I’ve been thinking about creativity a lot lately, how to inspire and preserve it, and create a process to replicate it. I know creativity requires randomness, which is part of my frustration. My own creativity has emerged from being an early adopter of new ideas, and having a lot of varied experiences. However, in the past 3 years I’ve been cycling through ideas, and have siloed myself into a routine when it comes to hobbies and work. Also, as an early adopter of ideas I’ve been responsible for conveying them. Spending more of my time evangelizing, and less time discovering new ones has resulted in mental stagnation.
I know this is probably one of those posts that people will roll their eyes at “yeah right you’re mind is really stagnating…” But here’s why I think this is an important personal battle:
- All the experiences I had between 0 to 30 years of age were brand new. Studying engineering, participating in a startup, building friendships, and traveling around world all before the age of 30 were great. But now I’m left wondering what’s next? Most people would say its time to settle down, sadly I feel like I might not be the settling down type… Especially since I know my abilities haven’t peaked, and there are more things to experience. However, I do feel like I am less of a sponge when it comes to absorbing vast amounts of new ideas and information. I’ve also gotten really good at spotting variations of the ideas that are being rehashed, which is once again frustrating.
- As people get older they get stuck in their ways, this of course diminishes creativity. Just being young and not knowing anything keeps you open to ideas, but when you are older you are more set in your ways, and opposed to challenges because of comfort. There’s also less desire for self-discovery. While I can continue to force challenges upon myself, the peer group who is willing to do this with me has gotten smaller. That’s not meant to be an excuse, just an observation.
So how can I stay wide-eyed, avoid cynicism, and have new experiences that will actually help me to grow? Sheer drive and digging deeper.
Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.
– John Cleese
I’ve had a breadth of experiences, but I cannot say I’ve had a depth of experiences. So instead of dismissing an idea or experience as “been there done that”, I’m actually forcing repetition, and looking deeper. For example, I’ve been practicing the same form of yoga for almost 9 years now. To prevent boredom I deconstruct postures, and think about how I can go deeper in them.
When it come to my other love: engineering, this past year I’ve spent less time actually engineering, and more time teaching and writing. This is extremely gratifying but there is part of me that grows antsy to build. To fill that void I have to channel my engineering skills into building my business.
Finally, I know the desire to continue being creative, and having a level of dissatisfaction will keep me growing. Curious to know if other people who are my age feel the same way, and how they resolve it? Have you ever experienced cramped creativity?