5 Steps to Unblock Your Creative Potential

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw

You are a creative person!

How do I know?

I know because you’re a human with a brain, a brain with an imagination, the ability to think of new ideas, and to solve important problems.

Creativity is an innate faculty, and with exercise you can strengthen this mental muscle.

When you were a child you had this creative spark intuitively. You played; you exercised your imagination, you were curious and you did quirky and unusual things.

But if you’re like many people, as you get older you stopped using your imagination. You started to think more practically and empirically, and little by little your creative channel got blocked.

Sometimes it’s from social rejection, people telling us our ideas are stupid or won’t work. Or we put creativity in the box of the classic “artist,” and feel excluded from the club of the painter, musician, or sculptor.

We become convinced we’re not a creative person, and because of this, we spot being the “creator” of our life.

We stop imagining new and better possibilities, and we stop taking steps to actually create them in the world.

Be confident about your creative potential.

You can become the co-creator of your life if you’re willing to see greater possibilities and playfully experiment.

Here’s how to start!

1. Redesign routine and habits – Daily divergent thinking

The enemy of the creative life is the mindless and unchanging life – the habituated life where we no longer make novel and fascinating decisions, where we aren’t faced with healthy challenges to use our problem solving skills.

It’s important to have routine and habits to help conserve our willpower for more important things, but we also want to be intentional and increase the amount of divergent thinking we do.

Divergent thinking is a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions.

Play around with simple ways to change your routine to stimulate divergent thinking. Listen to an intriguing podcast, take a thought walk for reflection, or drive a different route to work.

How can you push yourself to do things differently than you’re used to?

2. Use it or lose it – Start a creative project

Now that you’re steering away from a life on autopilot, it’s time to use and strengthen your creativity.

Develop a creative project where you can express yourself artistically.

You don’t need to create a masterpiece. The point is to get more familiar with your creative process, to experience the emotions behind creative expression and engage with these feelings.

Neuroscience has shown that our brain is malleable, and according to an article in Fast Company, by incorporating creative habits into our life we can strengthen the neural pathways that help us think creatively.

The article states, “In order to think creatively, you must develop new neural pathways and break out of the cycle of experience-dependent categorization.”

If you want to think differently or more artistically, it will help to have different and diverse experiences. 

3. Growth mindset – Don’t stop creating

I hope it’s clear by now that you’re capable of becoming more creative if you practice and build this muscle.

Just keep in mind that along the way you will have growing pains.

Creativity is a bold and courageous process. You’ll have ideas and creations that aren’t any good, but that’s just part of a creative life.

The important thing is to not suppress your creativity because of this.

If you don’t think you’re creative you will shut down and stifle your own potentially genius ideas.

Take on the creative process and keep learning along the way.  

4. Let go of comparison – Just be you

Many people block their creativity because of comparison. We see other people creating extraordinary art and don’t think we can cut it, or we end up trying to fit in to a mold that doesn’t match our style of creativity.

In her book The Gifts of Imperfections, author and researcher Brené Brown points out that one way to increase creativity is to stop comparing.

Creative expression is vulnerable and exposing for many people. If we’re spending our time and energy trying to be like other people or fit in, it’s going to block our creativity and unique expression.

It’s important to put yourself out there, despite the fear of what other people might think.

5. Get visual – Practice drawing ideas 

A final idea to unleash creativity is to develop your capacity to think visually. Some people think more in images and others think more in words.

I tend to be a verbal thinker so have to be intentional to exercise my visual thinking ability.

One way to develop visualization skills is to doodle and express ideas through drawing. You don’t need to be an artist to do this. If you can draw stick figures and basic shapes you can get the gist of visually communicating and inventing.

Dan Roam, author of the book The Back of the Napkin, points out why drawing can be such a powerful tool and how to do it.

In The Guardian he explains that, “To help people overcome this lack of confidence, I break the entire “visual thinking” process down into four discrete steps: looking, seeing, imagining, and showing. Each step makes demands on a different part of our innate visual abilities, and each step plays an important role in learning to take in the big picture.”

Become the co-creator of your life

In case it’s not clear yet: YOU’RE A CREATOR!

Start to recognize and step into this role on a daily basis.

A creative life is about taking your experiences and learning from them, using your imagination to see new possibilities, and to start actually creating that mental image into reality.

Be up to something creative. Create the kind of day you want to have, and create the health and vitality you want to experience.

You’re creative if you decide to step into the role of being the creator of your life.

Photo credit: aNdrzej cH.