Thinking outside the box is cool and all… but what if you suck at it?

March 02 2016

Thinking outside the box is cool and all… but what if you suck at it?

There are lots of box thinkers. The box is so warm and cozy and safe, but big ideas can’t grow in a tiny box. So if you’ve got ambitions to do something great- whatever that may be- you’ve gotta leave the box. But how?

Creativity is key. If you aren’t already a creative person, you may think that’s it. You’re done. It’s not in the cards for you.

Humans (and possibly other living things… not sure) like to define themselves as one or two things and then live lives based on those notions of themselves. For example: “I’m the artsy, creative-type.” “I’m the numbers person.” “I’m the sexy, dummy.” What a waste, though. Stop underestimating yourself. You can be lots of things. Be all the things! If all goes well, you have a long life to learn new skills and expand the definition of yourself.

I personally experienced one such redefinition of myself. By high-school, I had firmly defined myself as the artsy hippie. After college, though, I needed a change. I was hungry to learn something new so I impulsively decided to learn web development. I had forgotten what math and science even were by that point in my life, and yet I dove on in and joined a software development bootcamp. Three intense months later, I had attained a new skill and I saw a significant shift in the way I solved problems and viewed the world. It was an incredibly useful and unanticipated result of broadening my skillset.

So if creativity is not a strength you possess, it’s time to make it one. And here’s how.

Step 1: Discover what creative outlet vaguely interests you.

Your hobbies and interests may not have an obvious creative component, but I guarantee there is something you do that lends itself towards creativity.

Maybe you take in-depth notes in meetings because writing things down helps you process. Well, try some creative writing. Maybe you doodle while you work. Cool. Put some time and effort into sketching and doodling in your free time. Maybe you read a lot of “How to” books. Great. Now try expanding your reading material. Read some fiction or poetry. Maybe you’re a foodie. Start cooking and work towards inventing your own dishes.

Step 2: Don’t get pissed.

You probably are not going to be very good at whatever you decide to try. You actually may be quite terrible. Stretching those imaginary boundaries you’ve placed around yourself will be uncomfortable. You’re going to feel weird. You may get pissed.

But remember, that’s what growing feels like. When you feel like quitting, push harder.

Step 3: Give yourself a goal.

To help yourself not quit, give yourself a real-life goal. For example: “I’m going to read 3 novels this month.” or “I’m going to submit a poem to a literary magazine.” or “I’m going to cook a 3 course meal of dishes I invented for my family.” Having something specific you are working towards makes this process a thousand times easier. Otherwise, you feel a bit like you’re flailing around without a purpose.

Step 4: Remember why you’re doing this.

Give your goals purpose. This can be a frustrating process because it doesn’t feel directly related to the greater goal of learning to think outside the box. Remember, though, that you need to shake up that brain of yours. Brains are magnificent in their abilities to adapt and learn new things, but they need some cajoling to get out of their daily routine. These simple exercises in creativity will do just that for you.

Remember, though, that you need to shake up that brain of yours. Brains are magnificent in their abilities to adapt and learn new things, but they need some cajoling to get out of their daily routine. These simple exercises in creativity will do just that for you.

Thanks for reading 🙂 This post was written by Katlyn Whittenburg, Social Media Manager at Lamp Post Group. Follow her on twitter @KatlynWrites.
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