Maybe you have a tough negotiation coming up, a challenging work project, or questions about your career path.
What does it take to find the right solution, one that can solve whatever problem you’re facing?
We often associate creativity with the ability to make art.
“I’m not creative” was my favorite thing to say in college when I couldn’t design an exciting Powerpoint or come up with an out-of-the-box Halloween costume.
But creativity doesn’t just live in the arts. Creativity is simply coming up with new and original ideas. Can you think of a time when you’ve come up with a new approach to solve a problem? That’s creativity.
If you’re feeling additional pressure to solve a career dilemma — maybe you’re feeling stuck with your next steps, you’re spinning your wheels with your job search strategy, or you’re not sure how to find work you’re passionate about — I want you to read this article.
Here are three ways to boost your creativity so you can solve almost any problem and support your career journey.
Keep an open mind.
New ideas don’t always come from where we expect them. When Work Bigger member Ada Chen couldn’t find natural skincare products that fit her needs, she spent her summer researching and developing homemade remedies.
A few months later, not only did she have the solution to her skincare problem, she had a new business, Chaun Skincare.
It’s also allowed Ada to put her mission to use. “I’ve been able to bring my personal values, like transparency, sustainability, inclusion, and social justice, into how I create my products and how I’m building my brand,” she says.
Here’s a surprising example: Stephanie Burns, the founder of Chic CEO, looked for startup capital by auditioning for Wheel of Fortune. She made it on and was able to finance her business because of it.
“We can get so mired in the ‘traditional’ routes, we forget to look in the spaces between,” Stephanie said about the experience.
While game show prizes aren’t a very realistic resource, this is an excellent example of thinking outside of the box. What are some unexpected places you might be able to find what you need to solve your problem?
Flare then focus.
Taught in design thinking, flaring and focusing is about going broad, then getting specific.
If you’re struggling to figure out the next steps in your career, try this exercise.
Start by writing down everything on your mind or any ideas you’ve been exploring.
When making your list, defer judgment and go for volume. No idea is a bad idea.
Set a timer and see what you come up with in 20 or 30 minutes. Don’t hold back. Wild ideas are welcome and can present breakthroughs and inspire new ideas. Enjoy the process and give yourself permission to explore!
You can also invite a friend or two to join you in the brainstorming process. This way, you can build on each other’s suggestions.
Once you’ve laid out all your options, it’s time to start focusing. Choose five things to pursue or dig deeper with.
Take a break.
Sometimes we want to push ourselves to find the answer.
The award-winning inventor and color photography pioneer Frederic Eugene Ives always took a nap or found something interesting to do when he had a big problem to solve. A flash of insight or a new idea would usually follow.
Clearing your mind makes space for a new solution. Trust that it will come to you.
If you’ve been struggling for a while to figure out what you want to do next, take a break. Tap into anything that brings you joy or energizes you — maybe that means reading a book or starting a new hobby.
Doing something different will give your brain a rest, and it may also allow you to tap into a new insight.