Creativity and innovation begin with the spark of an idea. But for so many, the process ends there with no plan to manifest. Understanding simple ways to turn your ideas into action will give you the edge to turn that spark to a flame and rise as a leader in innovation and creativity.
These ten simple tools not only jump-start your creative spirit, but they help you maintain and sustain the idea flow. Making these steps a part of your life will reinforce a solid creative foundation in your life, facilitate innovation, and ease your problem-solving process.
1. Understand What You’re Passionate About.
You can accomplish this by creating a mission statement, an artist’s statement, or a set of guiding principles. Finding what truly drives and inspires you helps focus your attention on your creative gifts. A well thought out mission serves as a beacon on your path, helping you decide when to say yes and when to say no. This process is crucial for creative people—especially those who find themselves overwhelmed by numerous ideas.
2. Catch Your Ideas.
How many times has a great idea struck you and by the end of the day you can’t remember what it was? Creating a system for catching your ideas will help you realize what an amazingly creative mind you already have. Whether you use notecards, a PDA, a tape recorder, or a notepad, find the method that you’re comfortable with…and use it! The key is consistency and variety. Discover what works for you, and don’t be afraid to be unconventional.
3. De-Clutter Your Mind.
Amidst the wonderful ideas floating around in your head are random thoughts, mental observations, worries, fears, and reminders. Begin keeping a daily journal to record your mind’s ramblings. Write at least two pages, preferably in longhand, on whatever is going through your head. Make lists, hold conversations, explore new ideas, document dreams. This is a great activity for first thing in the morning and right before bed.
4. Enjoy Creative Rituals.
Engaging in an activity that will entertain, amuse, and delight your creative spirit keeps your outlook fresh and your innovation fired up. A ritual can be as simple as 2 minutes of intentional laughing or as elaborate as a weekend away. The purpose is to inspire you to do something new and different that recharges your creativity and stimulates your imagination.
5. Make Time for Reflection and Introspection.
Take time to get quiet and look within. What behaviors or thoughts keep you from growing your creativity? How are situations in your life zapping your energy, thereby reducing your creative output? Creativity is an inside-out job. Healing yourself from within is a step in the right direction.
6. Practice Gratitude.
Gratitude is a HUGE part of creativity. When you express gratitude for the simplest things, you’ll find yourself rewarded with a host of new ideas. Use your daily journal to list everything you’re grateful for, and you’ll soon feel the power of gratitude in your life. If you’re suffering from a creative block, sit down and write a list of ten things you’re grateful for. When good things come your way, put a word of gratitude out there.
7. Practice Appreciation.
Along with gratitude comes appreciation: appreciating the creativity of others, appreciating beauty, appreciating people’s efforts. Find something to appreciate in everything you see today, whether it’s something from nature, a handmade item, or something manufactured. Observe and appreciate the work that goes into everything around you.
8. Create Community.
Find or create a community of people who share your passions and interests. Share what excites you: your successes, your frustrations, your craziest schemes. Communities meet online, by conference call, in person, or through other means. The right one is out there and is waiting for you.
9. Stop the Trickster.
The Trickster is that negative voice in your head who tells you that you aren’t good enough, that you can’t change, that being creative is for other people. Tell the Trickster to be quiet, and understand that it is only an illusion of your mind designed to keep you from growing.
10. Celebrate Small Victories.
Creativity doesn’t have to be grand or on a large scale. An insignificant action for one person can be a huge victory for another. If you try at least one of the items on this list, consider that a small victory.
Watch how infusing your life with the gifts of creativity sparks talents and skills you may not even realize you have. Who knows… maybe you’re the one with The Next Big Idea!