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22 Reasons People with Creative Outlets are More Likely to be Successful

22 Reasons People with Creative Outlets are More Likely to be Successful

Did you know that having fun leads to greater success? Research at San Francisco State University shows that people who have creative outlets outside of work perform better at their jobs. And businesses based on personal pastimes are more likely to turn a profit.

In my workshops I’ve found that expressing ourselves creatively isn’t just about making art. It can also include such hobbies as gardening, fashion, cooking, running, playing hockey…whatever you tend to lose yourself in which brings joy and meaning to your life.

So prepare to be happy and thrive. Here are 22 reasons people with creative outlets are more likely to be successful and you can do it, too.

1. You’re refreshed and more productive

Who can afford to take breaks these days, we’re all so busy, right? But even billionaire Richard Branson, who is responsible for running over 400 companies under the Virgin brand, makes time for kite-boarding. A study shows that taking breaks leads to greater productivity and a higher quality of work. Artistic expressions such as writing and drawing also increase energy and focus. If you want to get more work done in less time, try picking up a surfboard or a paintbrush.

2. You’re happier and more engaged

Having creative outlets lowers stress, increases happiness, and gives us a sense of purpose, which makes us more effective at our jobs. We get better evaluations from managers and customers, and show more helpful behavior at work. That’s a pretty important finding given that only 13% of employees worldwide like their jobs. If you want to experience greater well-being and success in your career, put a date on your calendar to play soccer or practice your drums.

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3. You come up with new ways to do things

In the early years of Microsoft, co-founder Paul Allen picked up his guitar at the end of marathon days of programming. He still plays in a rock band today. “It forces me to look beyond what currently exists and express myself in a new way.” The same is true for you. People with creative pastimes are more likely to come up with creative solutions to work-related problems. If you’re looking for inspiration, try doing something you love to unwind.

4. You make space for breakthroughs

Have you ever noticed how solutions to problems tend to pop into your mind out of nowhere when you’re engaged in your hobby? Albert Einstein is thought to have developed the theory of relativity while riding his bicycle. Research at Stanford shows that walking in particular boosts creative thinking. Will Ferrel, who ran marathons while he was part of the cast of Saturday Night Live, noted, “Whenever I’d run, I’d get these great ideas. I love what running does for your mind.” Carve out some space in your day for yoga, swimming, drawing…and watch the creative ideas flow effortlessly.

5. You discover and develop your unique talents

Walt Disney began drawing pictures at the age of four and kept refining his childhood love of doodling until it turned into a multi-billion dollar business that’s still thriving today. Like Walt, you have a unique gift. Sometimes your special abilities are hard to see, though, because they come so easily. How can you compare yourself to others to find out what talents are natural to you? Make a commitment to develop your innate potential and you will excel.

6. You know how to get in the zone

Meryl Streep knits “to clear her head” on set. By putting herself in the moment she’s able to access powerful acting impulses. What puts you in the groove? It could be sewing, dancing, playing sports—whatever makes time disappear for you. When you’re in flow you do your best work, and the positive effects spread to everything you do.

7. You overcome setbacks and obstacles

Having hobbies makes us more resilient in the face of adversity. Oracle founder Larry Ellison says that sailing competitions help him push through his limits and develop a winning mindset. Research shows that simply writing about your difficult experiences heals you physically and mentally and enables you to persevere. When you have a hobby, you’re more likely to find a way around roadblocks and keep going.

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8. You carry your personal accomplishments to work

Side projects boost your self-confidence and give you greater life satisfaction. Whether it be finishing a painting, running a marathon, or finding another piece for your owl collection, you prove to yourself you can reach your goals and that sense of accomplishment carries over to work.

9. You trust your gut and act on it

After Apple founder Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College, he stuck around to study calligraphy. It gave him an aesthetic sense that still distinguishes Apple products today. We all have powerful hunches, but we learn to censor them out of fear and the need to fit in. Following your passion helps you hear your intuition more clearly and act on it.

10. You see the world through fresh eyes

My friend Peggy Monahan, Creative Director at the New York Hall of Science, builds incredibly cool exhibits that draw huge crowds. She attributes her success to being forced to constantly learn new things, dubbing herself “a professional novice.” Next time you feel stuck, try learning something new, like playing guitar or handball. Or see your product or service through your customers’ eyes. You’ll come back to work with a fresh perspective and find new solutions to old problems.

11. You blur the line between work and play

Some of the best ideas come from fusing work and play. Chuck Hebestreit played guitar at night to unwind from his day working at Gore and Associates (best known for producing Gore-Tex). When he noticed finger oil deadened the strings, two coworkers helped him solve the problem by coating the strings with a polyweb (launching Elixir Strings). I’ve given many innovation workshops at high tech companies that initially hired me to do research. What passion would you bring into work if you could?

12. You recognize and seize opportunities

If you’re an entrepreneur looking for the next big idea, your hobby could give you a clue. Jim Jannard noticed the handlebars on his motorcycle got slippery when he sweated and designed a better grip. He founded Oakley, which today produces a wide variety of sports equipment and eyewear. What about you? Is there an everyday problem you encounter in your side project that could turn into a winning book, song, or product? Get deeply, intensely curious and see what you can cook up.

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13. You see the bigger picture

Mistakes sometimes turn into popular products when we see the bigger picture. Spencer Silver tried to make a stronger glue at 3M but failed because his adhesive was weak. Four years later his colleague, Arthur Fry, had an “a-ha” moment while singing in church. Frustrated that the marker kept falling out of his hymnal, he realized his friend’s weak glue would solve the issue. Together they created Post-it Notes. Initially, penicillin and chocolate chip cookies were accidents, too. How does your life outside of work help you see possibilities that others don’t?

14. You believe the whole is greater than the sum of its parts

When you live in two worlds, you can bring them together in ways that spark cool ideas that are greater than the sum of its parts. Beto Perez was a fitness instructor in Columbia who forgot his aerobics music for class one day and ran back to his car to grab whatever music he could find from his personal collection, which was mostly merengue and salsa. This started the fitness craze we now know as Zumba. How can you merge your passion with your job to create a synergistic effect?

15. You become a solid team player

Many skills cross over from your creative outlets to your job. For example, according to Judd Hollas, CEO of EquityNet, “A football player and his fellow teammates sacrifice for each other for the common good of the team. Business is the same way. Teamwork and camaraderie are what drive success in business.” If you play on a sports team in your off-hours, you’ll naturally be a better team player at work.

16. You develop a good sense of timing

When you develop the ability to do things at exactly the right moment from your creative outlets, it transfers to your work. Scott Picken, CEO of Wealth Migrate, says kitesurfing is just like running a business because it gives you good timing. “You have to wait for the right time to launch. When you’re riding the waves, you must also be on a constant lookout for changes in the environment.” How does your passion project (e.g., fishing, playing bass, performing standup comedy) help you fine-tune your timing?

17. You learn to think on your feet

In my improv classes I learned to trust the first thoughts that pop into my mind and run with them, which makes me be a better speaker, performer and author. Peter Diamond, author of Amplify Your Career, says tennis helps you “to be fully present, able to think on your feet, and change tactics if needed. These same skills are necessary for running a successful business.” What about you? How does your side project help you improvise in other parts of your life and work when necessary?

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18. You keep your mind sharp

Business magnate Warren Buffet stays sharp at age 84 by playing ukulele and online bridge. Research shows that having hobbies bolsters cognitive functioning, stems the advance of dementia, and allows us to live more vibrant lives by increasing our brain connectivity. What hobby can you engage in to keep you on top of your game? If you don’t have one yet, no worries. Constantly learning new things improves your brain health.

19. You are more vital, healthier, and live longer

Many successful people stay fit through physical activities such as swimming (Beyonce) and kitesurfing (Richard Branson). But artistic hobbies like writing and painting are also good for your physical health because they boost your immune system, reduce the symptoms of diseases, and increase longevity. You take fewer sick days and are more vital at work. So next time you’re too tired to play tennis or practice your violin, remember that not only will you feel better afterwards, but you’ll live a healthier and more successful life.

20. You inspire and support others

Oprah loves to read books because they inspire and challenge her, and then shares the books that make a difference to her with her audience. It’s a simple and powerful way to give back. Whenever I learn something new about innovation I always try to include that little tidbit in my next talk, workshop, or blog. What creative outlets do you have that could help others? Spreading joy is one of the most rewarding things you can do with your life.

21. You discover catalyzing career clues

If you’re ho-hum about your career, your hobby may provide clues about what you really want to do with your life. Terry Finley felt unfulfilled selling life insurance, but loved horses. In 1991 he bought his first horse, Sunbelt, for $5,000. He later attracted investors and eventually ended up with 55 horses and a revenue of $6.5 million annually. How can you turn your hobby into a job? Perhaps you can teach what you love to do, speak or write about your hobby, or repair cherished items.

22. You do it for the love

Businesses based on hobbies are more likely to turn a profit because these entrepreneurs don’t do it for the money. They persevere during tough times, even if they don’t make money initially, because they love what they do. Today more people are entrepreneurs than ever before. If that lifestyle also appeals to you, ask yourself how you can you turn your hobby into a business you love.

Don’t worry. Your hobby can stay a hobby. No matter whether you work a 9-to-5 job or you’re an entrepreneur, having a creative outlet feeds your soul and helps you stay fresh and inspired. When you do something you love you’re energized, happy, and focused, and it rolls back positively into your work and all aspects of your life, including your relationships. So the next time you’re afraid to take some time off to have fun and express your unique self because you think it’ll hurt your career, remember that the opposite is true. Start writing or running again, or learn something new. You’ll be happier, healthier, and more successful as a result.

Featured photo credit: smiling young woman using a camera to take photo outdoors at the park/michaeljung via shutterstock.com

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Dr. Michelle Millis Chappel

I'm a psychology professor-turned rock star who has helped thousands of people create successful meaningful lives by using their superpowers.

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

Have you ever thought of yourself as a problem solver? I’m guessing not. But in reality, we are constantly solving problems. And the better our problem solving skills are, the easier our lives are.

Problems arise in many shapes and forms. They can be mundane, everyday problems, or larger more complex problems:

What to have for dinner tonight?

Which route to take to work?

How to fix a project that’s running behind schedule?

How to change from an uninspiring job to a career you’re really passionate about?

Every day, you’ll be faced with at least one problem to solve. But it gets easier when you realize that problems are simply choices. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about them other than having to make a decision.

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No matter what job you’re in, where you live, who your partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems. Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle. So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you. Everyone wins.

Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important?

Problem is something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with. It can be a task, a situation, or even a person. Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems.

Problem solving is important because we all have decisions to make, and questions to answer in our lives. Amazing people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are all great problems solvers. Good parents, teachers, doctors and waiters all have to be good at solving different sort of problems as well.

Problem solving skills are for our everyday lives.

How to Enhance Problem Solving Skills

Most people believe that you have to be very intelligent in order to be a good problem solver, but that’s not true.

You don’t have to be super smart to be a problem solver, you just need practice.

When you understand the different steps to solve a problem, you’ll be able to come up with great solutions.

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1. Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem

Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.[1] This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

2. Adapt 5 Whys to Clearly Define the Problem

5 Whys is a problem solving framework to help you get to the root of a problem.

By repeatedly asking the question “why” on a problem, you can dig into the root cause of a problem, and that’s how you can find the best solution to tackle the root problem once and for all. And it can go deeper than just asking why for five times.

For example:

If the problem is “always late to work”…

  • Why am I late to work?
    I always click the snooze button and just want to go on sleeping.
  • Why do I want to go on sleeping?
    I feel so tired in the morning.
  • Why do I feel tired in the morning?
    I slept late the night before, that’s why.
  • Why did I sleep late?
    I wasn’t sleepy after drinking coffee, and I just kept scrolling my Facebook feed and somehow I couldn’t stop.
  • Why did I drink coffee?
    Because I was too sleepy at work in the afternoon, not having enough sleep the night before.

So there you see, if you didn’t try to dig out the root of the problem, you may just set a few more alarms and have it beep every five minutes in the morning. But in fact, the problem you need to solve is to quit Facebook surfing endlessly at night so you’ll feel more energetic in the day time, and you won’t even need coffee.

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3. Simplify Things

As human beings, we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it.

Remove all the details and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

4. List out as Many Solutions as Possible

Try to come up with ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions.

Coming from 10 years in the corporate advertising industry, it is drummed into you that ‘No idea is a bad idea’ and this aids creative thinking in brainstorms and other problem-solving techniques.

Whatever you do, do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

5. Think Laterally

Change the ‘direction’ of your thoughts by thinking laterally. Pay attention to the saying,

‘You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.”

Try to change your approach and look at things in a new way. You can try flipping your objective around and looking for a solution that is the polar opposite!

Even if it feels silly, a fresh and unique approach usually stimulates a fresh solution.

6. Use Language That Creates Possibility

Lead your thinking with phrases like ‘what if…’ and ‘imagine if…’ These terms open up our brains to think creatively and encourage solutions.

Avoid closed, negative language such as ‘I don’t think…’ or ‘But this is not right…’.

The Bottom Line

There’s nothing scary about a problem when you start to adapt my advice.

Try not to view problems as ‘scary’ things! If you think about what a problem really is, it’s really just feedback on your current situation.

Every problem is telling you that something is not currently working and that you need to find a new way around it.

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So try to approach problems neutrally – without any judgment. Practice focusing on defining a problem, keep calm and not to make things too complicated.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Planet of Success: Problem vs Solution Focused Thinking

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