I believe tapping into our creativity is one of the quickest paths to growth, vitality, satisfaction and joy as we age.
We’ve all got creativity—every single one of us.
In my life, I’ve often worked with “creatives,” including all kinds of artists, entrepreneurs, storytellers, writers—you name it. I’ve helped these creatives increase their productivity and make even more fantastic work.
I’m also an artist myself. So over the years, I’ve developed some perspective on what encourages creativity and what gets in the way of that expression.
And you know what I think the #1 thing that gets in the way of creativity is? The concept of “talent.”
In our society, we often hear that some people are “talented” and others are not. This false idea covers up the fact that creativity and artistic expression are available to all of us.
Not just the “artists.” Not just the “talented.” But every single one of us.
We all have incredible creativity—whether we’ve practiced expressing it or not. We also have a unique perspective on the world that is each of ours alone and not replicated anywhere else.
Creativity is our birthright. It’s part of what keeps us evolving, growing, exploring and happy no matter what age we happen to be. That means blocking out those negative messages that stop us from expressing our creativity.
Here are a few ways to start exploring that creativity—and rediscover what artistic expression is possible as you age…
Focus on craft.
If you’re working in any artistic form—writing, music, painting, pottery, flower arranging, interior design—that art form has a basic set of craft principles. These craft principles are concrete things that can be taught, learned and practiced.
Just knowing that any artistic form involves some principles takes a lot of the pressure off. It means we’re not expected to master that craft the first time we try it.
We’re not supposed to already know how to do it or be good at it. We understand that learning any craft takes practice.
As we age, it helps us continually grow and evolve when we take on new creative challenges like this.
For you, perhaps that means picking up a paintbrush and taking art lessons for the first time—in your 50s.
For you, perhaps that means picking up a paintbrush and taking art lessons for the first time—in your 50s. Or attending a writing workshop to learn the principles behind poetry—in your 60s. Or maybe, in your 70s, learning a new form of dance so you can continue to refine your dancing skills.
But whatever you try, keep in mind that each art form involves a set of principles. That means it’s all a matter of practice.
Embrace the mess. It’s part of the process.
When I’m writing something new, I don’t even call the first version of it a “first draft.” I call it a “bad draft”—and not because I’m judging it! I call it the “bad draft” to remind myself that the first version of anything beautiful is always a mess. That’s just how it is.
Art is always a mess in the beginning—it’s supposed to be. To nip my inner perfectionist in the bud, I always remind myself to embrace the “bad.” Embrace the mess. Don’t expect it to come out “good” right away.
Know that the act of creating something, in itself, is a triumph and victory. There’s plenty of time to make it look the way you want it to—that’s the “practice” part.
That messy creative process can also help us grow and evolve in ways we might never have imagined—until we actually experience it.
Know that vulnerability is part of creativity.
Every single person who does creative work feels vulnerable about it. Every single one.
You can read interviews with movie stars, famous musicians, great painters, successful entrepreneurs, legendary choreographers—and hear every single one of them talk about imposter syndrome. They all mention times when they felt they had no idea what they’re doing, and felt frustrated with their creative work.
Every single human being who engages in the creative process feels vulnerable about it at one point or another. None of us is exempt.
So if you feel vulnerable, if you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing—welcome to the creativity club. We don’t have to be free from those feelings to step into our creativity. We just have to engage with our creativity anyway.
Tell us: What do you love to do that’s creative? Are you a painter? A knitter? A sculptor? A musician? A writer? A gardener? A chef? A dancer? A problem solver who makes things happen? Or something entirely different?