By Tamara Martfeld
Creativity is a skill which is very important in challenging times. Through creativity one can find alternate solutions to difficult situations, discover innovative methods for completing tasks, and look in unusual places for answers.
When money is tight an alternate solution can reduce the cost of the activity. For example, many couples like to hire a babysitter and then go to dinner and a movie to keep in touch with each other. With money being tight that couple may decide that the only solution is to eliminate the night alone. A creative couple might talk to their friends and trade babysitting nights (for example, one couple baby-sits on Friday and the other couple baby-sits on Saturday) and eliminate the cost of the babysitter. They can then purchase take-out or cook an easy dinner at home, reducing or eliminating the extra cost for dinner. The movie can be rented, borrowed from a library, or simply re-watching a favorite movie already owned, again reducing or eliminating the cost. The couple might also decide to use the time alone for other activities. By creatively finding alternative solutions the date night can continue in spite of the money situation.
Discovering innovative methods for completing tasks can reduce the time it takes to complete a task, thus reducing the cost of completing the task, or lead to inventions which might bring in cash. The invention of the computer and improvements to this invention through the years are good examples innovation. Just think of everything currently being done on computers and what skills and activities it would require to do the same tasks without computers.
Looking in unusual places for answers may open ones mind to solutions not available in the “normal” places. Walt Disney is reported to have done this well. When he was working on a project he would ask everyone around him for their input, including the wait staff in restaurants. How many people would think to ask a stranger for a solution to a non-confidential work problem? Especially a stranger with no expertise in the field?
Creativity is important, but how do you become “creative”? In reality, you are probably already creative and have shut down that part of yourself. As a child you probably drew pictures, made up games, and created stories. When growing older you were probably told that you were silly, that your creativity did not meet some arbitrary standard, or to simply “grow up”. The part of you which created is still there, you just need to wake it up.
There are several methods for waking your creativity which are easy:
- Order something different in a restaurant, if possible, something you have never had before. This method helps to open the mind to new experiences. You may find a new favorite dish. I have discovered ways to add variety to my own cooking by seeing items paired I would never have thought to put together, such as fruit in a green salad.
- Take a new route home. Again, this will open the mind to new experiences. It will also expose your mind to new sites. The right route can also help you enjoy the beauty of the place you live. In my city the highway I normally travel is elevated on my route and all I can safely see is the tops of houses. By taking any number of the alternate routes I can see spring flowers, fall leaves, and occasionally beautiful birds. As an added benefit I also have known routes for when the highway is more like a parking lot than a road.
- Find a second, third, and fourth solution to any problems. It is rare for any problem to have only one solution. By forcing yourself to find more solutions you are forcing your brain to explore alternatives. One benefit may be that the extra solutions might be better than the first solution. Another benefit is that you have alternatives from which to choose, and alternatives if the chosen solution does not work as planned. Crazy solutions are just as important here as viable solutions – crazy solutions have been known to lead to the “best” solution with a little re-working.
These suggestions will help open your mind to different ways of thinking. The different ways of thinking will help wake up the creativity which is in you. Have fun while implementing the suggestions.