Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Creativity in practice

A classic mistake in career decision making make is to take a possible new career - let's say psychology - and then reject it because we don't like  the psychology-related job ads we read in the paper.

Because we generally know what we don't like, but are far less clear about what we do like, the new option is easily discounted because it ticks more negative boxes than positive.  As Dan Gilbert argues, we don't compare the past with future  possibility on equal terms.

This was the mistake made by yours truly about 6 years ago.  It cost me a year of inaction and further pointless deliberation. 

However, if I had been willing to sit with my interest in psychology, imagine its possibilities, and not worry so much about my thoughts at the time (i.e. 'this is a waste of time!') then I could have set off on my path earlier.  That's time I'll never get back.

If you're in this position, can you notice the urge to get rid of options and to close down creative thought?  Could you be willing to go deeper into an option you're not sure about?   Play with it?  Cross it with something else (try my Creative Problem Solving booklet for ideas here).  Can you try inventing a story that includes the option?  Or imagine yourself at 80 having tried at it and succeeded?

As this fascinating study shows, thinking from these perspectives allows self understanding to develop at a more abstract level. 

Your mind won't enjoy it - it will protest this is a waste of time and you should be analysing your options.  But if your mind really knew best then you wound't be looking to change career.


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