Dream Bigger Tip #16: Nurture Your Creativity

You are a creative super star! It might not be what you think you are, but I guarantee you that creativity...

Dream Bigger Tip #16: Nurture Your Creativity

You are a creative super star! It might not be what you think you are, but I guarantee you that creativity is in your DNA. The problem is, most of us have gone through a creativity killing process called education. It’s when we inherited dreams we didn’t choose for ourselves, and forget about our own.

But let’s try to remember for a minute. All the dreams you had, the stories you performed, the endless imagination you brought to the table. Where’s that magic spark? What happened to the crazy life you were going to live? The unique career you were going to have?

They was slowly filtered out of you.

As you made your way from teenager to adult, there wasn’t much left. Your fidgeting, playful, passionate, insatiable self made way for a more manageable version. One that had a nicely predefined place in society, a clear role you’ve since then learned to perform well. So much that you’ve come to believe that this role you’re performing is, in fact, who you are.

The trouble is, it isn’t.

When creativity dies, big dreams often die too. And with them the stardust that makes us unique.

I’m a example of this. By the time I was 20 there was little creativity left in me. As a child I always had the wildest dreams. I wrote, painted, danced, sang, put plays together with my cousins, made things. There wasn’t a day that went by that I wasn’t creative.

As I grew older the pressure to conform, to perform, and to make something of myself increased. Creativity became a time waster, and I felt guilty for having so many interests, passions and for being unable to focus on one thing as I was expected to. Well to the dismay of my parents I decided to pursue a degree in Philosophy. Career outcomes were so insubstantial to them that they often told people I was studying to become a psychologist (slaps hand on face).

By the time I graduated, they had convinced me I’d wasted four years of my life. Although I contemplated an academic career I knew it wasn’t what they wanted. I had to make something of myself. Show them I was worth the investment. So in the final months of college I started working as a freelancer. I’d always been around computers, and it was all I’d ever seen my father do. With Internet emerging, and my DIY experience in building websites (hello 1998!), I landed a job as a freelance web project manager.

That first job turned into many other projects and clients, and eventually in me starting my own web agency. Although I’m proud of my accomplishments the truth is I pursued everyone else’s dream but my own.

Building a career that wasn’t meant for me turned the creative, multi-passionate big dreamer I was into a perfectionistic, people-pleasing workaholic.

The unhappiness I felt made me try harder. Always chasing the next thing, without taking a breath to enjoy what I’d already achieved. Or reflect on what I really wanted.

In 2010 I was forced to pause, and finally do some thinking.

I saw the dreams I’d been pursuing for what they were, and decided it was time for me. The problem was, I didn’t remember my dreams. They’d been buried so deep beneath everyone else’s that I couldn’t come up with a single idea.  

Because I couldn’t figure it out, I decided to just do something.

That let me back to creativity. Slowly at first, because making stuff was now so far out of my comfort zone. But as time went on, and I tried out new things, my creative multi-passionate self resurfaced.

Creativity was my way back to me. And to my big dreams.

I believe it can be yours too.

How do you nurture your creativity?

  • Try things out

It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you allow yourself to play. I’ve done everything from writing workshops, dancing and cooking classes, to screen printing, improv theatre, drawing retreats and piano lessons. Recently I’ve realized that I need at least one creative outlet a week in order to be happy. And the more I do, the easier it gets. Pick something, and just do it! Like I signed up for a 5-day theatre workshop (dipping sweat off forehead) just before finishing this post.

  • Let go of control

Creativity is a process that you can prepare for, but that you can’t control. There’s no way to know when you’ll have a creative spark, make something amazing or experience flow. Things simply unfold. This little perfectionist had to learn this the hard way. Not being able to create what I had in mind made me want to scream and run more than once. That’s what happens when you believe you have a say in the creative process. By letting go of control you’ll be able to create freely and to experience moments of pure bliss and freedom that will help you to believe in yourself and your dreams.

  • Make it a practice

Creativity is a muscle, you have to train it to make it work. Doing something creative once a year is better than doing nothing. But the effect won’t last long. That’s why you should make creativity part of your daily life. By doing something out of the ordinary regularly you’re strengthening your creative dream muscle. You realize that you can do much more than you think, that things aren’t that hard or scary after all. The more you do it, the more you’ll want it. So make sure to do something creative regularly, to challenge yourself to try unfamiliar things. It really helps to dream bigger. And – more importantly – to dream you.

 

If you want more Dream Bigger Tips, I’ve got great news for you! This tip is part of a series, you can find all entries here.

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