It’s easy to stay in your bubble. The same people at work, the same places to grab lunch and workout, and the same voices on the same podcasts playing on your commute. If we’re not intentional about adding variety in our lives, things tend to look the same day after day and year after year.
There’s nothing wrong with consistency or routine. However when you hit a creative rut, it can be difficult to pull yourself out of it when you do the same things repeatedly.
So how do you push through it? How do you prevent it from happening altogether? Here are five ways:
1. Give yourself permission to be short term.
For better or worse, we live in an all-or-nothing culture. Embrace a season of trying new things on purpose, without the pressure of a commitment.
For example, if you’ve always struggled to make working out a habit, don’t go to a gym and pay for a year-long membership because you feel like you need to. Instead, allow yourself to go on a workout class hunt and decide to try two new workout classes a week for the next three months to find something you love.
2. Consume new media.
Find a new magazine, blog, podcast, or book to read that focuses on something you know nothing about. Maybe you work in corporate leadership but you’ve always been intrigued by flying planes. Next time you’re browsing Amazon, pick up a book about piloting. Let your brain make connections. It was Steve Jobs who said creativity is connecting things.
3. Scout out new experiences.
There’s a reason why there are hundreds of quotes about leaving your comfort zone… because it’s true. It’s all too easy to only surround yourself with people, places, and things that are just like you.
Go somewhere you’ve never been before and look for new opportunities to broaden your experiences. You don’t need to become Walter Mitty, but you can opt for touring an office outside your industry, attending a public forum on a social issue, trying a new cuisine, or taking a cooking class.
4. Ask others what they’re learning.
One of the best ways to be inspired is to ask others what they’re learning. This happened to Shane when he was attending a professional event. He asked another attendee what they were learning and, to Shane’s surprise, the attendee replied he was learning how to grow sunflowers.
As it turns out, growing sunflowers is a long and intricate process. After a 45-minute conversation, Shane became an amateur sunflower expert. See? Learning is cool.
5. Embrace new technology.
Whatever pain point you’re experiencing right now, there’s an app for that.
Your phone is the key to thousands of apps that literally exist to make your life easier and more efficient. Use them. Knowing what technology is available to you, and using it well, will give you the slight edge on productivity and creativity you’ve been craving.
Finding inspiration and creativity is best accomplished when you step outside of your normal. So the next time you find yourself staring at a blank Word document, make the choice to get out of your comfort zone. Remember, friction creates spark.