Every one of us has the ability to creatively solve a problem or learn a new craft. We can come up with all sorts of ways to make something better or more productive. Like any other skill, creativity can be developed. Here are 5 ways I have used to get my creative juices flowing and make my satisfying retirement a daily adventure. Maybe one or more of them will help you feed your creative spirit and supercharge your internal idea machine.
A) Stretch Your Horizons. Stimulate your mind by doing things out of your comfort zone. Go to a museum you usually avoid. Listen to a type of music that normally isn't on your iPod. Visit web sites that present a point of view you don’t agree with. Pick up a magazine that covers a subject you are unfamiliar with. Stepping outside your usual behavior will energize your thought process.
For me, I respond best to the written word. So, on a regular basis I go to the bookstore and pick up two magazines from subjects I know little or nothing about, or ones presenting a different political perspective than mine. Also, I hunt out new blogs that are in subjects that have nothing to do with retirement. More often than you might think something I read on a random blog will spur a fresh thought for this blog or a way to spark up my life.
Betty and I became members of the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. At least once a month we spend an afternoon strolling among the cactus plants or trees, sitting by a fountain, having lunch, and people watching. Those few hours are just enough break in routine to make the rest of the day feel fresh.
B) Expand Social Interactions. Leave the iPad or smart phone for a while and go meet real people. The skills required to engage in small talk force you to think more deeply, listen more intently, and consider your response more thoroughly. People are highly unpredictable and often full of ideas you don’t have. Tap into that flow and see where it may take you.
This is a tougher one for me. Luckily at our new church I have become involved in several groups that have introduced me to new people. Every one has a fresh story to tell or insight on life, religion, and family that enrich me. I will freely admit, though, my social interaction isn't as open as I would like it to be. Maybe 2012 will be the year I take more risks in this regard.
C) Visit Web Sites Designed To Provoke. I have noted above I will visit web sites and blogs that present a different take on politics and our country's direction. But provoke also means to excite to some action or feeling. Sites like TED or iTunes offer hundreds of free video and lectures specifically designed to make you think. In TED's case many are under 10 minutes on almost any subject you can imagine. Again, I will choose a subject in which my knowledge is rudimentary at best. I may not like the talk, but all it costs me is 6 or 7 minutes. By forcing myself to do it I have accomplished one of the goals of creativity: taking a risk.
One of the new items I am adding to this blog are videos at the end of an occasional blog. Many will be from TED. I hope they add a little different feel to the posts and give you the chance to go a bit deeper into the subject I have chosen to write about.
D) Keep A Journal. When I wrote about journaling very early in this blog's life, the response was underwhelming. In further conversations with folks in my life journaling isn't even considered by many people for two reasons: few of use actually use pen and paper to write anything anymore, and the time required for introspection isn't available. Every one is just too busy.
I urge you to abandon the "common wisdom" and try it. I've kept journals on and off for decades. They aren't the diary-like "here’s what I did today” recap. They may be during a vacation, or often during a Bible study. When I found myself becoming kind of negative toward the state of the world or my place in it I have kept Gratitude Journals. Writing down two or three things I am thankful for that day goes a long way toward keeping my focus on the positive.
I guess it isn't technically a journal, but anything that stimulates an idea for this blog goes into a notebook. If I thought about the need to write close to 2,500 words a week with no outside inspiration I might freeze up! For me adding to a journal or notebook on a regular basis works my mind. Have you ever thought of giving it a try?
When you learn something new, or tackle a difficult problem, you feel alive. What you are feeling is the power of creativity. How do you stoke your creative fires? What are you doing to stay excited and engaged? Are you looking for something to give you that "I can't wait to get out of bed this morning" feeling? After all, retirement is only the beginning.
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