1 Cup Quinoa
1/2 Cup Chopped Organic Green Bell Peppers
1/2 Cup Chopped Organic Mushrooms
1/2 Cup Protein (Lean Turkey/Lean Chicken/Grilled Fish)
1/2 Cup Organic Black Beans
1 Dash of Hot Sauce
This is lunch, every day of the working week. A few office mates think I have screws loose for being so plain. From their perspective my Spartan diet brings unnecessary regimen into a creative space. A space in which we are paid to be innovative.
They’re only half right. Regimen, yes. Unnecessary, not so much.
The Case For Structure
Creativity is muscle. It can be strengthened, it can be expanded, it can even wither if not put to good use. Doses of creativity can be applied to everything from clothing selection to choice of career. When someone tells me, “I’m just not that creative,” I can’t help but take pity knowing someone (not themselves) has drilled that idea into their mind. Where you use your creativity differs. It is a finite resource and not everyone appropriates their ration to the most effective channels.
I met a guy who applies this same “boring lunch” lesson in a different way. He wears the same uniform, his words, to work each day: yellow polo shirt, khaki pants/shorts, brown belt, brown shoes. The structure he applies is not madness, nor is it a lack of style. He has created this structure in his schedule for the sake of efficiency. His uniform is professional, yet simple. It makes his life and laundry duties simpler. Once Monday rolls around, he has no need to ask himself what he’ll wear. He knows what he’s wearing and he knows he’ll look acceptable.
Structure helps you save creativity for the things that matter most.
Spending all day being creative can be a draining task, ask any knowledge worker. Constant creativity requires a dive below the surface and a knowledge of your respective space. It requires you to think outside the box and to color outside the lines. Even before that, you have to see the box and identify said lines. To last in the creative space, you have to keep pushing boundaries and trying new ideas. The boldness to step outside those lines is something that requires gall, it’s a risk.
Being Boring Forces You To Take More Risks
If you try something new, you’re considered creative. If you try something new, you’re considered a risk taker. This can apply to entrepreneurs, artists, coaches, or anyone looking to add some risk to their lives. Creativity and risk taking, are synonymous. In this example, I’ll treat them as such.
Let’s say you get your creative fix by painting in the evenings. If you spend your time picking out the most clever mix of clothes, a fantastically unique lunch, creating a new workout at the gym, and a scouring the town for a hip spot to grab a drink afterwards, you’ll probably get your fix of “risk-taking” throughout the day. There’s no need to take risks when it come to the canvas, you’ve been doing it all day.
Contrast the above scene with a person who puts themselves through a series of relatively monotonous routines. Same simple lunch, same boring workout, same easy route home. Like a pent up animal ready to tear open their cage, the canvas doesn’t stand a chance.
Forcing a boring lifestyle diverts creativity into other activities. You can use it throughout your day in small doses or you can save it up for a few big blowouts. I prefer the latter. It’s helped me step out on a ledge to write a book, join meetups, start (and stop) businesses, and enjoy a more robust life in the most counterintuitive way.
Daily Rituals Can Spark Creative Risks
The book Daily Rituals outlines the routines of 161 creatives. Not surprisingly, nearly every one of them had a very rigid set of self-imposed rules they followed. These artists would set strict schedules for themselves, always making time for their canvas/typewriter/art. This structure didn’t give them a choice, they had to sit and work. No matter how tired they were of their task, they found ways to keep pushing the limits, taking new risks. It’s an easy read and it helps give some ideas on ways to add structure to your own day.
If you find it difficult to take more risks, try adding some routines to your schedule. Force yourself into monotony and be disciplined about sticking to the schedule. When you can hardly stand it any longer and you’re sick of the same thing over and over again, you’ll be ready for something new in your life, you’ll be ready to take more risks.
How do you force yourself to take more risks?
Leave a comment below or chat with me on Twitter.
Have a great rest of the week!