I’m not a creative person…
Creativity doesn’t just mean producing art.
Some people like to work with their hands and create, but perhaps not design the thing in the first place. An interior designer and a decorator both have a creative skill, but one is more about having the imagination to generate the idea and the other is about having the skill to bring the idea into real life.
Creativity can also mean simply having the freedom to challenge ideas, or complete a task in the way that you think best. I found the lack of autonomy in some of my previous jobs to be stifling and even anxiety-inducing.
Feel your creativity flow
‘Flow’ can be a difficult feeling to explain, but you know it when it’s there. You’re less conscious of time and your surroundings, and all that exists in that period is the work you’re totally and utterly absorbed in. Some of us can only get into that working flow when we’re allowed to work creatively and have the freedom to express ourselves.
Others can get into that state by doing something a lot more logical and process driven, perhaps making calculations, writing code, or fixing something mechanical. There are plenty of people who are more methodical and logical in the way that they do things, happily leaving the creativity and ‘big ideas’ to others.
Try and think about times when you may have got into that almost meditation-like state. What kind of thing were you doing?
Move fast and break things
It isn’t a hard and fast rule, but start-ups and smaller companies tend to foster a more creative approach where people are encouraged to innovate. Employees are expected to work creatively, with ‘move fast and break things’ being a popular mantra in the tech start-up world.
Start-ups and smaller companies can find it challenging to keep hold of what made them so creative and unique as they grow larger though. More people and more moving parts start to make rules and process a necessity – it’s simply no longer viable for hundreds of people to all be doing things their own way.
Working in a large corporation means you’re less likely to be involved in the ‘big-picture’. You may have to do things in a certain way simply because that’s the process that the leadership team have agreed on.
Less creative environments
Certain industries are less creative by nature. Industries such as law, finance, or medicine are less likely to have as much room for creativity as others. These jobs are all demanding, mentally stimulating, and very well paid. However, they are also highly regulated and there are best practices that must be followed.
If you’re a creative person, jobs such as these could be demanding and challenging in all the wrong ways. In my consulting roles in the finance industry, the most creative it got was producing a PowerPoint presentation. Within company style guidelines and using pre-approved fonts and icons, of course.
Some industries and companies also struggle with a culture coming from the ‘old guard’ who have always done things a certain way and now expect everybody else to. If working with the freedom to innovate and express yourself is important, then try and get a good feel about a leadership team’s attitudes towards new ideas.
Business or pleasure?
Highly creative jobs come with challenges. Everyone has days when they feel grumpy, tired, or sad. Sometimes for no reason at all. These are the days when a blank page staring you in the face can be pretty intimidating. There are days when I can write for hours without a pause, whilst on others my ideas seem to run completely dry and even writing a short article is a battle.
In general, the pay is low and competition is fierce for creative jobs. Yes, there are people who make fantastic money from their craft. Check the average salary for an art graduate and a computer science graduate though.
Consider whether you want to turn your creative outlet into a job, or keep it reserved for your leisure time when you feel good and really want to do it. Perhaps you need just enough creativity to keep the job fresh. There’s a happy medium for everyone – try and make a decision about what balance would be right for you.
This is the final topic in a series of important questions to ask yourself if you still haven’t got a clue what you want to do for a living. Check out my article about how answering these questions will help. I’ve already talked about the importance of salary, teams, managers, commuting, progression routes, and work/life balance.