As I mentioned in my last post on this topic, I used to feel so boxed in in my life.
I felt like creativity was stifled in my job and I was afraid to try new things in the rest of my life, too.
But once I felt I had permission to try out some creativity in my life, there was no turning back.
Little by little I grew in different areas of my life, and I’m still growing and enjoying my creative adventures today!
If you’d like the same, here are some steps and strategies to help you move past “same old, same old” and find some new great ideas–and even potential solutions for areas in which you feel stuck!
Be sure to download the free printable of the steps as well by signing up below, so you can put it up and follow the steps when you feel stuck. You’ll get the Passionfruitful Life Newsletter as well!
Steps and Strategies to Become More Creative
1. Silence Your Inner Critic
Often what prevents us from thinking of and trying out new ideas is our fears.
We are afraid of failing, of other’s opinions, and even of succeeding.
I get it.
But when you gently push back against your fears and give some little things a try, they may build your courage to try other ideas and others… until you are a creative machine!
I emphasize trying “little things”, because failure really can be discouraging-especially at the beginning. So if you can get some little successes under your belt, you may gain confidence to continue trying.
On the other hand, failure is something that WILL happen at some point (and often) as you continue your creative ventures.
It’s part of life and there’s no getting around it.
But when you try and don’t get the results you like, don’t think that YOU are a failure.
No, no, no!
You are a success because of stepping out of your comfort zone and giving something a try!
You are a success because you’ll learn from that failure, keep plugging on, keep learning, and keep trying again.
Failing means that you are brave and are on your way to succeeding in the area you are working on.
So, be willing to push past your fears just a little bit.
Stretch your creativity muscles by doing little projects (for you) first: … maybe thinking of a slightly different way to celebrate your birthday or planning a new activity to try with kids.
Hopefully you will find some great results, but even if you don’t, be proud of your efforts.
2. Find Encouraging People to Support/ Help You
When you venture into more creative ground, it’s good to find others who can support and encourage you.
We ALL need this and can’t do it alone.
We need people who have done similar things to give us empathy, people to give us tips, people to give us encouragement, people to pray for us, and people to be there when we have disappointments and can give a listening ear.
For example, if you want to run a creative fundraiser (a big goal, in my opinion) it’s probably good to find information from people who have been down that road before, and to find people who may want to help and encourage you.
These cheerleaders and helpers will help keep you motivated as you press through obstacles and endure the criticism of other less supportive people that may come into the picture (but try not to let yourself get bitter).
Some people just don’t like change… and at times it may be better not to ruffle their feathers too much.
If Great Aunt Joe doesn’t want to mess with Christmas traditions, perhaps leave it at that and change your own traditions rather than the whole family’s.
(On the other hand there may be times when a little feather-ruffling is okay. Pray for wisdom and try to do it with respect and thinking of the other’s point of view.)
It’s important to pick “safe” people who believe in you and will encourage you so that you will have courage to exercise those creative muscles rather than feel discouraged from doing it.
Sometimes we can learn from constructive criticism about how to do something better, or wisdom about when would be better timing.
But don’t take the criticism to heart –you are being courageous and trying something, while the criticizers are likely not. Hear the criticism; prayerfully adjust if needed, and then go to your encouraging peeps who will cheer you.
You might also want to try out some creative work just for your own eyes, at first.
Then as you feel more comfortable, you can branch out to show your team of encouraging people and get feedback, and then you may want to branch out further.
3. Write Tons of Ideas on Paper–Realistic or Not
The reason I encourage you to write so many ideas is because when we push ourselves in this way, we can often come up with ideas we never would have thought of at first. This is called brainstorming.
Even if some of the ideas sound crazy and undoable, they might inspire more realistic ideas and solutions you’ve never thought of.
And maybe those “crazy” ideas–with a little adjustment–might not be so crazy after-all…
I use brainstorming more often that mind-mapping currently, but both have been very helpful for me to get my ideas out on paper–and come up with some good ones! 🙂
4. Adjust and Choose a Doable Idea (or Two)
So the right side of the brain is often said to be the more creative side that’s good at coming up with ideas, but after you have a bunch of ideas on paper, it’s time to bring your left side in.
This side of the brain is better at analyzing what ideas will actually work and how to make them do so.
So after you’ve got all your crazy and more realistic ideas down, start to think about what might be doable at this time in your life.
Perhaps you can chase some of your ideas later when you’ve built your confidence or your circumstances lend themselves better to them.
On the other hand, maybe you want to write down that big goal and–even though it maybe be a long-term goal, you could begin with some baby steps towards it right now.
So if a “crazy” idea really appeals to you, perhaps you can think about how you might adjust it so it’s still appealing but more doable at this point.
For example, maybe you’d love to climb Mt. Everest, but you’ve never climbed ANY mountain.
Well, perhaps you could start by booking a trip to a climbing wall and take a mountain-climbing lesson. That could be your small-ish goal that will give you a feel for it and help you see if it’s for you.
(I would actually call this a large goal if you’ve never done something like that before, so if it is, maybe you’d break it down into even smaller goals, such as watching Youtube videos on climbing techniques).
5. Plan Out Next (Baby) Steps and …
So once you have an appealing goal or two written down, it’s time to break it into doable steps.
It’s really important at this stage to not make the steps very big at all.
Just like a little child can’t climb steps that are too high for him or her, you will get discouraged if your next steps are simply too big.
Choose super-small steps–even ridiculously small.
For example, maybe you want to one day do a series of teaching videos on a topic you love–such as building bird houses– but perhaps you have a fear of video cameras (I get that).
First, you might simply write: “Find 3 Youtube videos on building things out of wood.” Next, “watch the videos while taking notes”. And third, “review notes and think about what I’d tips I’d like to apply to my videos”…. etc.
Do you see how small we are getting here? And if this is too big, make them even smaller.
Write out the little steps and then after you’ve accomplished one of them, you have a “win” which will help motivate you to continue onto the next step.
6. Put Steps Into Action and Celebrate Each One
Your team of supportive people could be helpful at every step by giving feedback and encouragement, but it’s here in the Action Steps, you may need them the most.
Write the tiny steps and then celebrate your every step you take by encouraging yourself, sharing about it with one or more of your encouraging people, or (on occasion) going out for ice cream to celebrate your progress–even if it seems small!
If you are struggling, again share with your peeps, and encourage yourself for trying.
If you criticize yourself for stumbling or for not doing things perfectly, you are going to get demotivating and likely give up. So give yourself the credit you deserve for trying.
Even when things seem to fail massively, you are building your knowledge of what works and what doesn’t, your ability to persevere in adversity, and again, stretching those creative muscles so they become stronger.
You are building habits of courage, creativity, and hopefulness.
One day some of these steps won’t seem so difficult and you’ll be on to the next ones.
7. Re-assess As You Go Along Until You’ve Got Results You Really Like
Again– as I’ve been learning more and more–not always getting the results you want is normal and actually a growing experience.
As you struggle with various steps, think about what might need to be changed in order to make them easier.
Could you break down your steps into even smaller ones?
Is there someone who has done something similar who can give you suggestions?
Is there a blog or book that gives more information on how to do this?
I’ve heard it said that until we begin moving towards our goals, we often don’t realize how much learning is required to do them well–and that’s okay!
When you find out you need to learn more, start researching and learning from others who can teach you.
For example, f you give a speech and feel it didn’t go so well, don’t beat yourself up. You gave it a great effort. Now continue to learn from others about how to do better next time. And keep learning.
If you try to sell handmade items and no one buys them except your mom (hopefully)– don’t see yourself as a failure. Learn from others who have similar businesses or who teach others how to do so.
You don’t have to give up. You may be just a few steps from success.
Almost definitely those people who are teaching others now had their own huge struggles and stumbles at the beginning. And after persevering and learning from others, they now look as if everything is easy.
So keep re-assessing as you go along and one day you’ll be the one teaching others and encouraging them in their journey.
8. Pray All Throughout
This tip really should be at the beginning, but I didn’t want you to tune me out if praying doesn’t seem like your thing.
I really believe God wants to help you and I blossom in our creativity.
He wants to encourage us in our failures and struggles as he helps us gain strength and ability.
And He wants us to lead us to great ideas, people, and resources to help us.
Pray lots by yourself, but I also highly recommend praying with others who want to do that with you. You could pray for them, as well.
You’ll find that God is totally in this and that’s He’s cheering you on and helping you and guiding you as you go!
So keep persevering, and praying, and remembering not to do it alone.
You ARE creative, and you can make your creative dreams–little and big–happen.
Keep trying and soon you’ll feel more confident in your creative abilities and will be enjoying the results!
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