Grab a piece of paper and write down ten things you have no interest in. Ask your kids to do this, too.
Are you finished? Ok. Here’s my list.
-watching car racing
-reading romance novels
-understanding international business
-watching horror movies
-writing a computer program
-making sales cold calls
-reading fashion magazines
-taking apart and putting together a TV
Now, pick one of those ten things and do it.
You’re probably thinking…Wait a minute. This is supposed to be a blog about following your interests. Now she’s telling me to do things I’m not interested in? And I’m supposed to ask my kids to do the same thing, too?
How will doing these things ever help me be more creative? Shouldn’t I spend the limited free time I have on creative projects I love?
While I think it’s important to spend most your time reaching a creative goal you’re passionate about, it’s also important to develop your creative muscles, too. And those muscles won’t grow when you use them doing the same thing in the same way all the time.
Take physical exercise as an example. You may choose to do a certain exercise routine because you want to reach a certain fitness goal. It could be reducing belly fat, becoming more flexible, or increasing arm strength.
After creating the ideal routine, you work hard to achieve your goal. After awhile you see progress. You’re encouraged and excited. But then you hit a plateau. Your progress is stunted.
It’s only by doing something different, by exercising new muscles, that you’ll increase your strength in muscles you focused on before. You’ll learn to use those old muscles in new ways. At the same time, you’ll also learn a new set of skills that will complement and enhance your old skills.
It’s the same way with creativity.
Creativity is all about combining things or ideas into unlikely combinations. It’s about gaining new perspectives and angles, about linking unlikely things together.
If you read the same types of things, think about the same types of things, and use the same types of skills over and over again, pretty soon it’s hard to think up new ways to create because you’ve exhausted your store of images, ideas and experiences.
You and your children need to surround yourself with new ideas and experiences, new ways of viewing the world. You need new skill sets that will complement and enhance the old ones.
It’s true that you can fill your creative well by pursing new ideas and experiences that you find interesting. It’s something that I like to spend a lot of time doing.
But by occasionally doing things we don’t find interesting, we also stretch our creative muscles.
When we deliberately do something we find boring or uninteresting, we tend to let our minds wander. We want to be anywhere else but in the moment.
Fight that urge. Be in the moment. Let yourself really experience what you’re doing, or watching, or reading. Make time to reflect on your experience.
This past week I finished reading a book by Richard Parkes Cordock called The Millionaire Upgrade. In the book, he talks about the importance of doing something every day that makes you uncomfortable. The chapter focuses on how true growth only comes when you move outside your comfort zone.
The things we’re not interested in usually fall outside our comfort zone. Usually this is because we’re unfamiliar with them, have some experience with them but it’s been negative, or we let the negative experience of others shape our opinions.
By developing the habit of doing uncomfortable things or spending some time learning or doing things we’re not interested in doing will help stretch us as human beings. It will broaden our perspective on life, teach us something about how we handle discomfort, and fill our creative buckets with skills, images and ideas that we’d never encounter otherwise.
I’m not at all suggesting that you shouldn’t spend a good portion of your time accomplishing dreams and goals that excite you. Nor am I suggesting that kids should spend the majority of their days learning and doing those things that they dread doing, either.
I am suggesting to occasionally do something you wouldn’t normally choose to do. Approach it in a positive way. Learn everything you can from it. Then take those thoughts, ideas and skills and see if you can approach a creative project in a new way.
Let your kids see you do this.
Talk to them about how those experiences have changed you and given you new creative insights.
Encourage them to pursue something they’ve found uninteresting.
Challenge them to use that experience to deepen their personal creative goals.
Photo Credit: Dione_Higgs
What’s one thing you’re uninterested in that you could learn or do this week?
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