How To Be Creative at Any Age



“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” — C.S. Lewis

Don’t just grow up.  Grow better.

Creativity is one of the most powerful skills in the world that you could possible develop.  Like Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Creativity is the backbone of innovation.

And innovation is how we solve the world’s problems from education to poverty to sickness.

But even if you aren’t out solving the world’s problems, you can use creativity to solve your own problems right in your own backyard, and inspire others to do the same.

We can all become better innovators and get more creative with age, if we know how.

Why Become More Creative with Age

Creativity helps you achieve.  Creativity empowers you.  And being creative allows you to live your freedom by thinking and acting with deep expression of your purpose and values in an authentic way.

You’re not going to innovate by thinking the same old thoughts or doing the same safe things, or reinforcing the way things have always been done, or blocking new ideas by limited or negative thinking that reinforces the status quo and the way things have always been done.

You innovate by thinking creatively and by challenging and exploring the art of the possible.

You just never know who will create the latest breakthrough or big idea that just might change the way we see the world or how we show up in the world or how we interact with our world.

It’s easy to limit your potential by limiting your own creativity, especially as you age, if you let habits and routines lock you into the thinking and ways of the past.

Your past is not your box.  Your past is not your cage.  Your past is fuel for your potential.

The more experience you have under your belt, the more you have to draw from.

And creativity is the key to fully expressing your full range of potential in any situation.

Your full potential only truly shines when you show up with all of you at the table.   And your greatest potential comes from the combination and synthesis of your skills, talents, and experience that only truly happens at the highest levels when you let your imagination soar.

Let your voice be a deep reflection of your creative genius at play.

The Creative Mindset

Your ability to become more creative starts with your mindset.  You simply have to believe that you can be more creative and that it’s worth being creative.

The creative mindset is this:

You embrace possibility.

Think of creativity as “child’s play” and embrace your inner child for life.

Like Picasso put it:

“Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Don’t just grow up.  Grow more creative.

Attributes of Creativity

In the book, Create in a Flash, Roger L. Firestien, PH.D., shares attributes of creativity:

  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Openness
  • Novel and new

Firestien contrasts those creative attributes with attributes of aging.  When you think of aging, you might think of somebody set in their ways.  You might think of them as traditional or old-fashioned or even outdated thinking.

But that’s not you unless you choose to be.  Agility sets you free:

Eyes forward, mind open, learn and adapt.

It might sound simple, and it is.  It’s simple in theory, tougher in practice, but like anything, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Learn your way forward and love the path of realizing your potential.

5 Habits to Grow More Creative as You Age

Firestien, PH.D., shares the 5 essential ingredients for becoming more creative based on Dr. Jennifer Gippel, who researches creativity and aging.

  1. Imagination – Although we slow down as we get older, our ability to imagine something new and different is ever-present.  One way to stimulate imagination is to do something new every day.
  2. Attitude – A person can choose to pursue new ideas and new ways of doing things.  Choose to view unexpected or undesired outcomes as enrichment — experiences to learn from – rather than failure.
  3. Knowledge – Knowledge and experience are the fuel for creativity.  Knowledge grows with age.  Follow your expertise and passion to learn more and continue to gain experiences, even in later years.
  4. Environment – The spaces where we spend time affect creativity.  Surround yourself with people who support your ideas.  Make a place to be creative, and design it so that it inspires your creative thinking.
  5. Time – Time is essential for creative thought.  One of the things that older people often have it time.  Use that time to follow your passions and even look for new ones.

While these habits might seem more pragmatic than profound, that the beauty.  The practice of and the combination of these habits can turn into profound results.

Imagine the new, more creative you.

Advice for a Living a Long and Creatively Productive Life

I find it helps to back things up with a story to make the idea more relatable.  What better story than a story of somebody who found their creative genius later in life, when they least expected it.

Firestien shares a story of his mother.  Here are a few highlights of the story of how Firestein’s mother got her creative groove on:

“In 2004, Ruth’s husband of 52 years was killed in a car accident.  One might expect tragedy to slow down the creative process, or at least reduce creative productivity.  But for Ruth, create creative productivity actually increased.”

I didn’t know what to do with myself.  It was really hard.  I had all of this extra time.  After Chuck died, I came across this pattern that we bought years ago when Chuck and I stopped at a quilt shop in Estes Park, CO.  It was for stuffed bears.  I decided to make bears out of Chuck’s old clothes. 

I made bears for my daughter and my son.  I also made pillow tops out of his old ties.  Ruth’s memorial bears became so popular that she made 10 more out of the clothes of relatives and friends that had passed away.

Get involved with your church or other organizations.  Join a club.  Always have a project in mind.  I usually have two or three projects going at one time.  I alternate between three swing machines and each one is for a different project.  Don’t just sit around on your butt and do nothing.”

Your Creativity Muscles Need Practice to Thrive

Your creative muse just needs a chance to practice and some more time to play.  Play around with possibilities and play at what’s possible.

Your imagination is a terrible thing to waste.

Play with your problems to play with your potential.

Firestien writes:

“Like our physical bodies, our creativity muscles need practice to thrive — and that doesn’t mean just for artistic creativity.  This includes the tools we need for creative problem solving on the job and in our day-to-day life.”

Creativity Thrives When Leaders Leverage Perspectives, Age, and Background

A big advantage you will have, if you use it, is your wealth of experience, if you don’t let the curse of knowledge get in your way.

Sometimes you need to start with a beginner’s mind.

But in many cases, it’s really just about beginning to see things in new ways, exactly because of your perspective and experience.

Firestien writes:

“Leaders, how does this relate to you?  In our culture of youthful emphasis and focus on cutting edge resources, remember that innovation and creativity thrives when it comes from a variety of perspectives, ages, and backgrounds.  Don’t discount your seasoned employee’s contributions.  Their experience is invaluable.”

BTW… your creative muse has been listening and watching this whole time.  They are ready to come out and play.   Will you let them?

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