There’s something about starting a new year that is invigorating. You have a clean canvass upon which to create a masterpiece. But if you remain mired in your old ways of thinking, instead of a masterpiece you may wind up with a boring copy of years past.
As a history major, I understand the past is a great teacher. We learn from our experiences and they can serve as a solid base upon which to build. However, as they say, “If you keep doing the same things, you’ll keep getting the same results.” And in today’s dynamic, rapidly changing marketplace, you’ve got to be willing to shake things up a bit.
No 1: Change Your Routine. To get your creative juices flowing, start by changing your routine. Have you ever been driving somewhere and suddenly realized you’ve zoned out and are functioning on auto-pilot? That happens in our businesses too. That’s because most of us do basically the same scheduled routine everyday.
No. 2: Start Something New. Try adding something new to your life. It can be something as simple as listening to a new type of music, or it might be as daring as taking up skydiving. Pulling yourself out of the rut of life, allows your mind to engage in new ways. It sort of wakes up your brain cells and helps you gain new perspectives.
No. 3: Start an “idea” book. I don’t know about you, but I often come up with great ideas for my business in the middle of the night or other odd times. Unfortunately, if I don’t write them down soon they are soon forgotten. So buy yourself a small notebook or use a mobile application to keep track of your ideas. (I use Evernote.) Encourage your team to do the same. Then dedicate a staff meeting or group gathering to share your thoughts. Have fun with it and make everyone feel safe about sharing. You never know when someone may have the ground-breaking “crazy” idea that could be a home-run for your business.
No. 4: Schedule “thinking” time. What time of day are you the most creative? For me it’s in the early morning. Dedicate time in your schedule for creative thinking. You may have to remove yourself from your normal work environment so you won’t be interrupted. But if you don’t schedule the time, most likely it will never happen.
Don’t think you are a creative type? Nonsense. All of us are creative in unique ways. Creativity is the ability to think in new ways. In today’s competitive business world, if you aren’t constantly innovating you’ll wind up as yesterday’s news.
Tapping into your creativity and that of your team can help you start the new year with revved up energy. As Franklin Roosevelt said, “Happiness is not the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”
This opinion column was written by New York Times bestselling author and small business consultant Susan Solovic.