Go ahead — draw outside the lines.
There no longer seems to be a secret formula that can ensure that students will end up with a job after graduation. A college degree, internships and participation in extracurricular activities are no longer differentiating characteristics for a recent college grad.
With the enhancement of communication and technology, products are constantly changing to become better and more efficient. Today, companies look for whatever can help them keep up with the ever-changing business landscape. They are looking for the invaluable characteristic: creativity.
You can develop a stronger sense of creativity by following three steps:
Live a little.
Whether we realize it or not, we perceive the world through our own lens. By experiencing new situations, you can widen your personal scope. This makes your mind more flexible, aiding in your ability to bring dissimilar ideas together to develop original ideas. “Creativity generally involves crossing the boundaries of domains,” notes psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. By exposing yourself to more fields of interest and philosophies, you will have a heightened ability to bring ideas from separate domains together.
Diversifying your perspective can be simple. Psychologist Simone Ritter and colleagues propose in a recent paper, titled “Diversifying experiences enhance cognitive flexibility,” that any experience, however subtle or life-changing, can lead to the flexibility that allows for creativity — as long as it diversifies your experiences and pushes you beyond your presumed mode of thinking. Activities like this can be as simple as watching a new television show, reading magazines outside of your field of interest or visiting a museum that you have never been to. For the more ambitious, traveling is a very effective way to learn about new cultures and perspectives on life.
Think outside the box — your box, that is.
In addition to expanding your perspective on life, you should learn to think outside of it. The problem with thinking outside the box is that most of us do not even realize the box exists and thus cannot identify its constraints. As author Richard Ogle writes in Smart World, “We all routinely rely on a web of social and cultural practices to guide our behavior. … For the most part however we pay little heed to the extent which invisibly shapes how we think.” Think actively about the paradigms you may use in your professional life or examine how the people closest to you think; this can expose some of your own methods of thinking so that you can work to challenge them.
Act like a kid.
For a fresh perspective, think like a child. Imagine children walking down the street: jumping around, hopping, skipping or singing out loud. They are not afraid to do as they please with fearless abandonment. Adults have more self-control, but it can sometimes restrain the formation of new ideas and solutions. Improvisation is one simple way to lessen your self-control. This comedic method reduces the normal filter you use and forces you to create situations without any premeditated thinking. Take a break and try it out with some friends.
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