One of the mechanical gears that will always turn the crank of creativity is the power of imagination. I like to think of the imagination as the fuel for innovation. And when you think about it, all the great things that are surrounding you at this moment – regardless of where you are – were fueled in some way by the imagination of someone. Even if you are hiking in the woods, you are still wearing apparel that gives you comfort on your hike.
Naturally, the next logical step would be learning to utilize your imagination in powerful new ways. All of us have an imagination; it is just that some people have a more active imagination than others have.
Ways to Use the Imagination for Problem Solving
Imagine how things will be after the problem is solved – Live in that world without the problem being there. How will people react and what will they say? Will they offer any clues as to how the problem was solved?
Doing this can serve as two purposes: 1) It can motivate you to push forward for a solution, and 2) It lets you work from the other end of the process – from solution to present.
Look for Assumptions and then Challenge them – If you stop and look for them, you will be amazed sometimes at how many assumptions we make in our daily lives. Occasionally, we need to reexamine some of those and prove to ourselves that they still serve a purpose. One of the best times to do challenge those assumptions is when you are trying to solve a problem.
Spend Time Alone with your Problem – We have alluded to this a few times already in this series, but your mind needs a quiet place where it can relax and sort things out. Relaxation provides the fertile ground for the mind to work.
Quiet Down your Critical Inner Voice – All of us have that critical little voice in our heads that seem to question every little thing we do. Start working on that little voice and slowly work to disarm his or her negative effects. What works best for me is that I imagine a little volume knob in my mind that allows me to adjust the volume of that little voice.
Ways to Use the Imagination for Unlocking Creativity
Start Using Prompts – There are lots of websites out there that will generate random prompts. These are mostly used by writers who practice their craft by writing an impromptu paragraph about the prompt that was generated for them. They keep generating prompts and continuing writing. They might have a daily goal of writing perhaps 5-10 of these paragraphs. It gives them ideas and it allows them to practice writing.
You can do the same with one of these prompt generators. You could write a paragraph or a few sentences if you’d like, or you could just close your eyes and visualize the prompt in some way for a period of time. And then try another prompt. Don’t knock this until you try out – you might be surprised.
Take in the World around You – This is a very good exercise that calls on you to look at the details of the world around you. For instance, on your way to work each morning, try to find something new that you have never noticed before. Or something in any specific surrounding that you are exposed to every day. This practice will strengthen your observation skills.
Expose yourself to New Things – One thing you can do is try driving different routes home from work at least one day a week. Or you could shop at a different grocery store. Or go to a different library. Why not watch a TV show that you have never seen, or attend a community event that you have never attended? The list goes on and on.
Get Rid of the Perfection – No human is perfect, so there is no sense in you trying to be perfect. Get in the habit of not attempting to be so perfect all the time. Give yourself permission to accept the world as it is and that you have the ability to generate high quality ideas from your power of imagination.