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A simple way to get unstuck

Posted in the following categories: Creativity, Problem Solving

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Onto the regularly scheduled programming…

My high school soccer coach had a saying that I love: If you’re not in possession, get in position. 

In other words, if you don’t have the ball, move to a different place on the field where you’ll be open to receive the ball.

The same principle applies to you.

Far too often, we sit in the same room, in the same position, facing the same computer, for hours at a time.

When we’re stuck physically, we often get stuck creatively.

Our beliefs, perspectives, and habits are tied to our environment. Change your environment, and it becomes easier to dislodge what’s no longer serving you. This is why many smokers find it easier to quit when they’re traveling. Their new environment doesn’t have the same smoking associations as their home.

If I’m in a creative rut, I move outside of the room where I normally write— which is associated with the same old thought patterns.

I bring my laptop with me to an entirely different room—with different decorations, different books on the shelves, different energy, different everything.

That minor shift in location brings a major shift in perspective. It forces a reset in my mind. It creates a blank space where I can project new ideas. Ideas that were obscured by the old setting begin to reveal themselves in the new.

Walking—without a podcast or a phone call to keep you company—also helps. Research shows that movement and cognition are activated in the same region of the brain and that walking improves creativity. In one study—cleverly titled “Give Your Ideas Some Legs”—Stanford researchers divided participants into two groups and gave them a divergent creativity test. One group sat for one hour before the test, and the other group walked. On average, walking boosted creativity scores by 60 percent.

So if you’re feeling stuck—if you’re finding it hard to solve a problem or get started on a daunting new project—physically move to a different place where you can get unstuck.

The results will surprise you.

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