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Being creative is not a priority for many of us, but the importance of creativity in our work and home life is gaining more focus.

W hile some people are finding that being creative is a necessary skill to stay employed these days, others are able to find new business opportunities by thinking and acting creatively.

It seems more people are working in creative industries and innovative thinking is becoming a regular requirement in job posts. For those of us who aren’t accustomed to working this way, it can seem daunting, but don’t worry. It just takes a little practice.

Contrary to the popular belief that creativity is inherited, many people are starting to believe the innovative spark is inside all of us. It is a skill that can be learned and it’s just waiting to get out.

Understanding why

It is widely recognized that children are naturally creative, but many lose this skill as they grow older. It is likely that as they enter full time education, the need for this skill decreases and an overactive imagination becomes an obstacle to learning.

If you struggle with projects that involve a more unconventional form of thinking, you may be stifled by self-imposed limitations or even the limitations of the company and environment you work in.

A 2012 study showed that some of the biggest obstacles to creativity in the workplace were fear of taking risks, time constraints and the amount of autonomy or freedom offered to individuals. Research by Microsoft from 2017 has also shown that the workplace itself can stifle creativity if the environment is uninspiring, stressful and distracting.

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“How humans ruin the world” lego sets (Photo by B. Halliday)

The freedom to play and having fun doing it

As an adult with a busy work and home life, it can be hard to find the time to play. The time to do something for yourself, purely for fun without any relation to work. Whatever your hobby, you have probably noticed that when we are engaged in an activity we enjoy, we are relaxed, attentive and happy.

It is in these moments that a creative mindset can be fostered. This is the optimum state for our creativity to flourish. It is true that artists struggle to hold a conversation while working, when they are deeply engaged in what they are doing and all distractions are removed.

You can try it for yourself. Just sit with a piece of paper and a pen or pencil, and sketch whatever is in your room or outside your window. If you concentrate on all the small details and try to place them in the correct place and proportion on the page, you will realize how quickly you are immersed in this simple activity.

This point of relaxed focus is similar to a meditative mindset.

Meditation and creativity

Though it may be a technique you have never considered before, some individuals and organizations are realizing the benefits from meditation practices on their business.

Historian and best-selling author, Yuval Noah Harari, on being able to write his best selling books says, “The discipline to have this focus I really got from the meditation.”

Meditation and mindfulness have also caught on in Silicon Valley with Google pioneering emotional intelligence training that prioritizes a calm and clear mind. The SIYLI or Search Inside Yourself course was such a success. It has extended beyond the Google corporate environment and now offers independent training to other individuals and organizations.

Meditation can be as simple as a short series of breathing exercises that puts you in a relaxed and productive mood. There are many resources online if you would like to learn more about meditation. You can visit Mindful and how to meditate.

Do I need to meditate to be creative?

For once, it’s not the route but the destination that is important. If you can get into the same creative mindspace in a different way, maybe a free writing exercise, going for a walk, listening to music or anything else, then that’s what counts.

Prepare to fail

Creativity, to some extent, is based on confidence – the confidence to attempt something new and possibly fail. The possibility of failure and the fear of it is what most likely prevents many of us from trying new things.

As a means to overcome the fear of failure, if you are prone to it, why not try expanding your skills in private before doing it at work. You may find that a solution you created working on a personal project is directly transferable to a work problem and vice versa.

Testing and expanding your skills without fear of judgment or failure can give the confidence boost you need to work more freely and with greater imagination.

Diversify

Though it is great to specialize in one field, this singular focus can occasionally put us in a mental rut that can be difficult to break out of. Why not try to learn a new skill that is entirely unrelated to your field of expertise?

While this may seem a bit illogical, it can help to remember that the problem to overcome here is a mental one. The issue is our brain’s current inability to make the connections we need them to. The solution requires stimulating the mind to reorganize the way it functions.

Build a habit

To ensure success, it is important to cultivate a regular habit of creativity which prioritizes a relaxed and concentrated state of mind.

This could involve taking regular breaks, incorporating breath or mindfulness exercises into your routine, or finding or creating a space to work in that inspires you.

The benefits for you

Though the benefits of being able to offer imaginative solutions at work are obvious, there are personal benefits too. The ability to imagine something new and then create it can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences in life.

It can be good to remember that the happiest creative people are those who are absorbed in their work. The problems we encounter and the solutions we create are what keep us interested and engaged.

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