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POST: 7 Rituals You Should Steal From Extremely Creative People

It’s often said that creativity can’t be contained.  That creative
inspiration and ideas arise suddenly out of nowhere and then fail to
show up when we need them most.  And while that may be true for a
specific idea, when you look at the broader picture, you realize that
sustained creativity – having lots of creative ideas over time – doesn’t
come from a flash of brilliance or a single moment of inspiration.  It
comes from a consistent set of rituals that serve as the bedrock for
getting remarkable things done.

1.  Engage deeply in meaningful pursuits.

Marcus Aurelius once said, “Stop whatever you’re doing for a moment
and ask yourself: Am I afraid of death because I won’t be able to do
this anymore?”

One of our coaching clients brought this quote to my attention about a
decade ago.  Today I have it pinned to the bulletin board in my
office.  It stops me from squandering my most precious resource: my
Creativity as both a lifestyle and a profession is a daring adventure, and a truly
rewarding one.  To thoroughly love what you do while also being
fulfilled financially and emotionally is an aspiration and a challenge. 
That aspiration can become a reality, but it takes lots of hard work,
dedication, and some luck that eventually comes from persistently doing the right things. 
Which is why you must remind yourself on a daily basis of what’s
actually meaningful to you, and fully commit to the actions that yield
progress in that area of your life.


2.  Set up triggers that get you into the rhythm for a routine of creating.

Maya Angelou only wrote in small hotel rooms.  Jack Kerouac made sure
to touch the ground nine times before sitting down to write.  And many
of the artistic clients we’ve worked with over the years have done
everything from meditating, to singing, to running, to even doing
two-hour long workouts immediately prior to working on their creative

Think about your days.  How are they structured?  What triggers your
creative (and productive) mind?  Are you consciously structuring your
days with this trigger in mind?

Whether it’s waking up early, working in a specific location, or
hitting the weights first thing in the morning, you need to find a
trigger that gets you into rhythm – your rhythm.  When you design a
healthy daily routine that starts automatically every morning, you save
lots of mental energy for the creative thinking that comes naturally
when you find yourself in your rhythm.  Through this personalized
routine you will bring out your most intuitive work.

Of course, your routine will change occasionally due to evolving
circumstances.  The idea is that you make the necessary adjustments and
maintain a routine that works – one that maintains the necessary
triggers and rituals to develop and nurture your creative mind, and to
ultimately do the work necessary to get you from where you are to where
you want to be. 

3.  Spend daily downtime daydreaming.

Creative types know that, despite what their grade school teachers
likely told them, daydreaming is anything but a waste of their time. 
While structured routines are important for the actual process of
creating, our minds need downtime filled with the freedom to wander.

Neuroscientists have found that daydreaming involves the same brain
processes associated with imagination and creative thinking.  According
to psychologist Rebecca L. McMillan, daydreaming can aid in the “creative incubation” of ideas and solutions to complex problems.

Perhaps that’s why we sometimes get our best ideas while taking a long, hot shower.

4.  Schedule in new experiences.

When they’re not daydreaming in their downtime, creative types love
to expose themselves to new experiences, sensations and states of mind. 
This willingness to stretch themselves is a significant predictor of
their creative output.  Because creative growth always begins at the end
of your comfort zone.

Of course, a big part of this happens inside a routine when you’re
“in rhythm” and working hard to stretch your creative and intellectual
muscles.  But new experiences help balance out your routines.  They
force you to think differently.  So make an effort to try something new
at least once a week.  It can be a whole new activity or just a small
experience, such as talking to a stranger.  Once you get the ball
rolling, many of these new experiences will open doors to life-changing
perspectives you can’t even fathom right now.

And with a strategy of continuous small, scheduled steps into new
experiences, you are able to sidestep the biggest barrier to thinking
outside the box: Fear.

5.  Observe your mentors and study the work of other masters.

If you study the lives of enough successful creators, it becomes
obvious that most world-class performers in all fields – musicians,
entrepreneurs, artists, dancers, etc. – had incredible mentors, coaches
or role models who made the activity of practice worthwhile and

If you can speak with a mentor face to face, that’s incredible – do
so!  But keep in mind that just observing a mentor works wonders too. 
When we observe someone we want to learn from, and we have a crystal
clear idea of what we want to create for ourselves, it unlocks a
tremendous amount of motivation.  Human beings are socially inclined,
and when we get the idea that we want to join some elite circle up above
us, that is what really motivates us to achieve greatness.  “Look, they
did it.  I can do it too!”  It may sound overly simplistic, but
spending time studying people who are great can be one of the most
powerful things you can do for yourself.

6.  Lean heavily on your intuition.

Intuition is very real and something that is never wise to ignore,
because it comes from deep within your subconscious and is derived from a
combination of your previous life experiences and core perceptions
about the present.  If everyone else is telling you “yes” but your gut
is telling you otherwise, it’s usually for a good reason.  When faced
with difficult decisions, seek out all the information you can find,
become as knowledgeable as you possibly can, and then listen to your
God-given instincts.

Creative people know that trusting your intuition is equivalent to
trusting your true self; and the more you trust your true self, the more
control you have of making your biggest goals and wildest dreams come
true, just the way you envision.

7.  Gradually turn life’s obstacles around.

Many of the most iconic novels, songs, and inventions of all time
were inspired by gut-wrenching pain and heartbreak.  Therefore, the
silver lining of these great challenges is that they were the catalyst
to the creation of epic masterpieces.

An emerging field of psychology called Post-Traumatic Growth has
suggested that most people are able to use their hardships and traumas
for substantial creative and intellectual development.  Specifically,
researchers have found that trauma can help people grow their long-term
contentment, emotional strength, and resourcefulness.

When our view of the world as a safe place, or as a certain type of
place, has been shattered, we are forced to reboot our perspective on
things.  We suddenly have the opportunity to look out to the periphery
and see things with a new, fresh set of beginner’s eyes, which is
extremely beneficial to creativity and personal growth. 


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