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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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Michelle Millis Chappel

Princeton Ph.D. in psychology, world-acclaimed singer-songwriter, speaker, coach, and author

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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