If you had asked me several years ago to list my most prevalent characteristics, creativity would have never entered my mind. As a corporate lawyer working in the financial industry, I couldn’t see what I had in common with my friends who were artists, or designers, or musicians. But, the inescapable truth is that regardless of your profession or industry, building a thriving professional and personal life requires creativity.
We all have professional obstacles to overcome, whether it’s managing a difficult relationship with a co-worker, solving a problem that presents a risk to our corporation, or finding a new way to pitch an existing product. Most of us also face personal challenges. We grapple with how to invest fully inn our careers without shortchanging our health or our families. We struggle to deal with our stress. We search for ways to let go of old habits. Creativity allows us to address each of these situations in new and novel ways.
Creativity keeps also keeps us engaged and growing. Doing the same thing the same way for years is simply boring. But being given the freedom to innovate, to find new and better ways to fulfill your job, is invigorating. Finding a sense of adventure in your personal life keeps your mind young, and sustains long-term relationships.
Finally, creativity allows us to see our own habits and behavior with new perspective, and find new ways of being in the world. Doing so can enhance our success and lead to improved results in almost all endeavors. It can help us reduce stress and find new ways of coping with complex issues.
What if you don’t think of yourself as a creative?
All this sounds great, right? But what if, like me, you don’t consider yourself to be creative? Or if you find yourself in a role where you don’t think creativity is valued?
First, change up what “creativity” is in your mind. For too many of us, “being creative” conjures up visions of a master musician, artist, or craftsman, but creativity comes in many different forms. Maybe you’re great at solving interpersonal conflict on your team. Or maybe you’re the friend everyone looks to when planning a party. These things are also creativity at work.
Once you’ve broadened your idea of what it means to be creative, start to notice the ways that you currently exercise your creative muscle. If you can’t easily find them in the office, start by looking in other areas of your life. Still having trouble? Ask those around you for their perspective. It’s almost always true that others see us as more creative than we see ourselves.
If, after you’ve done these things, you find that you have indeed left behind your own inherent sense of creativity, find small ways to invite it back into your life. Instead of complaining about that process at the office that makes no sense, think of an innovative way to do it better. Rediscover a long-abandoned hobby like photography or cooking that allows you to strengthen your own sense of the creative.
Creativity isn’t a trait for the few. Regardless of where you find yourself professionally, regaining a sense of yourself as a creative person can yield dividends. As a bonus, you might even have a little fun!