It’s not always easy to be creative. We all have creative colleagues who blow us away with their creativity and their ability to come up with unique solutions, and we’re often quick to discount our own creativity. But perhaps that lack of confidence isn’t entirely our fault. For example, Sir Ken Robinson, an international authority on arts education, believes that we are all born with high levels of creativity. Those creative urges become harder and harder to keep up, though, as we progress through an educational system that prioritizes conformity.
Adding to that, engineer and designer David Kelley, founder and chairman of the legendary design firm IDEO, knows firsthand how easy it is to have our creative confidence crushed and how difficult it can be to rebuild. It all stems, Kelley maintains, from our fear of judgment: others are bound to be critical of our creative choices, and it can wear down the confidence (and motivation) of even the most thick-skinned individual.
So the question looms: how can you boost your creative confidence and keep it at a high level? How can you feel positive about your own creativity so that when the time comes to lay some innovative solutions on the table, you have the self-assuredness to step up and put your ideas out there? There’s no one right answer, of course, but if you get into some good, positive habits, you’ll be able to improve your creative confidence. Here are five to get you started.
- Focus on your creative successes.
You can shore up your confidence on a regular basis by reflecting on the good creative solutions you’ve come up with. Remind yourself that you’ve been successful in the past, and that you can do it again in the future! While it’s true that future success isn’t a given, it’s important to remember that, like David Kelley says, you can’t let your little setbacks crush you. Start ahead of the game by reminding yourself that no matter what, you have the potential to be successful with your creative abilities.
- Take full advantage of your peak creative times.
Many people do their best and most creative thinking first thing in the morning. For others, they’re most creative late at night when the world is quiet. For a lucky few, their creativity actually peaks during work hours. Try to pay attention to when you’re able to be most creative, and then take advantage of that! Set aside that block of time as often as you can (at least a few times a week) to work on problems that need creative solutions.
- Try to be creative in a new way.
If you’re able to flex your creative muscles in new ways, you’ll build them up to the point where setbacks and challenges won’t hit you as hard. Step out of your comfort zone and try a new creative task: try drawing, painting, writing, dancing, singing, or something else that isn’t normally in your repertoire. If you see that you can be creative in new and different ways, you’ll be more confidence in trying new approaches when they really count.
- Surround yourself with other creative people.
The creativity of others can be incredibly inspiring. Much like you’d join a networking group to get ahead in your career, consider joining a creative activity group to get ahead creatively. Take a drawing class, shoot with a photography group, join a writers’ club, spend an hour or so in a paint your own pottery studio, or even take part in one of the sip and paint activities that seem to be popping up all over. (Bonus on the last one: there’s wine involved.) When you’re around other creative people, you allow your own creativity to grow.
- Give yourself time to daydream.
If you’re always working, tending to obligations, and keeping commitments, there’s no time to let your imagination unfurl. Creativity needs time — you need time to relax, think about possibilities, and let your mind just wander. You might go for a walk in a beautiful spot, as getting back to nature is always good for getting creative thoughts flowing. Of course, be sure to record any good ideas that come to you: write them down in a small notebook, peck out a few notes on your smartphone, or even take advantage of a voice recorder app.
Get Confident, Stay Confident
It’s easy to become discouraged about your creative abilities, especially if you’re surrounded by people who seem to be naturally creative. Still, the successes and judgments of others shouldn’t diminish your own creative confidence. Try incorporating these five habits; we think they’ll keep to keep your creative confidence high. Additionally, it’s well worth 12 minutes of your time to watch David Kelley’s wonderful TED talk from 2012 on how to build creative confidence.