There’s something about being on the road that gets my creative juices flowing. Tom Petty said it best in Runnin’ Down a Dream when he sang, “I felt so good, like anything was possible.”
Maybe it’s the mystery of not knowing what’s around the next bend (despite the best efforts of my very insistent GPS to tell me otherwise); maybe it’s being disconnected from the constant barrage of office technology nibbling at my ears and my attention; or maybe it’s as simple as a change in scenery and the shake-up to my daily routine.
If you guessed that I am on the road, you guessed correctly. Right now, I am headed to the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City. From January 22 to 25 all the major players in winter outdoor gear will be there exhibiting their winter wares, making it the largest winter lifestyle and sports industry gathering in the world.
I’m stoked not only because Outdoor Retailer is a chance for me to reconnect with friends and colleagues, to make/maintain important professional and social connections, and to check out some trendy outdoor gear, but because time on the road never fails spark my curiosity and the creative fires within. (The marketer in me wishes I could bottle this feeling and produce it en masse—it would surely be a top seller.)
With hours to go before I reach the outskirts of Salt Lake City, I already feel as though something big is about to happen—or could happen—and I guess that’s really what creativity is all about: possibility. Comfortable in our daily routines and in familiar surroundings, we tend to become complacent, to accept that what is, “is.” We know the drill, and we get numb to what’s possible, settling instead for what’s probable and the status quo.
The sports world is replete with athletes whose stagnated careers benefited from a change of scenery—top performers who had become so numb to their surroundings that their productivity suffered. They needed something different—a new environment, new challenges, new relationships—to spark their creativity and competitiveness.
Why should our business and personal lives be any different?
Think about most days when you first go into work or then later when you get home after a long day’s labor. Where is your mind at?
If you’re like me, most mornings you’re probably thinking about your to-do list, what’s already on the calendar, and what might crop up during the course of business. Then, by day’s end, you’re contemplating the evening meal, spending time with loved ones, and/or curling up with a good book or spending a few hours in front of the flat screen before getting some shuteye so you can do it all over again the next day.
There’s nothing wrong with a predictable lifestyle . . . to a point. Routine has its merits. You know what to expect and there’s security in knowing, generally, how most days will work out. But routine can also be numbing. Routine, by definition, is dull, repetitive, and tedious—not likely to be the playground for new ideas and breakthrough “a-ha” moments.
That’s why most of us get a spark of energy when Friday evening rolls around. The weekend awaits, our Monday through Friday routines are broken (albeit for just two days), and we feel as though anything is possible.
The same goes for a road trip, especially one that’s got a bit of wiggle room built into the schedule, or that takes us to new places. Absent our daily routines, absent our regular surroundings, the mind is free to wander, ponder, and explore around that next bend, or over the horizon, or deep down inside.
I’ve written before that a life devoid of creativity is boring and dull and dissatisfying . . . and I truly believe that. Who wants to be that person? Who wants to live that life?
We all have the capacity to be creative. But like anything worth doing, you have to MAKE time to do it. Take a break from your routines. Allow yourself to be spontaneous. If a road trip’s not possible, just get out of the house or the office for a bit. Take a walk, a bike ride, or simply eat lunch at a different place today.
What do you do to get your creative juices flowing? How do you get the time and separation from everyday life and pressures necessary to let your mind wander where it might?
Share your ideas here.
In the meantime, here’s to hoping we all get some divine inspiration from the road. In the immortal words of Steppenwolf, “Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway. Looking for adventure in whatever comes our way . . .”