Want to be more creative? Develop these 3 powerful qualities!

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Don’t we all want to be more creative? Wouldn’t it be great to just snap our fingers and have unique ideas flow like a waterfall? It’s not always that easy. Usually creative ideas are born out of the loving union of our imagination and our experience. However, there’re three main qualities which could help us develop this amazing and desirable skill called creativity. Open-mindedness, discipline and focus.

Let’s look at each one of them individually.

Open-mindedness

This one is rather predictable.  Whenever we think about creativity, we assume it’s connected with out-of-the-box mentality. We hear so much talk about getting out of our comfort zone, trying new things, enjoying new experiences. I personally have been talking about it a lot in the last few years.

Open-mindedness is a quality which allows us to see the world without limits and peer through the walls of normality. It breaks barriers and opens new doors for us.

How much of this quality do you possess and how much do you need to develop it? If you often find yourself disagreeing with people, striving to prove your point and thinking you’re always right, there’s a chance you need to work on being more open-minded.

My biggest desire and challenge these days is to destroy the borders of my imagination. I always used to think within the limits of social conventions and almost never allowed myself to break those barriers. Join me on this new path.

It’s a journey of reaching the heights of creativity, utilizing our uniqueness and giftedness. My personal journey started some time ago, but there’s still so much work to be done! What about you?

Discipline

There’s so much to be said about the importance of discipline! Why do you think it’s crucial for our creativity? Shouldn’t we feel free from schedules and deadlines if we want to create efficiently? The answer is “no”.

Ask people of art how much work they postpone every day. Once I heard that writers are the biggest procrastinators in the world. A lot of them say that without discipline they would never have had anything done.

More than a year ago I started my own war with procrastination. It took me awhile to discipline myself to wake up earlier in the morning, read more, eat less sweets and stop putting work off till tomorrow. This is an ongoing war with some battles won and some of them lost, but I will never give up striving for better self-discipline and stronger willpower.

Focus

This quality is extremely important for those of us hoping and dreaming to create something extraordinary. Whether you need to come up with the best solution or idea for your project, or you’re working on a book, focus will save the day for you.

Have you ever tried to brainstorm for ideas when there are people walking around in your office? Do you tend to plan your days in such a way that there’s almost no quiet time for thinking and generating ideas? This has been one of my biggest challenges so far.

Apparently, if you want to come up with something truly unique, you must get into a flow. And it’s impossible to get into this special state of flow if you can’t focus and are always distracted.

So, here are a few ways to get focused:

  1. Listen to the music without words. Research shows that classical music stimulates creativity and brain activity whereas music with beat will increase your productivity.
  2. Schedule several hours of time for your creative brainstorming sessions with yourself or your teammates. If it’s a priority for you, allocate special time for it.
  3. Change the environment. Get our of your office and go to a cafe. You will be surprised how productive you become when you have only an hour and nobody from your office is around.
  4. Make sure you have enough sleep because your brain won’t work normally if it requires more rest than you usually give it. It will eventually shut down and you’ll need a cup of coffee or a nap.
  5. Remind yourself why this work is important for you. When you motivate yourself with your own WHY, it’s easier to fight distractions and get focused on your work or on your creative process.

As for me, I’ve been using all of these methods. The first and the third have been most effective in my case. What about you? What helps you focus?

Please share how you became more open-minded, disciplined and focused. I would like to hear about your journey.

 

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How Not To Give Up On Your Goals

25564102680_83844b1d7f_kThe first month of 2018 is coming to an end. Every beginning is exciting and inspiring! We’re full of motivation and hope. We believe we can move mountains, but then life happens. What keeps you from reaching your goals and fulfilling your new year resolutions?
Here’re a few ideas from my own experience how not to give up and stay motivated:
1.  Find a friend who would become your accountability partner. You can meet once or twice a month to share your goals and then report on them.
Last year one of my new friends became a huge blessing for me in this area. She inspires me to stay on track, be more organized and continue moving forward.
2.  Choose one social media to report on your goals to all your friends and followers.
One of my acquaintances decided to report each run on Twitter so that all his followers would keep him accountable. It helped him train for and then run several marathons and half-marathons.
3. Set realistic goals and make sure they’re relevant and important for you a few months later.
Sometimes we set a goal, but then in a few months it seems unimportant. We lose motivation and of course give up on it. Make sure it doesn’t happen with you.
4. Use Stickk.com to keep you accountable.
There’re actually several other websites which operate similarly and have the same purpose. They are set up in such a way, that you have to pay money to a charity or anti-charity if you don’t accomplish your goal by a certain day. In my case it’s www.stickk.com. It’s been incredibly helpful! I used for four of my goals, and it proved to be exceptionally effective.
These are just a few ideas. I’m sure you have other tips of your own. Please share with me, what do you do to stay motivated? What helps you stay on track and not give up on your goals?

Do You Still Rush while Traveling?

img_5136Sometimes I have a bad habit when traveling to new places. I run around trying to capture everything on my iPhone camera which is far from perfect. The desire to save this moment of beauty for future enjoyment is inspired by the magnificence of the view. Although, what I don’t realize it might be worth it to just stop and take in all the exquisiteness I’m surrounded with.

Perhaps, if I remember to enjoy every possible moment, the imprint of it in my memory would be much brighter than the photo. Don’t take me wrong, I admire photographers and their amazing ability to see the world. It’s my own way of rushing through life and its beauty that I sometimes regret.

Not that long ago I came back from the trip to Europe. We visited 5 countries in 10 days and got to see a lot of fascinating places. Unfortunately, I had to limit the number of excursion I went to due to the amount of work that had to be done while being on the trip.  However, it turned out to be a great blessing for me.

I had a chance to take a break from all the sightseeing, go sit at a cafe and enjoy my quiet computer work while observing people around me. My first such experience was in Prague.

jan HusHave you ever been to Prague? The Old Town Square and Charles Bridge create the illusion of being in a fairy-tale. The old astronomical clock is right there, around the corner playing its music every hour. The statue of Jan Hus impresses you with its seriousness and grandeur.

Two in Prague

A group of students gathered in the middle of the square deciding what to do next. Two young men found a place on the ground and placed their beer and food between them on the curb. Their relaxed postures exude freedom and independence.

Then we were in Strasbourg, France. We had a few hours in the city, and I was lucky to find a nice little cafe outside with chairs facing a picturesque bridge. Two young women probably in their 30s were having a glass of wine at a café. They had come there by bikes which means they’re most likely local.

There’s a muslim couple carrying big bags and arguing about something. They had just been to a mall and probably bought a few new clothes. A man with a backpack walked by – he’s definitely a tourist slowly looking around, taking it all in, enjoying the old city of Strasbourg.

After that we went to Geneva and Zurich, then Salzburg, Vienna and Budapest. And every city gave me an opportunity to find a quiet place to work while observing people and enjoying local cappuccino or a glass of wine.

22053071_10155717220076613_1973212020_nHave you ever thought why we love to watch other people so much? What is it about seeing them interact with each other that fascinates us so much? It’s incredibly interesting! It’s like real life TV. And every person has a story to tell.

Next time you’re traveling, try not to rush from one landmark to another with a camera, but stop somewhere and simply observe people. Give them a chance to share their stories with you. You will be surprised how much you can learn from and get inspired by those stories. Your life will become richer, deeper and much more interesting.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me, do you travel fast or slowly? What do you like to do the most when you’re in a new place?

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My friend Maia spotted me with a camera in a cafe in Zurich.

5 Reasons You Should Develop Creativity

P18A9669You were born to create, just like you were born to walk and run. When you were crawling as a baby, making your first attempts to walk, your parents didn’t say: “Oh, it’s ok. Maybe, it’s just not for you.” No, they helped you learn how to start walking. In the same way, we should develop creativity and stop thinking – it’s not for us, it’s for those special ones with incredible talent.

Have you noticed how fast life is changing nowadays? It seems that only yesterday we were all using regular cell-phones and considered it an amazing advancement in technology. Today, we carry the whole computer in a form of a smartphone in our pocket. A few decades ago the term “virtual reality” made us think of science-fiction. Nowadays, it’s a part of our life, and it’s not going anywhere.

All these changes and inventions were brought into our world by creative minds. Do you think they were special in some way? Of course, but so are YOU!

topic_steve_jobsRemember, what Steve Jobs said: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” They weren’t particularly special, they were just ready to make mistakes, learn, try, fail, and try again.

So, in our rapidly-changing world a lot of jobs will soon be done by machines. There’s one big challenge that still exists for all artificial intelligence – to think creatively. Therefore, those who don’t develop the skill of creativity will soon become obsolete like the old bulky desk-top computers or VHS players.

Okay, let’s look at 5 main benefits of creativity. They are all interconnected and sometimes are the consequence of each other.

Problem solving

If you know the right techniques, if you’ve learned to think critically and creatively, it will be easy for you to make the right choices and find the right solutions. Generating ideas on demand becomes easy as soon as you’ve reached a certain level of skill development.

For example, when you’re learning a second language, at first it’s hard and almost seems impossible to speak fluently. After you’ve worked on developing this skill, after a lot of practice, it becomes a part of your nature. You speak freely, understand everything and even think in your target language.

Just think, how great it would be to always know what to do, solve problems with ease and generate the creative ideas whenever you need them.

Successful Career

When you’re a creative person, a problem solver who can think ‘outside the box’, you’re an irreplaceable person in any company.

Dream of starting your own business? Believe me, idea generation will be a normal, almost routine part of your life as an entrepreneur.

If you’re a book writer or a content creator, a few simple techniques will help you get out of a creative block. I’m sure you had moments when it seemed like you couldn’t access your inner creativity. Try several exercises and techniques that worked for so many people, and ideas will flow freely like water in a valley stream.

Successful relationships

Another important part of our life is relationships. We were created to live in communication with others. There’s no way to escape that unless you want to live on a deserted island. At the same time, when we’re with people arguments occur.

Creative thinking always helps us find the right solution to a problem, choose the best way and offer the winning idea. Persuasion skills come hand in hand with creativity skills, and there’s no doubt our relationships can only benefit from that.

Finally, creative ideas could make your love life deeper, more exciting and more harmonious.

Confident personality

The ability to create something incredible comes only when you’re ready to fail. Every well-known genius had failed in his life before he created something magnificent. If you’re not ready to make mistakes, admit them, learn from them and move on, you won’t be able to create anything great.

Do you know what breeds confidence? Confucius said – education, Dale Carnegie said – action. I will add – failure. When you discover that failure is part of the process, it gives you confidence and motivation to keep going. Are you afraid to fail? Do nothing and you will see how your confidence will disappear.

One of my students said the biggest benefit she got from my creativity course was confidence in her abilities to come up with creative ideas. Before she had thought it was impossible for her. Now she understands there is a clear step-by-step process to develop creativity and generate ideas.

Health Benefits

Did you know that creative work improves your health? In this Scientific American article, “researchers found that only creativity—not intelligence or overall openness—decreased mortality risk. One possible reason creativity is protective of health is because it draws on a variety of neural networks within the brain.”

Other researches show that creativity relieves stress, improves mood, heals from depression, helps prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia. The benefits for health are numerous. Just think about all positive emotions you had last time you came up with a great idea. Or remember the happy eyes of your child after drawing something or making something out of clay.

Bringing it all together

Never stop creating, never stop learning. You can develop creativity, you just need to find motivation to do that. Believe in yourself! You were born to create, so, get up on your feet and stop crawling! It’s time to develop this most important skill in our modern constantly evolving world.

Here’s an awesome FREE guide to develop creativity and generate ideas on demand. It’s a 7-step process that helped me and thousands of other people. Follow this link to download the guide.

Now, it’s your turn. Which of the benefits is most important for you? Which of the reasons would convince you to start developing creativity? Share in the comments below.

Enjoy Life!

 

 

 

 

 

You ARE Creative – and don’t tell me you’re not!

If there’s one most important fact I can tell people about creativity, it’s that all of us are creative just in different ways. The saddest thing I hear over and over from my friends and students (most of whom have become my friends) is, “I’m not creative.” That is SO not true!

Read Ken Robinson, Betty Edwards, Michael Michalko and many others who are saying – we all have this quality. Creativity is a skill that needs to be developed. It’s like reading or writing. You wouldn’t tell a child who doesn’t read very well, “Well, it’s just not for you. It’s not your thing.” No, you would encourage a child to keep practicing and finally achieve a certain level of literacy. The same with creativity. We all have it, in some of us it’s hidden and needs to be found. Learn how to tap into your creativity and unleash that incredible potential.

Some people are creative in art, others in business. Some will find better solutions in math, others in relationships with people. There are inventions in science and new approaches on construction sites.

Stop thinking you’re not creative. This attitude poisons your future and kills your opportunities. Instead, believe in yourself, in your ability to generate ideas, and start doing your best to develop this incredible skill!

3 Best Ways To Start Thinking In A Foreign Language

Are you currently learning any foreign language? Do you think in that language or still translate every sentence in your head?

I have been an English learner for more than 30 years and an English teacher for more than 17 years. At first, of course, it was impossible to think in English. However, the more time I spent learning it, the easier it became to make English my second native language. Now I think mostly in English, and my dreams are often in English too.

So, I do believe it’s possible to start thinking in a foreign language if your goal is to master it and not just learn a few phrases for traveling. Here are a few ways to do that:

1. Every day spend at least 30 min doing something in your target language.

You may do your hometask, read or write something, watch a movie or communicate with a native speaker. I am saying “30 min”, but the main thing here is consistency. The more time you spend doing something in your target language, the faster you will master it. Start small and increase the time as you go.

2. Whenever you put your thoughts on paper, do it in your target language.

If you like journaling, do it in a language that you’re learning. If you like to make plans, write down your goals, do it in your target language. You will be sending signals to your brain saying that this is the language you want to start thinking in.

3. Whenever you are trying to express your thoughts, choose the easiest words and structures.

Don’t take me wrong, I think to say that you’ve mastered the language, means you can use complex structures and advanced vocabulary. Although, don’t forget a very important universal rule, my friends: baby-steps! You can achieve a lot if you take small steps but regularly and consistently. I’ve seen it so often when people start translating complicated sentences from their native language and get stuck because they don’t have enough vocabulary and don’t know all grammar structures. Give yourself a break! Choose simple words that come to your mind for now. There will be times after you have read tons of books in your target language when your speech will become sophisticated and you will be able to impress your audience!

These are the main rules. I will continue this topic later and will be adding more ideas and methods for you. We could definitely add the importance of reading and watching movies in your target language, but it seems too obvious. So, let’s just stop at these three for now. Baby-steps :)! Enjoy!

 

 

 

How to Effectively Combine Work and Rest

If you’re an achiever like me, you will understand this obsessive need to always stay productive. We all know that relaxation and distraction are important for our brain. Although, a lot of us keep feeling guilty when we’re not doing something related to work or personal development.

So, there are solutions for people like us. We can combine rest and work. You might tell me it doesn’t work because we should completely focus whether on one thing or on another for them to be effective. And I will disagree. It’s pretty easy to do both things if your work doesn’t require a lot of thinking and your entertainment is not too distracting.

Here are a few ideas:
1. You are watching a movie with your friends, family or by yourself. You have seen this movie before or it’s so light that it doesn’t require a lot of attention to keep track. So, you find some work to do that also doesn’t require too much thought. It could be typing in some information, ironing, folding, cleaning your inbox, reorganizing your desktop or folders in your computer, editing pictures, etc.
2. You’re out with friends or family and have to wait for someone in the car or at the lobby – get a piece of paper and a pen or open your smartphone. But don’t go to Facebook or Instagram. This is the time for brainstorming ideas, writing to-do lists or making preliminary plans. You will have to review everything you’ve written later, but this will be a great start.
3. Are you flying internationally or waiting at the airport for your next flight? Reading is a great and a very productive way of spending this precious time. You can also write blogs or make notes for future projects if you’ve got a few hours of uninterrupted time. I am actually writing this on the plane from Minneapolis to Amsterdam.
4. There are a few applications for smartphones that I consider very useful. They can be entertaining as well as very helpful for our personal growth and development. My favorite ones are Lumosity and Elevate. You can use any game that helps learn a language or develop some skill. It’s fun and productive!
5. And the last one is really important because it requires a change of our mindset. When you’re watching a movie, traveling to another country, resting on a beach, eating at a restaurant, be always on the watch for ideas. They are all around you, you just need to open your eyes and be ready to see them. Keep record of all ideas that come to your mind even if they seem crazy or mundane. One day you might get back to them and find a genius one that you discarded before.

See? Our vacation time can be very productive and effective. Don’t waste your time in life, we haven’t got that much of it. Having said that I’ll add that it’s absolutely crucial to find some time for relaxation, distraction and unwinding. Our brain needs that to be able to function normally and generate ideas.

Enjoy all your weekends and vacation time, and learn how to put off work and just rest sometimes.