November 21, 2011

The Core of Retirement Creativity

The core of creativity is a sense of curiosity. Without wondering  how things work, how something is made, or how to improve a task, creativity isn't needed. Curiosity is what pushes you to learn something new or try a different way of solving a problem on your journey to your satisfying retirement.

It can be as simple as wondering what would happen if you added rosemary and salsa to the recipe, or tried to grow a tomato in a pot on the porch. It could be as as complicated as building a kiln and learning how to fire pottery. It could be as mundane as finding a new way to organize your daily chores so you finish sooner.

The point is creativity covers virtually every aspect of our life. Only when we construct a comfort zone and place a wall around our ideas does creativity stop.Then you meet no new people, you experience no new sensations, and you try no new way to solve a problem. At that point what happens is your life begins to die just a little every day.

Author Jordan Ayan in his book, Aha! uses a strong image to describe the curiosity that is the driving force behind creativity. He says to think of a funnel. Through the hole at the bottom of the funnel flows what you know. The main body of the funnel holds what you know you don't know. Finally, above the top of the funnel lies what you don't know you don't know. That is the part you explore when you become curious. 

There are several characteristics a curious person possesses. The first is openness. This is the willingness to respect something new and accept a different way of doing something. It is being open to new people, thoughts, and things. Another important characteristic is the ability to accept ambiguity. If an answer to a problem or a fresh idea isn't immediately available, a curious person is OK with that. The lack of certainty is the opening for creativity to begin.

The acceptance of risk is important. This isn't the type of risk involved in betting everything on a spin of the roulette wheel, or jumping out of a third story window to see what happens. It means being OK with failure. It means risking that you might look less than perfect. It also means taking the risk that you will discover something new and exciting. Another quality of the curious is energy. Mr. Ayan talks about not just the physical energy to work at a task. There is the mental energy to think through a problem or confront something unknown. There is the energy of passion that drives you forward.

Optimism is a characteristic that I believe to be essential. This is the belief that whatever is being done will ultimately pay off. While failure may happen again and again as new ideas are explored, that is OK. Each wrong approach gets you closer to the right one. Even if the entire experience does not end in the result you want the process was still rewarding. That is optimism. The exciting thing about discovering your own creativity is once you start it is almost impossible to stop. Each new discovery opens up a new inspiration or approach. Each step forward makes it easier to take the step after that. Creativity begins to feed on itself.

....this is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of my e-book, Building a Satisfying Retirement: How to Make the Most of This New Stage of Your Life. There are eight chapters full of practical, actionable information, whether you are a few years away from retirement, or have already started this exciting new phase of life.

I ask that you consider buying a copy for yourself, or someone else, this holiday season. The book is available through Amazon by clicking here.

Don't worry if you don't own a Kindle. A free reader for your PC can be downloaded here. Apps for your iphone and Android phones are also available at no cost.

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