How to develop a creative mindset

Some people think in possibilities and see every problem as an exciting new opportunity to try something new. Others… not so much.

Many people want to be more creative, and almost as many have already given up. They wrongfully assume that being creative is just not for them.

While these people absolutely have what it takes to be creative, they do lack something essential. They lack a creative mindset.

The creative mindset

Coming up with original ideas is not a mysterious talent you simply have to be born with. It’s a skill anyone can develop. Being creative and becoming even more creative is linked to certain habits.

One of these habits is always looking past the first good idea. You shouldn’t give up too soon. Whatever your challenge is, you should always try to generate as many ideas as possible. For most people, this will initially feel unnatural. If you can spare 10 minutes a day, however, you can easily teach yourself to pursue quantity.

While going for quantity is a good start, there is another factor that decides whether you are creative or not: the creative mindset. Truly creative individuals always look for possibilities to try something new (or to do the same thing differently). And just like the habit of pursuing quantity, the creative mindset can be acquired.

How to train your creative eye

Seeing possibilities where others only see problems is a child-like trait many of us have lost while growing up. We’ve become more serious and ‘learned’ the hard way that some things can only be achieved in one way. We no longer have the time and the luxury of pondering on alternatives. Or so we think…

The secret to developing a new habit is repetition. You should consistently act in accordance to the habit you want to (re)develop. In this case: looking for alternatives. You want to look for new ways to do what you already did, and you want to be open to new things entirely.

Being all serious and grown up, this perspective might frighten you. New things are scary. But fear not; I’m not talking about big decisions like starting a new business, selling your house or moving to another country (although especially the last might be very useful indeed). I’m talking about tiny deviations from your daily routine. Here are some things you could try:

    • Take a (slightly) different route to work. Change one street. You will see new things and you might discover wonderful new opportunities. (Changing one street at a time, you can keep this up for a long, long time)
    • Grab a magazine you would normally never pick up and read an article.
    • Watch 10 minutes of a foreign TV show in a language you don’t speak.
    • Start a conversation with the person in front of you, when you’re waiting in line at the supermarket.
    • Prepare a dish you’ve never eaten in your life.
    • Enter a store you’ve never been to (forget about yet another clothing store, try out something new entirely! Perfect would be a store of which you wouldn’t know what to find there…)
    • Try a new thinking technique (like the Wise Proverb or the False Rule)

There even is a book with ways to do something different every day.

Commit to one single small deviation every day. It will seem insignificant, but over a longer period, you will start to see the results. You will rewire your brain. You will train yourself to look for other ways to do things. You’ll start thinking in possibilities instead of necessities.

If you break your daily routine with minuscule alterations, you will slowly but steadily become more open to alternatives. Create room for wonder. Free your mind.

Our daily experiments

At HatRabbits we regularly try out new things. Among our own daily experiments are:

    • Allowing workshop participants to decide for themselves IF and HOW MUCH they are willing to pay for a workshop (after they’ve attended it).
    • Trying out new productivity tools like Boomerang or Freedom.
    • Holding ‘walking meetings’.
    • Trying out a new thinking technique in the morning (for 5 or 10 minutes).
    • Scheduling an ‘experimentation-day’ once every 6 weeks (in which we can try out new techniques, build prototypes and invite people to test things out).
    • Working from a restaurant or co-working space once in a while (despite having an amazing office ourselves).

Looking for even more creative experience?

Then why not start a creative thinking club? If you can find some like-minded people, practising regularly with creative thinking techniques is a great way of improving your creativity.

If you’d like to read more about improving your creative thinking skills, please check out the following articles:





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Showing 4 comments
  • Gerard

    Hi guys! Some real good thoughs, once more, thanks! (certainly also for the Boomerang-tip!)

    • René de Ruijter

      Hi Gerard, I’m glad you appreciate it. Boomerang is a wonderful tool to improve productivity (and automate follow-up reminders). I highly recommend it.

  • Dilyana Simons

    Hi, René! I just wanted to say that I loved your post about stimulating and developing a creative mindset! Beautifully written and very inspiring.

    I use some of the techniques you discuss in my coaching sessions with managers and entrepreneurs. Keep up the good work, as always.

    Talk to you, guys, soon!

    • René de Ruijter

      Thank you so much Dilyana! I’m very glad to hear that 🙂

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