Reconnecting with your childhood imagination to be more creative
It only dawned on me recently how far removed I am from the level of imagination I had when I was younger. I’ve been watching a lot of the documentaries on Disney+ about the Disney Company and how it operates. What I came to realise is Walt Disney’s vision and then ultimately his achievements, were built on his imagination and his endless sense of curiosity. Listening to all of the Disney employees talk about their jobs, you can tell that that belief in childhood wonder and excitement has never left the company.
As we get older it’s very easy to forget and leave our childhood sense of wonder and exploration behind and simply except the world and our own circumstances for what they are. As we build our careers and businesses it becomes very easy to fall into the way it’s always been done and we start to morph into doppelgangers of each other.
As we find our place in the world we subconsciously become fearful of stepping out of line, being different, making mistakes and losing what it is we’ve built. I’ve caught myself on multiple occasions recently, thinking about how others are doing things, solving problems, making advances, and forgot to think about how I would solve those challenges.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to go about reconnecting with my imagination, with those weird and wonderful ideas children come up with, because they have no reason to disbelieve or question those thoughts. The world to them is a magical and exciting place full of new adventures, and something I believe is important for us as professionals to find a way back to, in some form or another.
I am fortunate to consider myself a very creative person, I seem to have an ability to think differently and come up with fresh ideas, however I’ve always felt that whether you consider yourself a creative person or not, that you can learn to think more creatively and think differently. Being creative isn’t about whether you can draw, or paint, or take a great photograph, or make a great film. Being creative is about thinking differently.
I’ve tried to come up with some ideas to help get back to that innocent self. These are just some concepts I’ve come up with and there will of course, be so many other ways of achieving this. But I hope if you’re also struggling to think differently or want to be able to work more creatively, perhaps these ideas will work for you to.
#1 VISUALISING WHAT YOU WANT
Visualisation is nothing new, a lot of high-achieving individuals practise this, and vision boards are something that a lot of business coaches push hard. Now I’m not going to delve into the psychology of visualisation, athletes for example work with psychologists to help them perform better, and I’m in no position to talk about that, nor would I even know how, but I can talk about vision boards, or rather using images to help us see what it is we want.
Vision boards typically are either physical or digital collages or collections of images that represent what you want. They might include photos of a car you want, or the type of house you one day want to live in. The problem I have with these is your using someone else’s images to distill and visualise your dreams, so they’re never going to truly represent what you want. What if, rather than collate images from around the internet, you took pen to paper and drew out your own vision.
Children love to draw, and for them it’s not about creating art or being the best artist, or even staying in the lines, it’s about drawing something that is interesting to them, or visualising something that might be troubling or exciting them, that they can’t quite verbalise. What would it be like to draw our dreams and ambitions almost stream of consciousness like a child. There is something very creatively freeing about making something for ourselves, something that has no further purpose than to allow us to get out what it is that perhaps we can’t verbalise or form in our minds. Perhaps by simply drawing and scribbling we can reconnect with that imaginative part of ourselves that it is so easy to forget.
#2 FIND A CREATIVE OUTLET
This may not be for everybody but I think I’m safe in saying that most people have a creative outlet, they just might not realise they have one. It’s much easier to follow the status quo and do things like everybody else because there is an existing blueprint we can follow. Most of us follow the path of least resistance, and naturally so, but when we do that for too long I think we perhaps lose a bit of our ability to think for ourselves, or act in a different way. For example, if you haven’t ridden a bike for over a decade, the next time to ride one you’re going to be rusty. Not because you’re bad a riding a bike, but because you haven’t flexed those muscles for a long time.
If we’re not being creative on a frequent basis, we’ll stop thinking differently. This is where having a creative outlet comes in. Now I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking that you can’t draw or paint, you don’t like singing and you find photography difficult. Drawing, painting, singing, photography, videography, these are all creative outlets, but so is cooking, gardening, fashion, house renovations, furniture refurbishing etc. We all have different interests and hobbies, but I’m almost certain that you already do, or certainly would like to start at least one of those things, or perhaps some variation of those things that I haven’t mentioned.
It’s important to have something creative to do that allows you to free your mind, to solve a problem, or to make something from scratch. All of these things will help us flex that creative muscle, reconnect with our imaginations and start to think differently. If you’re a keen gardener for example and are looking at transforming part of your garden, you will have a vision in your mind of what you want it to look like, but there will likely be some bits of that vision that you can quite see, that you bring to life purely from gut instinct, from some innate interior belief that that will look right. You’re using your imagination to bring that part of your garden to life.
#3 EXPLORE THE IMAGINATION OF OTHERS
Ok, that sounds a bit confusing, but what I mean by this is consume things that were dreamt up by someone else. This might be a book, a piece of music, a play, a musical, an exhibition, a film, something that was touched and created by someone else. They say that we become the average of the five people we interact with the most, so if you have a group of friends that are pessimistic, you will naturally take on and mirror some of those pessimistic thoughts. I believe the same is true of imagination and creativity. The more creativity we are around, the more it will rub off on us.
Now this doesn’t mean you need to hang around with artists, or musicians, or filmmakers, or even be one yourself, but it does mean consuming works of art, or rather things that others have made. Now the tricky part of this is having some self awareness around what type of thing seems to open up your mind and inspires you into thought. Most of us will watch TV and movies and listen to music, but for some they will only ever be a source of entertainment and escapism, and that’s fine. However I am almost certain that there is something that gets you thinking. For me for example, I feel the most inspired and imaginative when I watch documentaries and listen to podcasts about people and companies I admire. I also feel immensely creative when watching films, because I have a curiosity and a desire to find out how they made it.
So the key here is to experiment and try to pay attention to what you’re doing and how it impacts whatever it is your subconsciously thinking about. It’s also important however to make sure that you enjoy consuming whatever it is you’re consuming. If you don’t like watching plays, then don’t watch them. It’s also highly unlikely that something you don’t enjoy with have a positive creative impact on you anyway.
SO THAT’S IT…
…a few ideas on how we can start to reconnect with our childhood imaginations and allow ourselves the room to think more creatively, more freely. Like I said at the very beginning, these are ways I’ve been thinking of and participating in to allow me to unlock a greater part of my imagination. It is my belief that those who have the ability to think differently, are the ones who will stand out the most. So it must be worth the time to explore how you can unlock a more creative and childish side of yourself.