Several years ago I featured a post from Angelita Williams. She wrote about the importance of creativity during all stages of our life, but especially during retirement. For whatever reason, recently I have experienced a burst of fresh creative energy that is opening up some new experiences and areas of growth. So, it seemed logical to revisit a sampling of her thoughts and see how they fit what I am going through.
After years of tedious and difficult work in the same career or job field, our capacity for creativity can diminish. This is not to say that doing the same type of work throughout your whole life ruins your creative edge, it's just likely that your creativity becomes narrowed and specialized to your specific area of work and thinking.In my case, absolutely. I was so focused on building and growing my business, then maintaining it for as long as possible, that creativity was limited to business-oriented thoughts. That wasn't bad, but too small a box for what might have been possible.
Creativity is one of the most powerful tools we as human beings possess. The power to think and create beyond our own immediate knowledge and existence is a very useful and invigorating thing. One of the luxuries that retirement can offer is the time and inspiration needed to rekindle your creative state of mind. While it can be a challenge to step into the world and mindset of creativity again, it can also be one of the most rewarding activities you have.Again, Yes. Angelita has described what happened within a few years of leaving full time employment. In my case, I took my consulting experience and applied it to other teaching-type activities: lay minister, prison ministry, and teaching Junior Achievement classes. After years in radio, becoming involved in ham radio seemed a natural. Then, blogging allowed my need to write to be expressed.
However, as Ms. Williams points out in her next section, I wasn't trying new things or reaching for new parts of me. Teaching is what I had done for several decades. Was there any other way to push my creativity in new directions?
It is only through experiencing new things that we can engage in new avenues of creative thinking. Take on new experiences, visit new places, try things you've never done before—these things can help to spark some new line of thought that only that new sensation can inspire.
If coming up with new things to do is a challenge, going back to things and places from your past can be a good place to start. Revisit things that used to inspire and motivate you that you lost the time or place for in the working world. By revisiting these old interests and passions, you can rediscover why those things inspired your creative energy.I have been starting and stopping guitar for quite some time. I'd get to a certain point, then stop. Music has always been an important part of my life but I couldn't break through this barrier.
Then, a friend told me about an online guitar course he had discovered two years earlier that really excited him. Besides being free, the lessons are all available on both this fellow's web site and Youtube. Each takes a bite-sized step forward until you are feeling definite progress and playing songs.
I am about 5 weeks into Justin's (justinguitar.com) course and making more progress in feeling confident in my chord playing than I have in years.
Next, the author suggested observing creativity in others. I had marveled at my wife's creativity vin the visual arts for all our married life, but assumed that was a type of creative outlet that was not on my horizon.
Submerging yourself in their world of creativity is bound to arouse some creative juices of your own. Spend time with creative people—writers, artists, musicians—and take in their work and their spirit. While this may sound a bit hard to accomplish, it really is a great way to awaken your creativity.I was cleaning out some attic space and uncovered some of the paintings my father had produced in the last decade of his life. He had never shown any interest or artistic bent before, but something made him pick up brushes and a canvas. Now, I had a motivation. Betty had shown me how an artist worked, and my dad showed me what was possible.
What many people fail to realize (or at least fail to reveal) is that much of our creativity comes from seeing the creativity of others and mimicking it. Finding inspiration from the creative masters is just another method for tapping into your own more original ideas.
I found years of Bob Ross videos (his happy clouds and powerful palette knife!) on YouTube. Betty convinced me to give it a try. Bob Ross made it seem doable. So, I bought some paints, brushes, canvas and other tools of the trade. Covering the dinette table in drop cloth, one morning a few weeks ago I gave painting a whirl.
Well, my sky is greenish, my trees an unnatural shade of red, and water has never looked less wet. Even so, I enjoyed it! Betty gave me ideas to practice my color blending and how to use the palette knife. On video, Bob Ross continued to believe that a true artist is hidden (apparently very deeply) inside me.
The point of these examples is not to pass myself off as a Renaissance man, giving da Vinci a run for his money. Rather, I hope it gives you some encouragement to try something new, something that you don't believe you have the ability to pull off.
My painting "career" might last only as long as my $150 worth of oil paints and canvas. I may find the experience interesting, but not my thing. Then, again, my dad might have passed on something to me that just needed a chance to blossom. Betty has promised I can put one of my paintings in the living room if I am comfortable with it (it won't be the one above).
Then, as I am gazing at my landscape, maybe I'll break into an extended guitar jam with my new-found ability to change chords without looking at my fingers!
Retirement is a journey that can take us down unexpected paths to uncharted destinations. We only have to have the little bit of courage it takes to try something new. If we fail, we are exactly where we were before we tried. If we succeed, we will have to explain that big smile on our face to everyone we meet.