When was the last time you did something creative? When did you last sketch an image, write a poem, or sing a song?
For most of us, our daily office experience is about structure, not play. Yet, we are all creative.
Have you ever seen a 2-year-old that didn’t want to draw or play house or a 10-year-old that didn’t imagine another world? What has changed since then?
A lot of fear and judgment, but we’ll get back to this. Let’s first define creativity.
At Project X, it’s putting your imagination to work. It’s the nexus of two distinct skills: resiliency and vulnerability.
Why? Because creativity requires developing a practice. You have to keep going over, around and through the obstacles. You also have to open your heart and connect to your authentic self — your values and dreams.
Creativity is a metaphor for everything we experience on our journey to finding purpose. It has no fixed outcomes. We pivot and reimagine. We run micro-experiments. We explore and engage with the world. We grow our empathy and see things from the perspective of many others.
Here are 5 ways to infuse creativity into your job and help you get closer to your purpose:
- Turn constraints into creative opportunities. This is part mindset shift and part proven fact; innovation is often a result of working around a constraint. Compile a list of 3-5 constraints you face daily in your work. Pick one and brainstorm three workarounds. Bonus points if you invite a colleague to help you come up with options.
- Jump on a swing. We literally want you to play. Buy a Nerf basketball hoop and tape it to your cubicle. Watch an episode of The Office and copy a Jim prank (...within reason). Whatever it is, recognize it’s not time wasted. We need to play to unleash our creativity.
- Try the “Opposite Day.” Your office routine = rut. Come up with three ways to get out of your usual daily work habits. Maybe you start with a coffee and email for an hour. Flip it! Try a 15-minute whiteboard brainstorm about the meeting you’re going to have in the afternoon. Then have your coffee at 10 a.m. — crazy! The point is, when we do things differently, we see the world differently. Get creative with how you can do this.
- Desk hop. Switch desks with a colleague and bring nothing to their desk other than your laptop (if you have one). The goal is to change perspective. Maybe spend the day working from a lunch desk near a window. Get your usual office “things” out of reach. See where your mind wanders from this new vantage point.
- Do the tango. Creativity is like romance. It’s better with a partner. But don’t constrain yourself to an office buddy as the only possible collaborator. Make an effort to find someone outside your daily routine to meet up with and challenge them to ideate with you on a few things running through your head.
"Creativity is something you practice, not just a talent you’re born with.” – Tom Kelley
Even if you’re lucky enough to have some creative elements to your job, it’s never enough. We were born to be artistic.
When we embed more creativity — more artistry, more play — into our day, clues about what energizes us are revealed. They’re a key part of the journey to purpose.
As you gather these clues, check out our weekly Top 10 Purposeful Jobs listings for inspirational, artistic jobs and learn more about the other five “Purpose Sparks” at work in our next article in this series.