Ann Pardo, M.A., L.P.C., B.C.C., director of life management at Canyon Ranch, Tucson. And studies have shown that people who engage in this type of creative thinking share positive traits—like open-mindedness and curiosity—with their more “traditionally creative” counterparts.
Becoming more creative isn’t about becoming someone you’re not. It’s about finding new ways to call up the creative side we all have within us and giving yourself time to cultivate your own path.
Don’t Try to Be Perfect
The need for perfection can be a serious roadblock when it comes to becoming more creative. We avoid trying something because we’re too afraid to make a mistake. Remember: Everything around you is imperfect, including you! Rather than focusing on getting it right, give whatever you are doing your best shot. Mistakes may actually open your mind up to new ideas and approaches. You may have a friend whose expertise in the kitchen you envy, but remember: Chances are good that she served her fair share of fallen soufflés and scorched steaks before she got to where she is now, so give yourself the same room to grow.
Seek Out Inspiration
For centuries, artists, musicians, poets and writers have relied on muses to provide inspiration, so why not try finding one of your own? External input and stimulation can help you come up with good ideas and solve problems, whether you’re getting your garage organized or trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Find someone or something to aspire to and expose yourself to new experiences often.
Pick Up a Pen
Keeping a journal is not only a proven stress buster, it’s also a great way to encourage creativity. Think of it as the first step in your creative process—a blank slate for you to throw out any thought that crosses your mind. Putting your ideas down on paper, instead of allowing them to just float around in your head, can help you see them in a fresh light. And don’t hold back. No censoring! Your journal is a place where your imagination can—and should—run wild.
Give Yourself Time to Explore
Becoming more creative isn’t something that happens overnight, and you may need to try different things before you find the one that lights you up and unleashes the creativity within. Allowing yourself a few minutes each day or week to work on your creative endeavors or just daydream can open up new opportunities for you flex your imagination.