Embracing a Monthly Creative Challenge
“I’ve signed us up for a pastel art class.”
My mom nodded along as I announced our next ‘creative adventure’ for us to do together.
“We might not be any good at it, but who cares?”
Some context: my mom and I recently agreed to carry out a monthly Creative Challenge where we immerse ourselves in something artistic and unknown to us. It started with a mother-daughter visit to a museum, noticing how energized we felt afterward by breaking our norm and doing something new. Then, it progressed to doing something entirely out of our comfort zone altogether.
I must admit – it is strangely freeing and fun to do something that you’re not good at or used to; something that you don’t hold any judgment for, don’t have any expectations of, and don’t care about how it turns out. This exercise also made me realize how powerful it felt to unlock a metaphoric hidden door of creativity within my brain.
Why you should do something you’re not skilled at.
In today’s fast-paced, results-driven world, it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget to set aside designated thinking time (as well as specified time to clear your mind, which can be just as valuable). We also have so many tools and resources at our disposal to learn and refine skills – and that’s wonderful – but it’s easy to fall into the habit of ONLY doing things you’re good at.
So, I’m here to remind you how doing something you’re NOT good at can benefit your brain.
Nurturing our creative side can help us think faster, smarter, and more efficiently overall, plus it is essential for our well-being. Tapping into your creativity can:
- Bring a sense of fulfillment to our lives: Creativity encourages us to think differently – and having a diversity of perspectives is incredibly important.
- Reduce stress and anxiety: When focused on creating, we are less likely to dwell on our current challenges.
- Increase self-confidence: Completing a creative project can boost your self-esteem and sense of accomplishment, especially if you learned a new skill in the process.
- Enhance problem-solving skills: Completing unfamiliar tasks can develop problem-solving skills by encouraging you to create innovative solutions.
So, I cordially invite you (and a plus-one!) to join me in this monthly Creative Challenge and commit to doing something new, artistic, and creativity-focused once a month.
Creativity is a muscle that needs to be exercised.
The more you use it, the stronger it will become. But where to begin? Even if you’re not doing the official monthly “Creative Challenge” outlined above, there are other ways to start warming up those muscles:
- Get something on the calendar: Even if it’s a couple of months out, schedule a dedicated time for this new creative activity (again, it must be something you’ve never done before or have very little experience doing). If it’s time-blocked out on your calendar, it’s more likely to happen.
- Set aside some “bonus” play time: In addition to the above, for at least 30 minutes three times a week, channel your inner child and do something like doodling, writing, playing music, or something similar.
- Engage in activities that stimulate your senses: Go for a quick hike or listen to new music. They even have these extraordinary “dining in the dark” experiences that you can try where you go out to eat blindfolded, which is said to elevate the taste of the food. Anything that targets one specific sense will do!
- Collaborate with others: Seek out new people for brainstorming sessions and bounce thoughts off them to work out challenges and see your ideas in a new light.
- Don’t be afraid to fail: Failure is a natural part of the creative process. For more on this, I highly recommend listening to the season one finale of the Local Wisdom podcast, “Why Does It Feel So Wrong To Be Human At Work?” – there is a whole episode on failure and why it’s crucial for success!
- Don’t compare yourself to others: Everyone expresses creativity in their own way. Go to new people for suggestions on things to try (which reminds me of this blog post we recently wrote on Fredenfreuede!), but don’t be intimidated if you don’t excel at it at their level, especially not right away.
- Keep a notebook or journal handy at all times: This way, you can jot down ideas as soon as they come to you. And for those of you who might do your best brainstorming while you’re in the shower, my colleague recommended getting a pack of these shower crayons so you don’t lose that excellent thought. (Shout out to Lauren Moran for this fantastic idea!)
- Sit and watch the world go by: Yes, literally. Sometimes, simply sitting on a park bench in public and doing absolutely nothing but observing your surroundings and thinking your thoughts will amaze you. There is beauty and inspiration all around.
The possibilities are endless.
So, since our pastel class, my mom and I have signed up for a ticket package at the local theater, we scheduled time to learn how to do pottery, got tickets to see the Rolling Stones when they come to Philadelphia, plan to attend a stand-up comedy show, and my personal favorite? We booked a trip to Italy to learn to make pasta from the pros. Now, that’s amore nella creatività!