How great would it be if our creative ideas just flowed constantly like water? For most of us, though, we will at some point get stuck in a creative rut; you know that feeling where you’re frustrated, bored, and lacking new and stellar ideas.
A creative rut is often the result of not being stretched or challenged. “A primary human need is to learn and grow,” says Ben Renshaw, author of Purpose: The Extraordinary Benefits of Focusing on What Matters Most. Lacking the opportunity to evolve can leave our creative muscle feeling flabby. To flex your creative side again and get out of your rut, try these six simple strategies.
1. Tap into Your Purpose
Your purpose is your primary source of energy and inspiration. It can also be called your Big Why. Renshaw suggests identifying the times when you’ve felt most satisfied and at your peak performance in order to discover your purpose. Maybe that’s working with children, or a time when you were working on a particular project. Discovering your purpose can help you to light that creative spark inside you.
2. Learn Something New
A creative rut is often caused by feeling bored or stagnant. Learning something new, either by taking a course or watching a Youtube video on a topic unrelated to your work, can help you to dig out of your rut. Take on a challenging project at work to stretch your potential and allow yourself to learn new skills.
3. Make the Decision that You Are Creative
To get out of a creative rut, you need to take action. “You can’t just sit around waiting for your creative juices to kick in, says Renshaw. Get into the mind-set that you are creative. You could state it out loud or write down statements such as “I am a creative person” and “I hear creative ideas.” Repeat these statements, and set your intentions to ignite your creative flow.
4. Adjust Your Surroundings
Redecorating your office space to include visual reminders about the power of creativity can help you to get out of a creative rut. Renshaw speaks of one leader he coached who redecorated his bland office space in vibrant colors and put up a huge sign saying “Make It Happen” to help stimulate creative flow.
5. Schedule Creativity Dates
“Creativity doesn’t just happen. You need to deliberately nurture it by giving your creativity time and space to grow,” says Renshaw. While some people may need solitude to unleash their creativity, others find creative stimulation through interaction with others. Schedule a minimum of one hour a week to have a creative date, either with yourself or with others, depending on how your creative spark gets ignited. If you prefer solitude, take a notebook to a café and try some creative writing or visit a museum to get inspired by art if that triggers your creative muscle. If you’re inspired by others, get together with a group of colleagues or friends with the intention of brainstorming.
6. Get Out of Character
Creativity doesn’t come from doing the same things the same exact way. When we do the same things again and again, boredom can set in and get in the way of your creativity. Think about the things you do the same way every day–your commute to work, how you take your coffee, the time you wake up–and change things up. Get up a half hour earlier, try a different coffee blend, drive a new route to the office. Strike up a conversation with someone you’ve never spoken with before. If you usually listen to pop music, try listening to jazz. Getting a little uncomfortable, even in small ways, can help you to spark your creativity.