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8 Ways To Bring Your Creative Passions to Work

8 Ways To Bring Your Creative Passions to Work

    A “creative” person I worked with at a “trucking company” developed a reputation as frustrated  and bitter over her 30-year career. At her retirement, I inquired about her plans, particularly since she was relatively young. Asking if she hoped to create more art since she was now freed from cranking out corporate brochures, she told me, “No.” Instead, she was going to work at a garden center, since she loved plants and being outdoors.

    While her answer was startling, the next time I saw her confirmed the impact this life change made. She was barely recognizable! Her long white hair was cut short and stylishly, she was tanned, and had a huge smile you couldn’t wipe off her face.  All this, a result of finally expressing her creativity as she truly enjoyed.

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    Makes you wonder why, if your creative passions involved the outdoors and plants, you’d sit in a cube for 30 years working on sales collateral while your bitterness festered? Maybe she felt stuck because she didn’t think a garden center job would pay enough. Yet surely, there were other alternatives.

    Many people find themselves in similar situations. You have creative pursuits you enjoy OUTSIDE work, but can’t imagine incorporating them into your day job to make it more enjoyable. If you feel that’s your situation, it doesn’t have to be. Using my “graphic artist in a decidedly non-creative trucking company friend” (let’s call her Betty) as an example, here are 8 ways to incorporate your creative passions into your job:

    1. Don’t complain about your situation. Start figuring out how to adapt it.

    Betty was all about complaining, which stopped people from wanting to work with her in new, creative ways. Instead of griping, invest your energy in thinking strategically about how you could adapt your work to be more creative. What co-workers, customers, situations, projects, programs, products, and critical business needs might be waiting to incorporate the creative skills you’re truly passionate about using?

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    2. Map out how your interests could tie to your job.

    Step back to generalize and innovate on how your creative passion could connect to your current company’s business. This will start creating potential hooks you can use to attach your passion to your job. In Betty’s case, working with plants at a garden center could be generalized to cultivating and growing things, design, customer interaction, outdoor settings, etc. Once you’ve moved from “working in a garden center” to “what happens at a garden center,” you have the seeds (pun intended) to plant in your regular job for new sources of creativity to spring up.

    3. Do some thinking on your own to imagine hidden opportunities.

    After thinking about your outside passion, consider your company and where it might need the same talents, experiences, and results related to your creativity. In the trucking company example, Betty’s list could have included: landscaping around our headquarters, design and planning for field facilities, plants in offices and common areas inside our building, sprucing up corporate meetings and conferences, and employees’ club fund raising projects and events. Any of these (and more) could easily have components tied to gardening and design.

    4. Put your interests into the language of business.

    When trying to introduce creativity, you’ll hit brick walls if you talk in the language of your creative passion. If Betty walked in and announced, “I want to work with flowers here at the trucking company,” her ideas would have been dead on arrival. Instead, consider the language you can use to express your interests. Betty could have used vocabulary related to events and facilities to initiate conversations.

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    5. Find like minded people.

    Ask others about their outside creative interests: “What do you like to do for fun? How do you express yourself creatively?” If the company is of any size and your creative interests are anywhere near the mainstream, you’ll likely discover others who share your passions. Learn what ideas they may have and how they react to your possibilities for bringing your creativity more squarely into the workplace.

    6. Volunteer for smart opportunities even if they’re out of the spotlight.

    Start expending energy to insert yourself into smart opportunities you’ve identified. In Betty’s case, the first stop should have been the company employees’ club since it offered opportunities to help plan a summer get together (being outdoors), coordinate a holiday party (floral design and decoration), sponsor fund raisers (a plant sale), and at one time, send floral arrangements to hospitalized employees (direct interaction w/ florists). While Betty’s is a specific instance, the same concept applies for you. Map out and implement the plan to seize opportunities (even if they’re small ones) and increase your workplace creativity.

    7. Begin doing even more.

    Once you start to get a reputation for contributing successfully in innovative ways, the word will spread, and new opportunities will surface. In our company, we ultimately started sponsoring major events for hundreds of customers – both meetings and NASCAR events. New and enhanced creative approaches were always desirable and could certainly have included floral design as an element. Since no one wanted to work with Betty, however, she was never asked to participate. Being able to realize those first small successes, however, can lead to new opportunities to do even more creatively.

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    8. If it’s not working, don’t stick around and be miserable.

    Betty chose to stay 30 years making herself and those around her miserable. If you try this approach, and for whatever reasons it doesn’t work in your particular company, look for another job rather than fuming. In a similar situation, our neighbor was a nurse who also wanted to work at a garden center. One day, she quit her nursing job and made the switch. The garden center only paid about 1/3 of what nursing did, so after a few years of blissful work at a garden center, she went back into another area of nursing. Not only does she have the memories to sustain her, she still works part-time at the garden place, keeps in touch with friends she made, and always knows she can make the switch again in the future. She’s happy, not miserable, realizing she has options.

    I used these tips in the same not particularly creative company as Betty to uncover ways to introduce my love for art, music, and speaking into my job to make it much more fulfilling. While it wasn’t always exactly how I wanted things to be, it was so much better than never being able to exercise my creative passions. Whether you try just one tip or use them in sequence as a personal success plan, make sure you get started today!

    Image: LastMariner

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2020

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

    “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

    Are we speaking the same language?

    My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

    When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

    Am I being lazy?

    When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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    Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

    Early in the relationship:

    “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

    When the relationship is established:

    “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

    It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

    Have I actually got anything to say?

    When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

    A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

    When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

    Am I painting an accurate picture?

    One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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    How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

    Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

    What words am I using?

    It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

    Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

    Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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    Is the map really the territory?

    Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

    A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

    I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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