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Improve Your Creativity

Improve Your Creativity

There are some aspects of creativity that you just can’t fake.

Some people seem to be born with an eye for the new and the unexpected and the exciting. There’s nothing wrong with conventional thinking; you probably don’t want a doctor or nurse known for an avant-garde attitude! But there are times when we’re confronted by problems without obvious solutions. We have to think outside the box to overcome and make progress. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to approach life more creatively. You might not become a Van Gogh, but these tips might come in handy the next time you encounter a roadblock.

Talk to the experts to expand your horizons.

Experts can be a touch boring, especially when they keep lording their knowledge over you at dinner parties. But they can also be a huge source of inspiration, if you know how to talk to them! Instead of zoning out or looking for a way to interject your own opinion, start listening for opportunities to ask questions. Look for things you don’t understand about what they’re saying or an idea that strikes you as interesting and ask them about it. And when they’re done explaining it, try repeating it back in your own words. You might be surprised by the connections that your brain starts to make. Plus, the person you’re talking to will feel valued and appreciated!

Get bored.

Boredom births creativity.¹ It’s counterintuitive, but it makes sense when you think about it. Your brain likes to be busy. Watching paint dry or reading the phonebook is so dull that (if you actually did those activities) you’d spontaneously start exploring new ideas just to pass the time. Your brain is never less inhibited or less constrained than when you’re performing a mundane task. Clear out some time in your schedule for a boring activity. Maybe (safely!) try voice recording your ideas in the car on your commute to and from work. You might find a long shower is the perfect time to brainstorm and think through problems. Get creative and do something monotonous!

Pick up a creative hobby.

If your schedule is already full and you’re constantly on the move, picking up a hobby might seem kind of pointless. But a hobby can teach you important lessons about creativity that you can’t learn anywhere else. You might learn that performing a beautiful song is composed of dozens of little micro-movements and components that all take time to learn and master. You might learn that painting a stunning landscape starts with a single brushstroke. And you might learn that out-foxing your opponent in chess comes down to your burgeoning ability to imagine a dozen possible outcomes and responding well when things don’t go your way. Clear out some time, talk to an expert, and start creating something just for fun!

Start with the craziest idea first.

Convention is the biggest enemy of creativity. We’ve all had ideas that we’re afraid to share or voice because we think people will think we’re stupid. But being creative is all about seeing potential where no one else can. And that by default means some folks are going to shoot you looks. Overcome all of that by expressing your wildest ideas first. Come out of the gate with a barn burner. Listen to serious feedback and criticisms, but don’t be afraid to voice your ideas. You might just stumble on something brilliant!

These tips may not transform you into a generation-defining sculptor or wordsmith*. But they might just spark the creative edge you need to see problems in a new light and find opportunities where others see danger. So make some time, start some conversations, pick up some hobbies, and start dreaming!

*Please let me know if this article does happen to make you into a generation defining artist of any kind!


¹ “How boredom can make you more productive and creative,” Ivana Fisic, Clockify, Jun 22, 2022 https://clockify.me/blog/managing-time/boredom-can-make-you-more-productive-and-creative/


Embrace Your Boredom

Embrace Your Boredom

Boredom fuels creativity.

Why? Because boredom is profoundly uncomfortable. You can’t ignore it. That itch for something—anything—to fill your attention, your imagination? That’s boredom.

Think about how far people will go to avoid boredom. One study found that it can be so unbearable that most people would rather endure an electric shock than sit alone with their thoughts for 15 minutes.¹

Why do people move to new cities, fly across oceans, skydive, paint masterpieces, or create businesses?

Because they’re bored. Boredom drives people to seek new ideas, experiences, and solutions.

Boredom is a good thing. That’s why always trying to instantly cure it will hamstring your creativity.

Think about the thing you’re probably holding in your hand right now as you read this. It’s the ultimate boredom killer—your phone. Any craving for something new can be instantly extinguished with a viral cat video, trending makeup tutorial, the latest game release, or that life-changing self improvement prompt that will get you out of bed earlier tomorrow.

The solution? Put your phone down and make space for boredom. Block out 15 minutes a day for absolutely nothing. Stare at the wall. Twiddle your thumbs. Above all, let your mind wander. You may be amazed by the thoughts, ideas, and visions you develop to occupy your time.

What great things will you allow your boredom to drive you towards?


¹ “The Unexpected Value of Boredom for Well-Being and Creativity,” Jeffrey Davis M.A., Psychology Today, Jun 30, 2022, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/tracking-wonder/202206/the-unexpected-value-boredom-well-being-and-creativity


Your Workspace May Be Hampering Your Productivity

Your Workspace May Be Hampering Your Productivity

It’s not your imagination—your cramped, beige cubicle might be torpedoing your productivity.

Research has shown time and again that your work environment plays a critical role in your level of focus, analytical thinking, and creativity.

So if you have the freedom to do so, here are a few ways to spice up your workspace to maximize productivity.

Alternate sitting and standing

It turns out that standing desks aren’t just a fad—they can actually boost productivity.

According to Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist at Stanford University, research has shown that halving your sitting time at work can…

  1. Reduce back and neck pain
  2. Boost cognitive performance

And best of all, you don’t need a fancy contraption to make it happen. Simply stack some boxes or books to lift your computer and monitor—voila! Now you have a standing desk.

Maximize lighting

At the start of your day, increasing your light exposure can boost your focus. Why? Because your body and brain are conditioned to respond to sunlight. It’s a powerful trigger that your day has started and you need to get it in gear!

So first thing, go outside and sit in the sun for a few minutes. When you’re in the office, turn on overhead lights, lamps, and ring lights. If you can, work by an open window. You might be surprised by the impact it has on your alertness and focus.

Just be sure to tone down the intensity as the day wears on so your body knows it’s time to settle down, relax, and hit the hay. Bright light exposure when it’s too late can be detrimental to sleep, especially looking at your phone less than an hour before you want to go to bed. The light shining in your eyes tells your body that you need to stay awake.

Leverage ceiling height to switch mental gears

You read that correctly. The height of your ceiling can help you toggle between analytic mode and creative mode.

High ceilings tend to promote creativity and brainstorming. Low ceilings promote analytical thinking.

It’s called the cathedral effect, and for good reason. Think about how you would feel stepping into the Chartres Cathedral vs. say, your basement. One creates awe, wonder, and an appreciation of beauty. The other forces you to zero in on only what’s in front of you, like that load of laundry you forgot about.

So as a rule, try to do your creative thinking in high, open spaces. Do your analyzing in closed, dull, non-distracting spaces.

Try one or two of these strategies over the next week and see if they impact your productivity. I’d love to hear about your results!


Furnish Your Home Without Breaking Your Bank

Furnish Your Home Without Breaking Your Bank

Furnishing your house can be pricey.

One interior decoration blog estimated that decorating a living room from scratch could cost between $14,400 to almost $50,000!(1) The numbers for the dining room, bedrooms, and kitchen are similarly high. Furnishing an apartment averages between $3500-5800.² But is there a better way? How can you save some cash if you’re trying to furnish your home? Here are a few helpful tips to guide your decorating process!

Plan and prioritize

Start by taking stock of what furniture you have that can be used in your new home. Some of it might work in your new home, some of it might not. Try to get an idea of what existing furniture will go where and make note of new items you’ll need.

Arrange your list of new items in order of importance and buy those first. Mattresses for your bedroom? Top of the list. Abstract modern art to hang in your bathroom? Maybe hold off on that until you’ve taken care of the essentials!

Paint

Concerned that your kitchen is a little drab? Worried that your table cloth doesn’t match your dining room? You might be surprised how far a new paint job will get you! It might be a more budget-friendly way to spice up your living situation than tossing all your old furniture out the door, especially if you do it yourself. Things like tables and wooden chairs are all potential candidates for a new coat of paint, as are the walls of your home.

Shop smart

But there’s no doubt that at some point you’ll need to get a new piece of furniture. What then? Cough up and pay a ridiculous price? You might be surprised by the resources available to acquire furniture at a bargain. Local thrift stores can be treasure troves for things like chairs, coffee tables, and bookcases. Craigslist and eBay are also worth investigating, as are estate and garage sales. And you can always scour the curbs for a free sofa if you’re feeling bold!

Furnishing your new house can be fun. It’s a chance to unleash your creativity and make your home a special place. Just make sure you follow these budget-friendly tips before you start indulging!


¹ “Budget Breakdown: How Much Does It Cost To Decorate A Room?” The Kuotes, https://www.kathykuohome.com/blog/budget-breakdown-how-much-does-it-cost-decorate-a-room/

² “The Cost of Furnishing an Apartment: A Step-By-Step Guide With Breakdown Of Furniture Costs,” Bonnie Stinson, Furnishr, Jan 7, 2022 https://furnishr.com/blog/cost-furnishing-apartment/


Passive Income Requires Work

Passive Income Requires Work

“I want passive income!”, said the community of struggling entrepreneurs (and retirees).

“But what exactly is passive income?” they asked. A simple Google search revealed thousands of articles with a common theme—passive income is money you make while you sleep!

But is passive income really possible, or does it just live in the dreams of people looking for a way to make money without working?

To answer that question, let’s look at what passive income is (and isn’t). Then you can see if it will work for you!

Passive income, generally speaking, is a product or service that requires an upfront investment of time, effort, or wealth to create.

Examples include…

- Rental properties that require wealth to purchase, and are cared for by a property manager while creating rental income - Books, music, and courses that required time and creativity to create and now generate income without regular upkeep - Investing wealth in a business as a silent partner and taking a slice of their revenue

Can those income sources generate cash flow while you sleep? Of course! But notice that all of those opportunities require either work or resources that can only be acquired by work.

Does that mean you shouldn’t prioritize passive income sources? No! They can sometimes provide the financial stability you need.

Just don’t expect a passive income stream to effortlessly appear in your lap.

Remember, there is no such thing as free money. All wealth building opportunities require time, effort, and energy to reach their full potential.

If you want to learn more about creating passive income sources, contact me. We can review your talents, your situation, and your dreams to determine smart strategies for developing passive income.


How to Choose a Side Gig

How to Choose a Side Gig

You want to increase your income and be your own boss. Who doesn’t?

You just need the practical know-how to overcome your fears and start the journey.

The goal of this article is to empower you to take bold action.

So turn off the YouTube self-improvement videos and fire up Google Docs. Here’s how to choose the right side gig for you.

Step 1: List your hobbies. Passions can make excellent side gigs. Why? Because they leverage skills you currently have, and are already commanding your attention and interest. Those are critical ingredients for success.

It doesn’t matter how niche or obscure your hobby might be. Write it down. In fact, the more oddball your interest, the more potential you may have to monetize it.

Step 2: Evaluate the market. Simply put, can your skills solve a problem for people? If so, then you have a potential client base at your fingertips.

Those problems may not seem obvious at first. But you may be surprised by what people will pay for your service or product.

Not knowing how to play an instrument is a huge roadblock for music lovers.

Lacking time to decorate, clean, and organize is a persistent dilemma for type A personalities.

Social Media illiteracy is a massive headache for older people starting small businesses.

All of those problems are opportunities to boost your income, if you have the skills to solve them. It just takes some time and creativity to identify problems.

Step 3: Size up the competition. But here’s the catch—there might be hundreds, or even thousands, of others seeking to solve the same problems as you. In fact, your competitors might already have a well-established grip on your target market.

However, if your skills or niche are highly specific, you could have a rare opportunity on your hands that no one is fulfilling, or that no one is fulfilling well. You could eventually scale your side gig income to replace your day job!

This leads to a critical principle for deciding which side gig is right for you…

Opportunity lies at the intersection of high demand and low supply.

The more people demand a service, and the fewer competitors already providing it, the greater your likelihood of success.

There’s just one factor left to consider…

Step 4: Weigh costs against rewards. Starting a business requires a combination of time, effort, and money. No exceptions. The question is whether—and when—the rewards will outweigh the costs.

Starting a car manufacturing business? Good luck—you’ll require a huge amount of capital, and won’t see profits for years.

Refurbing curbside furniture with tools and skills your grandpa left you? Hats off—your startup costs are almost zero, beyond some time and energy.

  • In summary, you want a side gig that…
  • Aligns with your skills and passions
  • Solves a problem for enough people
  • Has few competitors
  • Offers high rewards with low costs

Which side gig fits these parameters for you? Whatever it is, let’s chat about it. We can discuss what it would look like for you to start pursuing it today!


Exercise and Wealth: Which Comes First?

Exercise and Wealth: Which Comes First?

It’s a fact—the wealthy work out. But which came first, the exercise routine or the wealth?

Let’s find out!

A survey of the wealthy revealed that 76% engaged in aerobic exercises for 30 minutes per day, 4 days per week.¹ The same survey revealed that only 23% of the non-wealthy do the same.

So the question isn’t whether the wealthy work out. It’s whether exercise played a role in their journey to financial security.

The connection isn’t as clear as we may like. That’s because correlation doesn’t equal causation. Plenty of wealthy people also read a lot (see my other article on the connection between wealth and reading). But no one would claim that reading alone created their prosperity. The same could be argued for exercise—perhaps the wealthy only found the time to work out after they achieved financial independence!

There’s a host of research that demonstrates the power of exercise to…

  1. Reduce anxiety
  2. Alleviate depression
  3. Stimulate brain activity²

In fact, exercise is as effective as antidepressants in some cases!³ That means exercise may help remove barriers that inhibit your ability to build your goals and achieve your dreams. It can also fuel the creativity you need to help solve problems and increase your potential market value. One study discovered that physical activity in men resulted in a 14-17% increase in income over a 15 year period.⁴

The takeaway? Imitate the wealthy and get some exercise! It’s a non-financial habit that may pave the way to better mental health and help position you to achieve greater things, wealth-related or not.

¹ “Why Is Aerobic Exercise Important to Building Wealth?” Thomas Corley, Rich Habits, Aug 25, 2020, https://richhabits.net/why-is-aerobic-exercise-so-important-to-building-wealth/ ² “The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise,” Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A., HelpGuide.org Oct 2020, https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm# ³ “Exercise is an all-natural treatment to fight depression,” Harvard Health Publishing, Feb 2, 2021, https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-is-an-all-natural-treatment-to-fight-depression ⁴ “8 Daily Rituals Most Millionaires Have In Common,” Lou Carlozo, Money Under 30, Nov 16, 2020 https://www.moneyunder30.com/millionaires-daily-rituals


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