Einstein famously described insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Despite his time-tested insight, we are all guilty of committing insanity, especially when it comes to the creative process. Any creative professional knows that sparking creativity is not as easy as snapping your fingers and willing ideas to pour into your brain.
In fact, most creative initiatives are not the result of lightning-bolt moments, but rather, hard work, persistence, and the occasional hair-pulling. But getting over the notion of creativity as a fateful occurrence is only the first step, if you're serious about ideating new artwork, designs, or even technological solutions, you have to make a few lifestyle changes that introduce you to new perspectives and foster creative thoughts.
No two people's creative methodologies exactly mirror the other; the beauty of creative processes is that they are as individualistic as the ideas they spark. With that said, however, you'd be hard-pressed to meet an artist or design professional who has not reaped the creative benefits of traveling.
So if you're feeling stuck in a rut, perhaps these three benefits will encourage you to actually use your vacation days and get your creative groove back.
1. It takes you out of your comfort zone.
Humans are creatures of habit, but more often than not, breaking out of the cycle is the most beneficial thing you can do for yourself. If you spend each day of your life living like you're in the movie Groundhog's Day, you're denying yourself the possibility of new experiences, and, ultimately, new ideas.
Traveling literally takes you out of your element--you have no choice but to sleep in a new bed, get your morning coffee from a new shop, and interact with people whose lifestyles are wholly different from your own.
Research published by the American Psychological Association found that travel-induced creative bursts are not just placebo effects; rather, there is a psychological transformation that occurs when people live or spend a considerable time abroad. Additionally, a white paper distributed by the U.S. Travel Association relayed that travelers show a 25% increase in performance after spending time away.
2. It forces you to disconnect and, ultimately, reconnect.
When was the last time you had a brilliant idea after spending hours maneuvering back and forth between emails, budget trackers, and your Instagram feed? If you're like most of us, the answer is probably never.
It's hard to formulate a clear thought, when you're hyper-tuned in to several screens and social platforms at all times. But people have a hard time going off-grid when they're in their home environments. Traveling to new locales offers an excuse to turn your phone off. It's true that some people spend their time away constantly uploading stories to Snapchat, but this isn't doing your mental fatigue any favors.
Unplugging during travel can not only help you to feel less wired and anxious, but it can actually improve your sleep, concentration, and mental clarity.
3. It introduces you to new stories and experiences.
Thanks to the Internet, many of us feel like we have an understanding of the world. But it's one thing to look at pictures of a Souk in Marrakesh, and it's another thing to experience the voice, smells, temperatures, and textiles for yourself.
Creativity is largely affected by the brain's neural pathways, and when these pathways are introduced to new sensory experiences, new synapses are piqued, leading to actual change in the brain. In speaking to The Atlantic, Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, noted that spending time in foreign places actually increases cognitive flexibility and depth of thought.
Traveling emotionally, and neurologically, opens us up to new concepts and viewpoints. Creative entrepreneur Nova Lorraine experienced the creative benefit of traveling firsthand when she revisited her grandparent's farmland in Jamaica.
For over 10 years, Nova's creative platform, Raine Magazine, has helped creative entrepreneurs has helped creative entrepreneurs find resources and initiatives to push their work further. But returning to her family's homeland re-introduced the natural resources of the land and enabled Nova to conceptualize a new approach to design that fuses the island's luxurious sea-island cotton with elegant, lingerie-inspired resort wear.
This impending creative project will not only benefit women across the globe looking for uniquely designed, high quality apparel, but also enables Nova to bring jobs back to the island. Even with her family's connection, the idea never would have sparked had she not traveled back to Jamaica.
To be a strong creative leader, you have to find ways to nurture creativity in your life. Spending all of your time hunched over a laptop screen is not the answer, but getting out and experiencing the world could be the spark that ignites, or re-ignites your creative flame.