What comes to mind when you hear the word “creativity?” A lot of people think that creativity is the realm of artists or musicians. But really, every human being possesses creativity and can grow by having a creative outlet.
Note: This is the fourth in a series on entrepreneurship. I recently started my own consulting business and I’m writing about my own discoveries and experiences. Read my last post on the importance of time management.
If you have a creative outlet, you know what it’s like to think of something and translate to the physical world for others to appreciate. If not, you’re missing out on seeing the world from different perspectives, and learning a lot about yourself.
The act of taking an idea from the abstract to the physical world can help you think about old problems in new ways. For example, planning something—like a vacation, a budget, or a website—teaches you how to envision a solution before it exists. This skill of creative problem solving can translate to other activities in the arts, office, or at home.
Additionally, discovering your own creative gifts can be a rewarding experience and can have benefits in your normal daily life. It’s fun! Inspiration is important for everyone, artist or not. A creative outlet can generate inspiration, which is a form of motivation. And we all need motivation.
Everyone is Creative
Yes, everyone is creative. It’s true. We all have the ability to imagine and make things that don’t exist in the real world. One misconception is that only “creative” people—commonly grouped as artists, writers, musicians, actors, etc.—have this ability. But the arts are merely expressions of talent, which is not the same as creativity.
Talents are innate abilities that differ from person to person, such as aptitude for music, color theory, mechanical engineering, or cooking. Everyone has different talents, and everyone has different measures of creativity. But everyone has it in some measure.
Creativity is merely the capacity to see possibilities, while talent has more to do with different expressions of those possibilities. If someone is a great songwriter, she combines a strong creative thought process with musical talent to translate a melody in her head to sound waves on a recording.
But again, creativity is not limited to the “arts”—I can see extraordinary creativity in the design of a bridge, code in software, and the way a city transit system is planned.
Creativity is an Essential Problem Solving Tool
Creativity is really a problem-solving tool. Whether you’re a graphic artist or an accountant, there are elements of your profession that require novel thought. Think about a time when you faced a situation you never experienced before. You probably had to use critical thinking and creativity to respond in a meaningful way.
However, as we get older, we tend to be surprised less often and rely on experience and muscle memory to solve problems. There’s nothing wrong with solving problems in an efficient manner, but we miss out on an opportunity to learn something new.
Pausing to learn a new problem-solving approach takes a lot more time and energy. Using creativity and talents to address problems can be as exhausting as it is exhilarating. But it is really rewarding because the creative process results in unique expressions of your own innate abilities.
Benefits of Practicing Creativity
There are a lot of benefits for having a creative outlet and practicing creativity. Doing something you love to do can give you motivation, energy, enthusiasm, and inspiration for other areas of life.
I try to approach my tasks as creative challenges. I write, I create music, I design things, I create strategy, and sometimes write some code. The things I learn when writing a post (like this one) help me when I write copy for a client project. When I record a song, the things I learn about the production process help me with project management. And the energy I get from discovering new things on my own motivates me in my business.
How to Exercise Creativity
So how can you find a creative outlet? Identify the one thing you love to do—the thing that really excites you—and keep doing it. Find inspiration in a change of pace. Slow down so you can focus on a new creative pursuit. Go someplace new to find inspiration from a change of place. You’ll find you have more energy and enthusiasm for all the other areas of your life.
Finally, if all else fails, try something you’ve never tried before. You can never exhaust the exciting possibilities this world has to offer.
Jonathan King is Principal and Creative Director of J5MEDIA, a digital marketing consulting firm.