Every time you do something--anything--you're training your brain.
Every action you take, thought you think or experience you have contributes to building neural pathways in your brain. That's why, if we do something for long enough, it becomes a habit. This also means we have incredible power to train our brain to think differently.
For entrepreneurs and other businesspeople, thinking creatively is a requirement.
If you feel like you've been in a bit of a creativity rut or just want to switch things up a bit, try these four tactics to make yourself think differently.
1. Adopt a Beginner's Mindset
When we do something over and over again, we often start to fall into autopilot mode.
When we've been in one business for a long time, we might have a deep understanding of our industry but run the risk of getting stuck in patterns of thinking.
That's why you hear people say, "That's just the way we've always done it," when shooting down new ideas.
Avoid this by getting into the mindset of a total beginner solving the problems of your job for the first time. You might try asking someone totally unfamiliar with your line of work for their thoughts for inspiration.
2. Put Yourself in Others' Shoes
In a similar vein to the beginner's mind strategy is the tactic of putting yourself in others' shoes. Expand that idea beyond beginners and to people of all sorts of backgrounds in relation to the issue you're working on.
Designing a website? Think about what your customers might want. Put yourself in the shoes of a customer who isn't comfortable with computers. What might they need to successfully navigate your website?
Not only will this force you to think differently, but it will also make your products and solutions more user-friendly.
3. Come up With a New Idea Every Day
If you want to be able to think up new ideas whenever you need them, you can't just try to do it when you need them. You need to practice coming up with creative ideas every day.
Carry around a small notebook or just use your phone and jot down any ideas you come up with throughout the day. Don't go to bed at night without having at least one new idea in your notebook.
Don't worry if your thoughts aren't groundbreaking or fully baked. The goal is just to get used to coming up with original ideas. You'll get better over time, and when the time comes that you desperately need a creative solution to some problem, you'll get to put your training to use.
4. Do Something Completely New to You
Take opportunities to try new things and do so regularly. This will keep your brain sharp, and you'll get new perspectives to access when trying to solve the problems you typically encounter.
Some of the most creative people become that way because they have a background in several totally different areas, and they can combine ideas from those two realms to create something new.
You don't have to do anything too crazy. Just do something new regularly. Read a book on an unfamiliar topic, try a new food or learn a dance from another culture. The options are endless.
People often think creativity is a natural trait you're either born with or you just don't have. While some might be more naturally inclined to think outside the box, you can also train your brain to become better at creative thinking.
Try out these four tips and, in the spirit of creative thinking, come up with some strategies of your own.
Basically, anything that has you trying something new works. As it turns out, if you want to think differently, you just need to practice doing it.