Rather than offering another "how to ______ in these tough times", (helpful as that might continue to be) how about some suggestions that are relevant for all times, for every day of our lives?
So, with your permission, these are my essential, optimistic ideas for staying creative, fresh, alive, vital, innovative and smart...today and always.
1. Change Your Diet/Health. Look at your own diet and physical health. A change for the healthy, be it vegetarian, organic, cutting the sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, processed foods might be key. When your body processes energy in a different way, you can think in a different way. Notice how sugar and caffeine, after many hours makes us jittery and rushed, then tired zombies? Well, for example, when you need a contemplative, relaxed mind, try yerba mate from an authentic Argentine gourd and bombilla.
Exercise any chance you get, because even a quick run can release endorphins that make you feel relaxed and productive. Yoga, t'ai chi ch'uan can help with stress and cultivate a more relaxed, quick mind, too. And when you feel healthier, you feel better about yourself which is an ideal state for work, no?
2. Zone Out, Regularly. (Um, maybe put a sign on your desk that explains this to co-workers, trust me) But yes, stare out the window, let your eyes go out of focus, relax your face and go blank. But playing a round of World of Warcraft is not the same thing. Or, if you don't have a window, just slump back in your chair and stare lazily at the ceiling, let your arms go limp. A great fresher upper. But seriously, if you don't have enough natural light, complain right now to the CEO. Tell her I sent you. The secret is this: change the focus of your eyes from that screen and relax the face and mind. The brain resets and new ideas are free to enter. Try eye yoga as well. Look it up. And again, even a slow walk around the block can reinvigorate, yes?
3. Relax, We'll All Be Dead Soon. How often do you contemplate the idea that before you know it, everyone you know will be dead (including you) and absolutely no one will remember your work? Actually, in most cases, no one will remember your work in a month. Suddenly, you can relax and stop worrying about all the little things that stress you and freeze your creative/strategic potential and before you know it, caving in and doing weak, middle-of-the-road work doesn't hurt so bad. Wait. Maybe not a good idea after all. But relax anyway, life is so short.
4. Spend Time With Different People. Work consumes our life so much and we tend to keep seeing the same coworkers and clients and vendors in an increasingly insular world, no matter how much you Digg, Tweet or FaceBook all day. So freshen up your head by hanging out, physically, with people NOT in our business, with people who listen to different music than you do, who speak a different language than you do, who dress differently or are into different hobbies than you, and soon you'll have new inspirations and insight on this crazy, beautiful world. Another way to do this is pick up a magazine or go to a web site you have zero interest in and read it all anyway--a guaranteed great waker-upper for the strategic mind and the oldest trick in the world for the after-dinner keynote speakers.
7. Practive Making Mistakes- On Pupose. Trying to be correct 100% of time can put our minds in an awful, tiny, stressed-out box. Look for ways to play and be wrong–on your own time, of course (unless your enlightened client buys into this, too). One of my favorite exercises is to make a list of the worst strategies and ideas possible for any project or client. It can be hilarious fun, free the mind and sometimes be a window to a new, wonderfully disruptive, effective idea. Or, as Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies proclaimed , "Honor thy error as a hidden intention", or “Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them.”
8. Because I Like The Number Eight. If you're that sort, you know that by now, this should really be Number Six. I know and I don't care. These could have numbered, 3, 55, 110, 3.5662, or named after animals, or not numbered at all–what difference does it make? So, break rules, do something inconsequential in an unorthodox way, like walk to your car backwards, eat with the hand you don't usually eat with, learn to sign your name mirror backwards, make as many faces in the mirror as you can as you learn to stretch your features and be truly, out-of-control silly. These all help and yes, I still like the number eight, but instead, I'm going to type the words "stapler lizards" instead. There, I just did.
213. Laugh, Smile, Breathe. Just because.
9.26. Before This Gets Totally Out Of Hand. Your skills of strategy, design, writing, coding, finance, business, persuasion, insight, speaking, selling are precious. YOU are precious. Take care of yourself. Be good to yourself. Risk, take chances, live life to the fullest you possibly can. Don't let the business, or office politics, or clients, or lack thereof, your job, or lack thereof, stop you from growing and blossoming as only you can.
If you liked this topic and have ideas of your own, share them here. Or let me know if you try any of these and how they work or don't for you.