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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

Can I Be Creative?

The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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How Creativity Works

Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

What Really Is Creativity?

Creativity Needs an Intention

Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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Creativity Is a Skill

At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

Start Connecting the Dots

Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Set Long Term Goals and Reach Success

How to Set Long Term Goals and Reach Success

Have you ever wondered what you life is going to be like in 5 or 10 years? Will you be doing the same things you are today? Will you have the same job, the same apartment, the same car?

There are only three possibilities for your life in the future:

  1. It will be the same.
  2. It will be worse.
  3. It will be better.

There really is no other choice, so realizing this, which option will you choose?

If you choose #1 or #2, then you can stop reading now, there is no need to set any long term goals for your life. You are, in effect Alice at the fork in the road.

“One day, Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

It really doesn’t matter which path you choose. If you don’t have a destination in mind, choosing a path is not important.

But if you choose option #3, then being able to set long term goals is the best way to ensure that you’ll get to where you want to go.

The Importance of Setting Long Term Goals

Where do you want to be in five years?

Everyone has a plan for their life. We all imagine what our future will look like, what we will be doing, how we will be living and even who we will be living with.

While things rarely workout exactly as planned, it is nonetheless important to set long term goals and work toward them. Without long term goals, we are just wondering aimlessly through life.

And even if we have goals for our lives, unless we take concrete steps to realize them, we are relying on dumb luck to get us there.

The most successful people know the power of goal setting and how to break down big long term goals into a series of smaller short term goals that will keep you focused and motivated.

How to Set (And Reach) Your Long Term Goals

Do you suffer from paralysis by analysis? It’s a common condition that happens when people are faced with a lot of options or a seemingly overwhelming tasks.

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When faced with too many options, they become obsessed with choosing the “right” one, and never being sure what the “right” one is, they never make a decision.

Likewise, when faced with a seemingly overwhelming task, they may never even start because they “just don’t know where to begin”.

By following these 7 easy steps, you can set and achieve almost any long term goal no matter how big or small it is.

1. Make Goals, not Wishes

Who hasn’t thought about winning the lottery or inheriting a lot of money from a rich relative? While there is nothing wrong with daydreaming about these things, they are not goals.

A goal should be something that you can work towards, not something that falls into your lap through luck.

A goal is “I want to have a business that makes one million dollars a year within five years” not ” I want to win the mega millions within five years”.

2. Be Specific

Remember when you were young and a grown up would ask “What do you want to be when you grow up?”.

No one ever said I want to work in the medical field or in government or I want to help people. NO! You said I want to be a Doctor, the President, a Policeman. These were specific goals that we had as kids, and while most of us didn’t end up Astronauts or Presidents, we still pictured ourselves in these very specific roles.

When you are setting long term goals for your life and career, it’s important to be as specific as possible. Get into detail about what you want, and think about it in very concrete terms.

So instead of saying “In five years, I want to be rich.” Think about what that really means to you and what it would look like. Having a more specific goal would be “In five years I want to own a Ferrari, live in an upscale neighborhood and be making enough money to take a two week vacation to Europe every year.”

Having specific goals makes measuring your progress easier. You know you reached you goal to have a Ferrari if you look in the garage and see one. It’s much harder to gauge if you are “rich” as rich is always a moving target.

3. Write Down Your Goals

A goal that’s not written down is just a wish. Please do not neglect this step!

As humans, we are prone to daydreaming and wishful thinking. We need to take concrete steps to realize our goals.

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So when you set long term goals, you need to write them down. This single act will take your goal out of the realm of the mind and into the physical (real) world.

Just by taking this step, your odds of achieving your goal go up tremendously.

4. Breakdown Your Long Term Goal into Smaller Goals

When setting long term goals, it’s okay to make them big, in fact, some say the bigger, the better.

The only problem is that it can seem overwhelming to say “In five years, I’ll have a business that makes one million dollars per year”.

How do you get from not having a business at all to having one that makes a million dollars per year? The answer is the same way you’d eat an elephant, one bite at a time.

Once you have decided on your long term goals, you’ll then need to break them down into bite sized chunks.

So if our goal is to have a business that makes one million dollars per year five years from now, where do we start?

First you need to do some research on a businesses you can do from home in your spare time. There are a lot of options out there that don’t necessarily take a lot of time or money to get started.

Then you’ll want to get competent in the business by taking training courses and networking with others who are already successful in the business.

Once you have a good foundation, it’s time to get started. Launching the business will be the scariest and most rewarding day of your life. But you’re still not close to making a million dollars per year, so break it down some more.

Your first year goal maybe to earn $50,000. Your second year you’ll want to earn $150,000, third year $300,000 Fourth $600,000 and in the fifth year $1,000,000. Each of those years can be broken down into smaller goals.

So your first year in order to make $50,000, you’ll need to make $4,170 per month, that’s $1,043 per week and $149 per day. You can break it down even further to say I need three sales per day to make the $149.

At first, you may have no sales, but by experimenting with various marketing strategies that you learned earlier, the sales will start coming in. Then it’s just a matter of fine tuning your marketing efforts and building on your successes.

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5. Remember Your Long Term Goals

You have set your long term goals and even written them down.

Now, don’t just put them in a drawer. We need to have a constant reminder of why we are doing this. Your long term goals should be displayed somewhere prominent (for you). You don’t need to hang them over the fireplace, but they should be placed where you can see them everyday.

Some popular places are on your bathroom mirror or taped to your computer. Really anywhere you will see them everyday.

Setting long term goals and reaching them is not an easy process. If it was, everyone would be making a million dollars per year.

Things go wrong, issues and problems arise that no one can see. It’s during these times that remembering your long term goals is important.

6. Reevaluate and Adjust

You should always be looking for ways to improve what you are doing, but it’s especially important in this new internet age.

We don’t have to look very far to see how quickly things can change. You must be willing to change coarse or be left behind. Toys ‘R’ Us closing their stores in the U.S. is an example of this.[1]

So getting back to your growing business, the marketing that got you to $600,000 per year might not be the marketing that gets you to your long term goal of one million dollars per year.

Always keep your goal in mind but always be willing to adjust course to get to it.

7. Don’t Give Up

Realize and understand that the road to success is never straight. You will inevitably come up against obstacles and barriers to your goals. This is not the time to quit.

In fact, many times coping with the obstacle or finding a way around the barrier has led to more success than anticipated. Always remember, the only sure way to fail is to quit.

Bonus Step: Practice Daily Aphorisms

I know it sounds cheesy, but having a daily aphorism is a great way to stay motivated and focused. It’s a good practice whether you own a business or just want to get ahead in your job.

Come up with five to ten concise statements that you find inspiring and write them down.

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When you wake up in the morning, choose one aphorism for that day. Put it on your bathroom mirror next to your long term goal. Repeat the aphorism and the goal several times out loud.

Carry the aphorism with you for the rest of the day. You’ll want to keep it in a place that you will run across it several times, (wallet or pocket).

Then, every time you come across it, take it out and read it. It only takes a second to do, and that reinforcement is priceless. Not sure what to write down? Here are some common aphorisms:

  • “Those at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there.”
  • “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.”
  • “If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission.”
  • “Don’t give up. Life rewards those who work hard at it.”
  • “I will strive to make today better than yesterday”
  • “Successful entrepreneurs are givers and not takers of positive energy.”
  • “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
  • “What’s the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable.”
  • “Every time they stay out late; every time they sleep in; every time they miss a workout; every time they don’t give 100% – They make it that much easier for me to beat them”.

Obviously, these are just suggestion, you can use whatever inspires or motivates you to improve your life.

Final Thoughts

Very few of us can count on winning the lottery or inheriting a fortune for a rich relative. But luckily, most of us don’t need to.

With so many options in the world today, the only thing holding most people back from success is themselves.

Fear of failure is the number one reason most people will never become as successful as they could be. Change is a scary thing, and let’s face it, no one wants to lose, it’s not easy for people to get out of their comfort zone. Most people won’t unless they have to or they perceive that the reward is worth the risk.

By setting long term goals and then breaking them down into smaller goals that are easily achievable, you have created your own personalized road map to success.

And while that long term goal of making a million dollars a year seems insurmountable, the short term goal of making $149 is easily doable.

Now, for some people, the thought of taking any risk will always be an insurmountable obstacle, for others, having a destination clearly defined and a series of steps they can take to get there all that they need to overcome the fear and find success.

While the road to achieving your goals is never a straight line, and there will always be detours and bumps in the road. Embrace these things, they are all part of the journey and they really do make the fruits of your labor sweeter.

Remember, Alice was just wandering through the forest, you want a destination.

More on Setting & Achieving Goals

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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