/Our lives have become little more than a series of patterns, each of which has become the mazes we walk through in our day-to-day lives.  But, what if we could rise above that maze and do something different?  What if life was more than just waking up, going to work, eating at the same restaurants, going to the same shopping centers, and watching the same shows…?

What if we had it within ourselves to rediscover our sense of wonder?

According to Nick Skillicorn, CEO, Founder, and Innovation Coach at Improvides, creativity is producing a new idea that has value to someone.  He suggests that the reason we may think that we are not creative is due to the fact that, throughout school, children are taught the importance of giving the correct answer to questions; this is what they are graded on which will determine whether they pass or fail. This further teaches the brain to associate safety with doing things correctly or properly, and danger with going outside of the “norms”. New ideas are also rough and unfinished when initially generated, which makes them much more susceptible to criticism. Fear of this criticism makes the discussion of new ideas an unpleasant experience for many people.

So what happens when we remove the fear?  A study of schoolchildren showed that when asked “Are you creative?”, over 90% of 2nd graders said they were. By the time they had reached high school, that figure had dropped to below 10%. Because they’d been taught to fear their own creativity.

2020 stands to become a pivotal year for many of us who embrace the idea that there’s more to life than the maze we’ve been conditioned to walk.  But every journey begins with a single step. Here are 5 you can take to wake up your own sleeping giant and kickstart your own creativity!

  1. /USE YOUR PHONE – Almost every cell phone on the planet has a camera in it that we use to capture images of the world around us. Typically, we use these cameras to photograph foods we eat or pose for selfies or photos with friends. But what if we considered the camera as our only window to the outside world and used it, instead, to redefine how we see the most mundane things? Go ahead. Try it. Still, photography is an art. Try to capture an image of a drop of water on a blade of grass or a sunset or even your fingerprint! Get into the habit of playing with your camera’s features to connect the world around you to the emotional dialogue you have deep down inside of you. And do it without fear of criticism. Take the photos that help you feel like you’re seeing something for the first time – you’d be amazed at the results!
  2. SET UP MYSTERY TRIPS – Many of us commute to-and-from school or work on a daily basis and rarely stray from the path. But what if you decided there was more to your neighborhood than what you see every day?  Even on a budget, there’s always more for you to do and see than you do every day.  Museums rotate exhibitions – what’s happening there this month?  Have you gone on a nature hike – or even an urban hike? The ubiquity of GPS systems in both our cars and cell phones suggests that ours is the last generation that will ever be lost – how about gassing up the car and just going for a drive in any direction?  Creativity is about taking in new things and processing them in a manner that enriches your life – and be sure to pack a picnic basket!
  3. TAKE A CLASS – It doesn’t matter where you live, there are super affordable learning opportunities nearby! Want to learn how to bake?  Or how about a ceramics class, or even how to write computer code? Learning is a fun way to meet new people with similar interests, but it can also be a gateway to creativity!  Imagine taking a cooking class and then coming home and trying your own take on familiar recipes!  Instant neural connectivity and all you had to do was drop twenty-five dollars on the table and say, “Teach me!” LOL!  You can’t go wrong!
  4. KEEP A JOURNAL – Few things make you feel more in touch with yourself than your own private, personal journal. You can use it to jot down your deepest secrets, write poems that have special meaning only for you, and doodle or draw to your heart’s content!  And you can fill it with ticket stubs or pressed flowers to commemorate experiences you’re having outside of your comfort zone. Allow yourself to daydream; The sky’s the limit with a journal, and all you’ll need to awaken your inner creativity is a pencil or pen!
  5. COLLABORATE WITH A FRIEND — Remember this one last thing: Ideas themselves are worthless if you never do anything with them. I hope that once you’ve given yourself the opportunity to have an idea, you then have the ambition to actually go and execute it. This is always easier with someone else. Ideas that bring us closer to each other actually help awaken our creativity because collaboration challenges us to connect with others in ways that enrich our lives. This is what takes an idea and turns it into something that changes the way we live. And, we know it’s scary to ask someone to do something with us that we love (not as scary as asking someone out on a date!) but when you hit that wall, you should always imagine the anatomy of a turtle; because it is physically impossible for a turtle to walk – to move forward – unless it sticks its neck out. The same might be true for you. Believe in yourself. Accept the risk. Be Creative!