Inspiration can be a mystery. On good days, ideas seem to drop out the sky; on a bad day, creative thinking is like getting water out a dry well.
We all need help finding the right idea sometimes. But are there creative thinking strategies to help experience those unpredictable moments of inspiration more often? How can you train yourself to think like an innovator and generate more, better ideas?
The English word ‘inspiration’ comes from the Latin, inspirare, meaning to breathe or blow. This reflects a belief that creatve thinking is like being guided by divine power, the breath or spirit of God.
In modern times, we think of that sudden illumination as the lightbulb moment. Where there was darkness and no clear path forward, suddenly there is light.
This matters for business and for our personal lives: studies continue to show how important inspiration is for our sense of growth and achievement. But many of us have no idea where to start getting more inspired – and that’s where following simple, creative thinking strategies comes in helpful.
Creative thinking – every day
You might not think of yourself that way but all of us are innovators and all of us have one (at least) world-changing idea rattling around inside our heads.
There’s no big secret to creative thinking and inspiration. We are involved in creative thinking every day of our lives, whether we realise it or not, and we can all learn to harness that natural spark.
It takes practice and determination but with the right approach, you can train yourself to feel inspired more often. Here are some creative thinking strategies that work for us here at Spacebase.
Reframe how you think about creativity
It’s not just about lightning bolt moments – creative thinking is part of daily life, from how we adapt last-minute plans to how we engage socially with friends and colleagues. Recognising how creative you are on a daily basis is a good start to boosting your confidence.
Not always (and especially not in meetings) but now and then, take 10 minutes to let your mind wander. According to Harvard psychologists, this actually helps us to solve problems. Try not to focus on immediate problems in front of you. Instead, let your mind travel where it wants to.
These moments of reflection are important for breaking up the day and introducing new mental space for creative thinking, especially mid-to-late afternoon when energy is flagging and inspiration is at zero.
Go with the flow
Follow your train of thought wherever it takes you – especially if you end up somewhere unexpected. Inspiration can come from many different sources. Creative thinking is about learning to enjoy the unpredictability and trust the process. Don’t worry – you will come up with something!
Find your sweet spot
Archimedes famously had his ‘eureka!’ moment while he was soaking in the tub (or not). Others swear by taking a walk around the block, cooking dinner, or being surrounded by nature. Sometimes the best ideas come in bed at the end of a long day. Wherever it is, find out where you have good ideas most often.
Write your ideas down
Don’t let good ideas get lost. Keep them in a notebook or save them on your phone. Writing helps us process information, and an idea that sounds silly or useless at first might be worth more development in the future. You can’t develop your ideas if you forget them.
Brainstorm with others
Get out of your head and into other peoples’. The answer to a question might be staring you in the face but sometimes you can’t get there alone.
We all bring different perspectives to a problem – think of this as having different pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. By sitting down and sharing ideas, you can generate something totally new. Try it in one of our creative meeting locations for even better results!
Ideas will come and go, change and multiply. So don’t get too attached to the first thing that comes to mind and don’t get distracted making it perfect. Test an idea out from different angles, and accept that where you end up will probably be very far from where you started. This is part of the process of creative thinking.
As you set out on your journey for more inspiration, you might feel self-conscious but don’t let this stop you. If you feel unsure, ignore the negative voice in your head. Creativity is like a tap – the more you turn it, the stronger the ideas will flow.
It can be tempting to run off with the unicorns but bring yourself back to earth. Once you have had some different ideas, look at what is realistic. Focus on your long-term goal – does the new idea get you closer to achieving it? What are the next steps to take?
Moving from inspiration and creative thinking to action calls for you to make a plan, so get on with this as soon as you can. Don’t let your inspiration go to waste.