Recently I’ve noticed something about myself: I don’t have the mental bandwidth to be creative outside of my working hours anymore. I love my job, and I’m thankful that I get to write, edit, and create content for a living. I’m not complaining about it at all. I’ve just noticed that now when I’m done with the day I still have a desire to be creative but no will to actually do anything all that creative.
After some reflection, I realized I was being narrow-minded when it comes to the definition of creativity. I assumed that just because I can’t write in my free time or don’t have the drive to develop good painting or music skills, I’m somehow failing creatively. However, creativity is vast and finds itself in many unexpected places, and once I realized that, I found another major way to sprinkle creativity into my personal life without feeling burned out.
Like nearly everyone else, my 2020 fitness goals did not go as planned. So for 2021 I wanted to make a splash. Toward the end of this year, I’ll be turning 25 – how do I want to celebrate? At the moment, I’m aiming for the most athletic thing I’ve ever tried: running a half-marathon. I’ve never been good at running, so where would I even start? Well… I just started. I found that while I wasn’t doing much, I enjoyed the mental aspect more than the physical aspect of running. And I found that the routes I offered an opportunity to inject my creativity to have a fun and unexpected run.
Don’t run from it – run with it
I started (unknowingly, at the time) training in November, but I’ve really kicked it into gear this year. What I found is that I stop enjoying my runs when I’ve run the same route multiple weeks in a row. The solution? Simple! I change up my route every week or two. This way while I’m running I have plenty of things to look at and occupy my mind while I’m training.
I know that this doesn’t come off immediately as creative, but I have to constantly make new routes in order to keep going strong week by week.
Sometimes I’ll run through the neighborhoods by the place I live, sometimes I’ll run along the main road where there’s more traffic, and sometimes I’ll find a parking lot and just run back and forth there.
Every time, my body is dealing with different running environments: sometimes it’s hills, or unconventional paths, or it’s flat with not much going on (hint: running in a parking lot). So while I am having difficulty writing outside of my normal work-life, I’ve injected creativity into how I spend my lunch break — running!
Mid-run I’ll discover a previously unknown path and take that instead of what I thought I was going to take. The result? A fun run that shows me a new part of my community while getting in shape. This creativity in my free time has also helped me inject some new creative life into my professional work as well.
The Cycle of Creativity
So now when I come back from my run during my lunch break and shower, I’m ready to get creative and work hard for the second half of my day. I feel revitalized and I avoid the after-lunch slump. This improves so much about my day and I feel creatively satisfied, both personally and professionally. The break boosts my productivity — the run/walk/run approach delivers!
What’s ahead on your creative path? It was running for me, but it might be different for you. Maybe you find your creative route while biking or maybe in the food you cook. Whatever it is, there are a lot of places to pour your creativity out into the world! Looking for inspiration? Read others’ experiences of finding creativity in unlikely or unexpected places in this blog, this blog, and this blog!