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How To Stay Creative

In the most recent edition of Wired Magazine, they declare that "Staying Creative" is the new 'in' thing when compared with "Becoming Happier" and "Getting Smarter." (page 52)

I agree that staying creative is what will allow you to keep your job or land a new one. In a knowledge economy, being (and staying) creative is an asset worth making sure is in your toolbox. Here are my quick thoughts on how to do that:

  • Read. Whether it's a magazine or a book, you need to take in new information and ideas in order to be able to come up with good ones of your own. The beautiful thing about this is that any reading is good reading. Pick up a novel, grab a magazine, or take a look at a newspaper. I try to read a book a week, but I usually fall short of this and manage 2-3 a month. But I also make sure to take time to read what's current: just today I sifted through the latest editions of Fast Company, Wired, Inc., and Forbes. I learned about ethanol, Internet radio, online privacy, why product design is important, Blade Runner, currency trading, and social networking for baby boomers.
  • Dream. There's no reason not to thing big and to dream about the next big thing. Leadership guru Robert K. Greenleaf said, "Nothing much happens without a dream. For something really great to happen, it takes a great dream." Taking time to think about something other than what you're eating for lunch later or how many emails are in your inbox will about you to think bigger and broader than the routine of your day might normally call for.
  • Share. As I sat in my favorite coffee shop reading the above magazines, I ran into a friend who was meeting a friend of hers to "talk about some far fetched idea I have." Third places are made for stuff like this. I've begun meeting every Tuesday at 8 AM with two friends who I consider big dreamers. We gather for an hour to simply talk about the big ideas we have and how some of all of them might come to pass. This chance to bounce stuff off one another is quickly becoming one of my favorite times of the week. Even if it looks like it's just a bunch of talking, it is really the stirrings of the next important idea.
  • Start. An easy immediate excuse not to implement any of the above is time. But, just like making a difference, staying creative can happen in five minute increments. I keep a book with me at all times in case I arrive somewhere early, find myself standing in line, or am left waiting for someone. Daydreams can also happen as you finish your lunch, and brainstorming sessions can happen in the break room, at the dinner table, or in an elevator. In fact, finding small pockets of time to stay creative is a way to stay creative all in itself.

Finding a paid gig as a full time dreamer is tough. But staying creative may be one way to make your current full time gig exciting and engaging. It also may be the clearest path to your next full time gig, which may be better than where you currently are.

This is a post in a series of "How To" pieces. You may also be interested in How to Tell Your Story to Generation Y and How to Be Remarkable.

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