What can I do an hour a day that will make my life better in 30 days? originally appeared on Quora--the knowledge-sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Create something. Anything. Every day for 30 days. See what happens.
We are consuming so much content, so many posts, texts, commercials, marketing messages, so much music and TV that our brains get overwhelmed. Our consumption heavily outweighs our production. Let's foster creative productivity. We are creative beings. At least, we were until a teacher, or a parent, or a friend told us that our art is not good and that we should stick to math/science/whatever/keep our day job, which just isn't fair. Our creative side wants to be expressed.
Here are some ideas about what you can create every day for 30 days:
- A short story.
- A photo.
- A photo and a short story.
- A doodle.
- A haiku.
- A Quora answer.
- A blog post.
- A list of 10 ideas.
- A short and sweet letter or message to a friend.
- A random act of kindness.
- A free-writing piece.
- A gif of a cat in a funny costume.
These are just a few ideas. You can choose or come up with your own depending on your interests, talents, and curiosity.
HOW WILL THIS BENEFIT YOU?
- You will become more observant. This is Seth Godin's idea; he encourages people to embrace the practice of writing and publishing daily as a life-changing experience. When you're forced to create something every day, you will have to become more observant. You will have to look for problems, stories, nice pictures, conflicts, paradoxes, all the interesting things that make life, to have the material for your creations.
- You will become more mindful. This is a consequence of No. 1. When you become more observant, you will become more mindful. When you see the story or the idea, you will stop for a moment, thinking, "Hmmm, isn't this interesting? What can I create out of this? How will I share this with people? Why is this thing here?" You will start understanding yourself and others better.
- You will tap into your creative potential. At first, it will be easy. I bet you already have a few ideas ready to come to life. But when you deplete the first few, then things will get interesting. That's when your brain will start to sweat and push and struggle. And then, the magic will happen. Your mind will create something crazy, something that you couldn't possibly see before. And the next day, it will surprise you with something new. And so on. The important thing is not to give up when it gets tough. Creative muscles, just like any other muscles, require a regular workout. That's the way you will tap into your creativity.
- You will start building your body of work. Anyone can write one story or make one photo and post it. Anyone. However, the consistency is the trick. By forcing yourself to create 30 small projects, you will start building the body of your creative work. In Originals, Adam Grant concluded that the most unique people have an enormous body of work, tons and tons of ideas. It's not that they have brilliant ideas--they have a lot of ideas. Some are crappy. Some are decent. Some are awesome. Building a body of work will give you a base of ideas to choose from and build on.
- You will kill your perfectionism. Elizabeth Gilbert said that to live a creative life, we have to be forgiving. We don't have to be particularly brave, talented, weird, or anything else. But forgiving. Why? Because we will all end up creating a lot of shitty things. Ideas will look great in our minds, we will be psyched and passionate, but when we execute things will not look as we have imagined. In this phase, a lot of people will get disappointed and give up. But if you force yourself to create for an extended period of time, you will have to forgive yourself for not being Hemingway or Dali. You will have to kill the perfectionism. You will have to realize that your little creations won't save the world. But then you'll realize that it doesn't matter. You will embrace imperfections. You will feel better.
- You will build your creative confidence. By building your body of work, by understanding yourself and the world better, by surviving perfectionism and your shitty creations, you will start feeling more confident. The confidence is the product of experience. However, we often think that we have to be confident to start doing cool things. The opposite is true, and the confidence is built by doing cool things. Creative projects are one effective example.
- You will have fun. Holy crap, this is a big one. You will have fun! Creative processes, despite the resistance they invoke, bring playfulness and joy into our lives. A blank page is the field of infinite possibilities. Who knows what it can turn into? When you're creating, you are challenged, puzzled, present, and open for the new experience. How cool is that?
- You will become more interesting. Interested people are interesting people. Read ideas No. 1 and No. 2. A creative project or habit will make you more interested in life, nature, and other people. You will ask questions, you will look closely, you will listen carefully. You will have your body of work (No. 4) and be more confident (No. 6), all of which will make you interesting. And when you let yourself play and explore, you give other people permission to do the same. And people love that. Fellow creators support one another.
- You will be able to see the abundance. When you create something every day, after a while, you will realize a bit of truth: There is always more where that came from. In other words, your creativity cannot be depleted. It can be temporarily stifled or blocked but never lost. If you keep the creative practice, you'll notice that when you think you have exhausted all of your ideas, a new one will pop up all of a sudden. Just when you think you are done, a new insight will surprise you during the walk or in the shower. When I am writing 10 ideas, I typically get stuck after the sixth one. And then, magically, something cool startles me. (The 10th plan is usually the best.) Why is this important? When you see how abundant your creativity is, you will start noticing more abundance in life. You will find that you always have enough resources to tackle the situation at hand. You will see that when you do what you can, it's often sufficient to keep the ball rolling. You will find that there are enough success stories and opportunities for everyone. You will perceive life as magical and limitless.
- You will make the world a bit better. Liz Gilbert chimes in again, and she says: "If I am not actively creating something, I am probably actively destroying something--myself, a relationship, or my peace of mind." Hell, yes! I don't want to talk about numbing, obsessing, and destroying. I just want to say that when you are creating, you are bringing the best in yourself and encouraging others to do the same. And that ultimately makes the world a bit better, happier, and less lonely place.
I hope this answer will inspire you to create something today.