Creative Mindset: A Beginners Guide to Practising A Creative Mindset
Having a creative mindset means living with a mindset that allows you to think, feel and express yourself creatively, and consistently.
It’s a mindset that is open and not fixed or closed. It’s a way to view the world with wonder and most definitely looking at yourself with wonder.
In this post, I’ll have a look at what is mindset is and the 3 most common and talked about mindsets.
Then I’ll take you through the most important aspects of a creative mindset from my experience.
This guide is to create awareness for you and maybe make you question your current mindset. It’s not like we can decide to have a different mindset from one minute to another.
That is why this guide is meant as a practice. These 8 suggestions are not scientifically backed, they are based on my personal experience as a creative and as a creativity coach.
What is a mindset?
According to the dictionary, a mindset is the established set of attitudes held by someone.
Wikipedia says it’s a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by one or more people. It can also be a person's world view or philosophy of life.
You have probably heard of a fixed mindset and growth mindset.
A fixed mindset is when you believe your qualities are what you are born with and they are not changeable. It is what it is. You are what you are.
A growth mindset is the opposite. If you believe you can change and learn new abilities with work, then you have a growth mindset.
Why mindsets matter
Your mindset plays a huge role in how you live your life and how you cope with life’s challenges. In this article, Carol Dweck explains from her studies on mindsets, that people with a fixed mindset tend to look for other people’s approval. They also tend to be less resillient and throw in the towel more often when things get tough.
Your mindset matter because it’s the basis of how you see yourself and others.
How you are dealing with problems and challenges at work and at home depends a lot on your mindset.
As well as a fixed mindset and growth mindset, you can also have a creative mindset, which is super useful when you want to do creative work. Obvs :-)
Creative mindset: a beginners guide to practicing a creative mindset
Make mistakes on purpose. This is a novel and silly idea. Why make mistakes if you can avoid it? This is the thinking you’ve been trained to think. In school and society. A creative mindset is a mindset of exploring and trying new things and seeing new connections. If you’re afraid to make mistakes you won’t go where you need to go.
Thing is, it’s the fear of what’ll happen if you make a mistake that’ll hold you back.
Mistakes are not your enemy. They are not bad. They are just a way of not doing something. Train yourself to say you love mistakes. Write in big letters “I love mistakes” on a piece of paper and hang it where you can see it.
It’s usually not the mistake itself you’re afraid of. It’s the idea of how making the mistake will make you feel.
Will you feel shame, embarrassed and beat yourself up?
Or will you say “great, that didn’t work, now I know. On to the next thing.”
If you like mistakes, and you expect to make mistakes, then they won’t feel as scary and they won’t stop you being creative.
Lead with curiosity
Every day quickly come to look the same. Today is like yesterday and the day before. 40% of your life is lived in habits, and we love habits, but this is why having a creative mindset means you have to seek a way to bring new into your life.
What are you curious about? When was the last time you felt curious about something?
Are there topics, subjects, jobs, ideas you think are a little interesting? Are there times when you watch something on telly or hear someone talk about a subject and you light up?
You don’t have to change everything about your life to lead with curiosity. Next time you speak to someone, you can simply ask them to tell you more about themselves. You can ask how they pick the plants they have in their garden or what they like best about their job. Little things.
You can check out @curiouswithjvn and get inspired to follow a curios lead.
Questions to ask: Finish these sentences: I wonder how it would be like to know ………….? I wonder what I could do if I knew how to …..?
Go down the path less travelled
A creative mindset is about going down the path less travelled in your brain. The more pathways you have created in your brain, the easier the task is. This is also habits. If you can imagine your brain is full of millions of small pathways. The more you do one thing, the bigger those pathways become until it eventually becomes a highway. This is a habit. Something you do so often it doesn’t take much thinking on your part. What you want to do to practice a creative mindset is to go down the path less travelled.
Try new things. Make new connections, put new things together, see things from a different angle.
Go a different way. Make it your mission to find 3 different routes to work and take turn using them.
Questions to ask: What is one thing I would do differently if I wasn’t afraid of what people would say? What is a different way I can look at my creative work?
Say no, then say yes
Say no to people that are a-holes. Say no to accepting being treated badly. Say no to always having to be the one who having to do everything. And please, say no to pleasing people.
Say no to constant distractions. This is the path to feeling overwhelmed and that just shuts you down.
Take time for yourself to create. Insist on doing what you are interested in. Say no to other people’s expectations of you and say yes to yourself. Your creative mindset won’t come from other people. You must decide to follow your own path. That is in essence a creative mindset.
Questions to ask: What is one small boundary I can set? What boundaries do I need to have to feel happier? How can I communicate this boundaries with kindness and respect?
Just like making mistakes is something we try and avoid at all cost, we do the same with not being afraid. No one likes being scared but fortunately, our brains are made to look after us. Fear (amygdala) wakes up when you think about doing something you haven’t done before. Everytime you lead with curiosity and begin a new project, you will feel a little or a lot scared. That’s a 100% guaranteed.
So, the choice you have, is to acknowledge the fear, reality check it as in are you really in danger or just trying to learn something new?
Or let fear control you.
I promise, every human on the planet feels fear. A creative mindset isn’t about being fearless and turning into someone else. A creative mindset is about choosing courage over fear. Allow yourself to be so scared you’re shaking in your boots, and then do your thing anyway.
Questions to ask: Where do I feel fear in my body? How can I practise feeling fear and know that I’m ok?
A closed and fixed mindset believes you know enough already. You’ve come across people like that, I’m sure. It’s about being open and not closed. Some of the time, anyway.
I don’t mean to say you have to take courses all the time and learn a new skill every month.
A learning and open mindset can simply be when someone want to tell you something and instead of shutting them off or saying “I know”, listen and ask for more information.
I catch myself thinking sometimes when someone tells me something, that I don’t really want to know this. I’m either too busy to stop and really listen or I think I know better. I’m sure we all do this sometimes. But if you can just sometimes listen and ask to learn more about what the person is saying, then you’re not only practicing an open, creative mindset, you’re also being a nice person.
Questions to ask:
what do I want to learn today? What have I learned today? How can I be a little more open to learning today?
Train your divergent thinking by asking yourself “what if…”.
Divergent thinking is part of creative thinking and it’s a great and easy way to practice your creative mindset. You can also train your kids’ or other people’s creative mindset by asking them “what if…” questions.
What if you followed that dream you had and made it into a one-page story?
What if you made a drawing with your eyes closed?
What if you contacted that person you admire but are afraid to contact?
Be playful, weird, crazy and silly
Never lose your sense of weirdness. Never lose your quirkiness. Play around and be silly.
First of all, having a laugh is a more fun way to live. Second, it’s also good for you and your creativity.
A light and fun mindset makes your brain relax, so you access front cortex, the thinking brain.
Question to ask: How can I make this more fun? How can I lighten up a little?
How to practise a creative mindset
You can start practising a creative mindset by answering one or a few of the questions I’ve laid out for you in this post. Don’t feel you have to answer them all at once.
You can also write these 8 ways down and hang them where you see them often as a reminder. Or you can pick 1 of them to focus on. You can spend a month focusing on making as many mistakes on purpose as you can. Remember it’s not actually about the mistakes but about the thinking behind it. Say to yourself “I’m not going to be afraid of making a mistake.”
Or you can say, “what if……I was going to make 3 mistakes this month?” See what I did there?
It’s a practise and you can totally do this.
Just think what having a creative mindset will do for your creativity and your creative work?