Taking Your Creativity on Vacation

Costa Michailidis -

The novel experiences you have on your next vacation can restore your creativity.

Sand Castle by Dallas Reedy

(Photo by Dallas Reedy)

Let's start with a list of things you might do to nurture your creativity on your next vacation:

  1. Build a sand castle with your kids (or without 'em).
  2. If you're more inclined to winter vacations, build a snow fort with your kids (...or without 'em).
  3. Bring your camera or smartphone and take candid photos. Try to capture things from a unique perspective. Bird's eye view, ant's eye view, somewhere no one usually stands. Be safe, please. Don't photograph oncoming traffic because it's pretty.
  4. Learn a new skill like making sushi, hoola skirt dancing, snow shoeing, or riding a camel.
  5. Go on an unguided walking tour. The goal is to just follow your curiosity. Again be safe. Avoid dark alleys.
  6. Write about a moment from each day on vacation, perhaps with an accompanying photo, and share it on social media (or keep it in a private journal). When you write your note, make extensive use of metaphor, poetic language, puns, and other creative uses of language.
  7. Make sure to have at least one day that is unplanned, or to be open to making sponateous decisions, and going on small adventures where you're forced to improvise. Remember to say Yes, and...!

The common ingredient in all of the above suggestions is novelty.

How Novel Experiences Fuel Creativity

Creativity can be defined in many ways. Or perhaps creative people define all things in many ways. That's the point being illustrated there even before I can complete my sentence...

Creativity is multiplicity.

Where non-creativity sees a thing, creativity sees many things.

Where non-creativity sees a problem, creativity sees many opportunities.

Where non-creativity sees a solution, creativity sees many possible outcomes.

Where non-creativity defines singularly, creativity redefines in many ways.

Where non-creativity chooses a path, creativity adapts and improvises.

Where non-creativity judges definitively, creativity smiles, laughs, and remains uncertain.

This aspect of creativity, this multiplicity, is only part of what's needed for innovation, and it's an important part. If we cannot see lots and lots of possibilities, we can never find the really good ones. We need to judge and think critically eventually, but when creativity is active, we would benefit from cutting it loose.

We have a few resources that cover this skill in more detail.

A full write up on how to come up with lots of ideas: First Rule of Creative Thinking

A 5-minute talk on the same topic: Costa Michailidis - DisruptHR Westchester

What does my vacation have to do with any of this?

Yes, right, vacations.

A vacation that is filled with unique experiences, places you've never been, things you've never done, people who you haven't yet interacted with, then all of those new experiences become fuel to your creativity; things to draw upon when unpacking a problem, generating ideas for solutions, crafting plans, and thinking on your feet.

The more challenging and unique a problem you face at work in or life, the more experience you're going to have to draw from to solve it.

Vacations are an incredible opportunity to stack your deck, to fill yourself with unique and wonderful experiences to fuel novelty in your thinking forever after.

Enjoy the summer, or whatever season it is where you are or wherever your adventures and vacations take you.