Creativity Tool Tuesday: 4 Reasons why exercise supports your creative life and why it's important
Like running fast or long, creativity doesn't happen by accident. It takes consistency, discipline and hard work. We so often look at the work of others and think that they're so talented and we wrongly assume that talent means it's easy for them, when that's just not the case. Talent is when someone takes their passion and works hard to cultivate it. Talent doesn't mean easy.
Creativity is critical to your success in every aspect of life. Whether it’s spending time with your family, climbing the corporate ladder, achieving big personal goals like running a marathon, writing a book or building a business. Even the most seemingly mundane jobs need your creative juices to be flowing in order for you to be a success! Think about it, maybe you’re an accountant for a big corporate company and you come up with a way to save the company money, this takes creative thinking! Maybe you dream of being the CEO of your organization so you plan out different ways to meet everyone on the corporate leadership team so they know who you are and what your brand is. That’s creativity, just as much as it’s creative to set aside 30 minutes a day to write, paint, spend time singing or learning a musical instrument.
What you do and how you do it is an act of creation and the more creative flare we can bring into our daily lives the more successful we can be in all aspects of our lives. The more creative we are the more successful we'll be.
There are two creative practices in my life that are non-negotiable, morning pages and regular exercise. Exercise (believe it or not) helps me cultivate creativity and has been invaluable to my process. Recently I had to take about 4 months off because of illness and starting my new business before I dropped out of cooperate america. Here are the 4 running lessons of creativity that I missed most during my time away from the discipline of running.
1) Running is when I come up with my best ideas:
The repetition, and doing what my body has been trained to do, over and over allows my brain to rest and ideas bubble up. I can’t count the number of times during a run I’ve come up with an idea for a blog post or a different way to do things in my business. At the end of the run I plug the idea into the notes section of my phone while I’m walking home during my cool down.
2) Countless lessons on consistency and discipline:
We know that we need consistency and discipline to become a stronger, faster runner. Ever notice how when you run there are days you might not want to get up and do it? You know you need to do it anyway, so you force yourself to do it even when it sucks while you’re doing it. But here's the magic you notice, even though it sucked, you still got to reap the benefit of your difficult run the whole rest of the day! You probably felt better, more clear headed, optimistic and fresh. That lesson directly applies to our creative life as well. If we aren’t consistent in our running we won’t get the benefits. Just like our creative life, if we consistently set aside 15-30 minutes daily to cultivate our creative pursuit it strengthens our creative life and helps the ideas flow. We need to regularly cultivate our creative lives and practices daily if we’re serious about them. Just like in running, some days we just won't feel like doing it, but those are the days we probably need it most and we have to do it anyway.
3) When my body is right my mind can be right.
If I feel lazy, weak, or sick it's really difficult for me to focus on anything but those feelings. If I feel strong in body it directly affects how I process information and I'm able to think problems through more easy, and can create links and associations where I hadn't seen them before. This does wonders for my creative endeavors
4) You get what you put in.
When I’m consistent in my practice I can comfortably run an 8:50-9:15 minute mile and those are numbers I feel proud of when I do. Since I’ve taken a break and started back up I’m hovering around a 10:00 minute mile and it’s killing me. I know that I can’t be upset about current results because I haven’t put in the work yet to be back at where I was. It’s going to take time and effort. I’ll get back to where I was with effort. It’s the same with creativity. I’m overwhelmed with blog post ideas right now and a fictional book I’ve been writing is humming along nicely because I’ve been putting in the work, and cultivating my creativity daily. Instead of watching TV or spending hours a week on facebook I invest that time in my book, blog posts and business. I'm getting the results I've worked for.
It doesn’t have to be running for you, it can be yoga (and is often that for me too), or cycling or paddling or whatever your body craves, but get moving to get your creativity flowing. I promise this will have big pay offs in the long run and probably on the long run too :)