Everybody has a reason behind why they do what they’re doing. Even if you’re just sitting on the couch watching Netflix, you have a driving motivation (pleasure, relaxation, a desire to be distracted from something stressful, etc.). I used to think I was simply a creative person, and therefore doing creative things came naturally to me. Wrong! I am a creative person, but I need to be motivated to do creative things.
We need to find our reason.
Throughout my teenage years and early twenties, my motivation to be creative was to find a way to support myself while doing something I love – and I succeeded. But little by little, my employer took away the elements of my job that made it creative. It was ok, though; I remained creative as I planned my wedding after work hours. After I got married, my creativity was employed in setting up our home and pitching myself to employers to find steady work again.
Eventually, steady work came in the form of tech support. The creative extent of tech support is figuring out how to word your questions and explanations so that people understand. It’s been fun helping people overcome their technological needs, but over these months my creativity has waned. I don’t have a reason to use a lot of creative thinking during work hours and I haven’t had a good motivation to be particularly creative when my brain is tired out after work.
What are the motivations behind what you do (or don’t do)? Identify them.
We need to find our creativity.
I was scared to accept the job offer at first because I felt like I’d lost my creativity, but as I prepare to start my new job, I can feel that energy returning. It didn’t just show up like magic, though. I am constantly taking in content related to my field and putting myself in places that inspire me. I am re-reading old favorite books, I’m hanging out at my husband’s college campus where they have a million great study spaces, I’m treating myself to solo coffee dates at Barnes & Noble to browse their shelves full of ideas, I’m teaching myself ukulele again, and I’m getting re-involved in communities full of creative people. It’s been one week, and I am already feeling less daunted at the thought of being a career creative again.
What spaces, things, and people make you feel motivated and inspired? Find them and spend your time there.
We need to find a good boss.
I frequently doubt my ability to be creative on demand. I often have thoughts along the lines of “Are you really capable, Sarah?” While I don’t believe fully in the whole “If you can dream it, you can achieve it” mantra (realistic thinking and goal setting is important), I am realizing that negative self-talk is a legitimate problem. If you were mentoring someone or were in a management role, would you be creating a good atmosphere if you constantly told those around you things like, “That’s really hard, you might not be able to do it” or “The odds are against you. That’s why you’re failing”? No!
When you have to be motivated and inspired to do something, you are in a position of being your own boss. You can choose to create a good and positive work environment where you will thrive, or you can settle for constant put-downs that create a toxic workplace. I am quickly realizing, it is just as important to create a healthy work environment for yourself internally as it is to do so externally.
What kind of boss are you to yourself? Are you creating a positive work environment?
So how can I become creative?
- Observe yourself: figure out what does and does not motivate you to be creative.
- Identify the things/places/people that inspire you and purposefully let them saturate your life.
- Create a positive work environment. This can involve your physical workspace if aesthetics or ergonomics are important to you, but most importantly, you must work to improve your mental work environment.
- Be the best boss you can be. Allow your employee (YOU!) breaks, promote things that lead to good mental health, encourage making investment purchases (books, conferences, education, or even food) that will make your employee better and more motivated to work, and create the most positive work environment that you can. The most productive employees have the best work culture, after all!