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Living, working creatively pays dividends

As I See It

Many of us tend to think that it`s only the artists, writers, designers or musicians in our midst who earn a living being creative. Actually, that`s a fallacy. Everybody can take advantage of opportunities to live and work creatively, and those who make such an effort are usually well rewarded.

Admittedly, most folks work at jobs that are pretty routine. Going from week to week, and paycheck to paycheck, is the norm. In fact, some believe, and correctly so, that suggesting new and better ways of doing things would pose a threat to higher-ups. Thus, we tend to stay on track and not veer too far off the beaten path. This is true in our personal lives, as well as in business.

I believe that feeling stuck in a rut is the main reason people dread Mondays. Why are weekends any different than workdays? Because we have more control of the weekends and plan for ourselves what we’re going to do and not do. Parents with dependent children have less discretion than us empty nesters, but, even so, they still have more options on Saturdays than on Tuesdays.

What does it take to be creative? Nothing more than looking at a situation objectively and analyzing it from a detached point of view. It requires a little energy, but frequently a better solution jumps out if we open our minds. Following are some questions that might spark the creative process.

What would happen if I didn`t do this task at all? Would Chicken Little`s prediction come true and the sky fall on us or would the omission largely go unnoticed? What value is generated from doing it? Oftentimes a particular way of doing something becomes a habit that then becomes the norm and, ultimately, the standard operating procedure and continues long after its usefulness has come and gone.

If it needs to be done, is there a faster, more economical way of getting the task done? Advances in technology, coupled with constantly falling prices, offer new and better ways of doing old jobs. However, many times better solutions go unnoticed as we trudge on doing things the way they’ve always been done because no one thinks of making a change.

From a personal standpoint, are the goals towards which I’m striving the goals I really want to achieve? This is a question that can literally change life directions in a flash. I think we often get so wrapped up in accomplishing what everyone thinks is important that we don`t really ask ourselves whether conventional goals fit us.

Am I in the right line of work? Is this company the right one for me? Could I do better somewhere else or should I start a business of my own?

What about relationships? Are my friends really friends or merely acquaintances? What about my marriage? My hobbies? The list goes on and on.

Notwithstanding the pressure to conform to the expectation of others, people have the ability to re-direct their lives in ways that are better suited to themselves. Having a vision for your life is the most powerful tool there is for making dreams come true. Visions can be subdivided into parts and strategies devised to move steadily toward the vision and, the first thing you know you’re living your dream.

Here`s a trick to living more creatively. Find your place of inspiration and regularly spend some time there. For me, it must be a quiet place out of the hustle and bustle of daily life. For others, it might be during the daily commute to work. For still others, rising early in the morning and spending some quiet time at home might do the trick. Everyone has to find their own place where they feel energized and inspired to challenge the way they’re living their lives.

So, what`s the payoff? I`ll likely get the same salary whether I make improvements at work or just keep on keepin’ on. Besides, even though my life`s in a rut, it`s pretty comfortable like it is. So why bother?

Why take the risk of being wrong by trying to make things better? The answer is all about you and how trying to make your world better changes your self-image. It`s the difference between living a mundane existence and striving for a life well lived.

Thought for the Moment – People create their own questions because they’re afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don`t sit looking at it – walk. – writer Ayn Rand (1905-1982)

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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