Monday Mornings with Madison

Boosting Creativity in 2016

Many people focus on make resolutions of things we want to do more, do less, do better or stop doing altogether.  Obviously, the goal of resolutions is to use the commitment as an impetus to become a better person or live a better life.  But, in truth, most people can just recycle resolutions year after year with little or no changes at all.  Typically, those resolutions are broken or forgotten within the first hours, days or weeks of inception.   Ideas for how to keep those resolutions fail.  Perhaps what is actually needed are new ways to tackle old problems?  What is really needed is creativity.

Creativity is the ability to make new things or think up new ideas.  Creativity is the tool that is able to pierce the prickliest problems, tackle the most daunting challenges and dismantle the most difficult dilemmas.  Armed with creativity, certainly every resolution can not only be kept but conquered.  But how does one go about tacking old problems in creative ways if we have no new ideas?  Is there really a way to boost creativity?  Yes, there is.

15 Ways to Boost Creativity and Find News Ways to Solve Old Problems

1.  Carry a notebook everywhere. New ideas are irritatingly unpredictable.  They show up in the most unexpected times and places.  Dreams.  Driving.  While walking the dog.  Always be ready to jot down a new idea or an epiphany.

2.  Make lists. Lists keep the mind uncluttered.  When the things that need to be remembered are written on lists, the mind is free to roam and wander.  In that space is where creativity thrives.

3.  Research. Tap into other people’s creativity.  Find out how others tackled that problem or a related problem.  Their solutions may not necessarily work for you, but it might spur other lines of thinking.  Often the best solutions come from making connections between and drawing inferences from two completely separate issues.

4.  Get away from the computer. After doing some research online, walk away from the technology and let your mind just be.  Get out in the world.  Don’t think about the problem.  Just let yourself be in the moment and then the synapses in the mind are able to fire off in new directions.

5.  Quit beating yourself up. Nothing will undermine the ability to solve a problem more than a lack of self-esteem and confidence.  If there is a persistent problem or issue, berating oneself about it will not improve the situation.

6.  Collaborate. By verbalizing the issue and discussing why it continues to be a problem, sometimes one is able to see it from a different perspective.  Sometimes an “Aha moment” happens by hearing someone say something that’s been said many times before but this time it resonates in a different way.  Just putting a problem into words can help crystallize what is really at issue and deliver revelations that can lead to breakthroughs.

7.  Sing. Singing and music emanate from a different hemisphere of the brain than speech and communication. While talking an issue to death might not generate a single new thought, singing could tap into the other side of the brain where computations are handled and logic lives.

8.  Get help. Sometimes the solution to a problem is simply not within one’s power.  We are social beings meant to work with one another for the greater good.  When there is a resolution you just can’t seem to tackle on your own, get others to help you.  For example, studies have found that when people work out together, they lose more weight, become more fit and achieve more of their fitness goals.

9.  Get competitive. If working together with others doesn’t generate solutions to a problem, sometimes the opposite works.  Compete with others.  It’s been said many times that necessity is the mother of invention.  Perhaps if there is a pressing need to win, new ways to tackle an old problem will surface.  Competition may be just the thing to spur the creative juices.

10.  Go someplace new. Even if it isn’t an exciting or fun place, a new place forces the senses to respond to new stimuli.  A new place offers a fresh perspective, and often expands the mind to new ideas and things.

11.  Do something totally new to you. Think of something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done.  Go do it.  Volunteer to help someone less fortunate.  Fly a kite (if you’ve never done it).  If you’ve never played Chess or Dominoes or Gin Rummy, have someone teach you.  Ever played Pickle Ball?  No.  Do it.  (It is a real game played on a court.)  Solve a Soduko puzzle.  New activities force the brain to work in new ways.  This exercises both body and mind, generating opportunities for creativity.

12.  Change your setting. If you always work on a problem while sitting at your desk or on your couch, get up and go somewhere else to work.  Just being in a different environment will break habits and open the mind to new things.

13.  Surround yourself with creative people. Think of the most creative people in your circle of friends, acquaintances and colleagues.  Spend time with those who are most creative and ask them about their new ideas.  Consider their sources of inspiration.

14.  Get out of your comfort zone. This is the hardest thing to do.  Most people cling to their comfort zone the way Linus (from the cartoon, Charlie Brown) clings to his security blanket.  But if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.  The key is to break out of ruts and routines and explore new terrain.  Take a new road to work.  Shop at a different grocery store.  Do different exercises at the gym.  Eat a food you’ve never tried.  Order something totally different the next time dining out.  With each “new” thing, the door to new ideas opens, and new ways of looking at old problems emerge.

15.  Take a dance or yoga class. Apparently learning to do a physical activity based on complex instructions stimulates creativity and fires up the synapses in the brain in ways that are really beneficial.  Studies have found that students who do about 15 minutes of calisthenics with complex instructions (in which they have to listen to directions and then do what was instructed) prior to taking a test perform significantly better on standardized tests than students who just did some basic exercise, stretched or did nothing at all.  Following the instructions made their brains work better.

These are all ways to get the creative juices flowing.  Once creativity abounds, it’s time to tackle resolutions with creative ways to make them happen.  With new ideas fueling the brain, there is no telling how many of those resolutions will get done… perhaps once and for all.

Quote of the Week

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” Steve Jobs


© 2015, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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