Why my word of the year was creativity
5TH SEPTEMBER 2023
Creativity increases motivation, productivity and helps us grow and adapt. It’s brilliant for business as it opens our minds and feeds our souls. So read what happened when I made creativity my word of the year back in 2022…
Why I wanted a personal ‘word of the year’
Back in 2022, I wanted to be my most creative self — but I knew it wasn’t going to just happen, which is why I made ‘creativity’ my word of the year. For me, and I’m sure most people reading this, 2020 was about surviving. Then in 2021, I committed to prioritising myself in a way I’d never done before and I encouraged the Holly & Co community to do the same.
We learned about the importance of non-negotiables and created our very own versions for ourselves (intrigued? Read about effective time management strategies). But after nearly two years of living through unprecedented times, I knew that 2022 was the right time for me to really commit to taking this one step further and start actively living the life of my dreams. And for me, that meant embracing creativity.
Where does the ‘word of the year’ idea come from?
Did you know that at the end of each year, dictionary companies across the world look back and challenge themselves to find the word or expression that perfectly captures the mood of the 12 months before it? It’s a tradition started in Germany back in 1971. Interestingly, in 2021, the Oxford English Dictionary declared ‘vax’ to be their word of the year, and in an ‘unprecedented’ period like 2020, they said one word simply wasn’t enough, and so not one but 47 words were chosen to show how much the world had changed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, ‘lockdown’, ‘furlough’ and ‘support bubbles’ all made the list¹.
Why did I choose creativity as my word of the year?
The dictionary definition of the word ‘creativity’ is: the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness. You see, creativity is so much more than painting or drawing (although that absolutely still counts!).
What is creativity? Why do we need it?
Creativity is about…
- Taking risks and facing your fears
- Breaking everyday routines just to try doing something differently — after all, what’s the worst that can happen, or as Mo Gawdat says on his Conversations of Inspiration podcast episode, “What’s the best?”
- Applying imaginative ways of thinking to what you do or make
Humans need creativity. It’s so important to us. It can not only help us live longer, but also improve our quality of health and life too, with studies and research demonstrating that creating art decreases negative emotions, and reduces stress and anxiety. I’ve always been creative. It’s important to me. But how, with all these benefits, had it not been my sole guiding principle until then? Had I started to put business first? I decided to explore further…
Discover George Land’s Creativity Test: can creativity be taught?
Did you know we’re all born creative? In 1968, scientist George Land conducted a study that’s now known as the Creativity Test, which showed that creativity is actually unlearned as we get older. How does that work? Well, Land tested children from ages three to five, and used the same test he used to select scientists and innovative engineers for NASA.
- The creativity in five-year-olds was 98%
- When they reached 10-years-old it went down to 30%
- When they were tested at 15-years-old, it was 12%
- The same test was also given to 280,000 adults and the creativity score was around 2%
This horrified me. So I explored how we could get this innate creativity back and started adhering to the advice which I’ll share in a moment. If you find, like me, you struggle to find the time, try reading our ‘How to stay resourceful and creative under pressure’ article too).
Making creativity a priority made a difference in my life
Do you know what? I could genuinely tell the difference that making creativity a priority made to my life. It changed my approach to meetings, how I tackle challenges and it motivated me to achieve more. Even watching something like the film Air (all about the Nike founders’ story) or the Netflix documentary about Arnold Schwarzenegger — let alone visiting galleries, going to gigs or painting — have benefited my business and my life since then. And I’d love for creativity to help you too.
How to be more creative? Make creativity a habit
Try blocking out time in your diary for regular ‘creativity breaks’. I made a concerted effort to do this and I must say, it really helped. I tried thinking of these as being a very important meeting with someone incredibly important in my schedule because guess what? They were! The more creative I am, I know the more my business will benefit.
Keep learning in order to stay creative
When was the last time you tried something new that you weren’t already brilliant at? Letting go of perfectionism and choosing to commit to giving something a go ‘just because’ enables us to keep learning. It’s partly why I took up playing the piano. Taking up new hobbies will encourage you to push yourself and allow for unexpected ideas or feelings to come out (ok and a few odd notes too!).
Do creative activities
I committed to at least one creativity date a month where I’ll get out of my bubble and see something that blows my mind (you might have seen some of my art trips on my Instagram). There are hundreds of free exhibitions across the UK, not to mention a vibrant film industry, museums, music and more. There’s so much available to us that we could probably all utilise and I must admit, I didn’t make it out every single month but when I did, I really felt better in myself.
Go for a walk
Stanford researchers found that walking boosts creative inspiration. They examined the creativity levels of people while they walked versus while they sat and discovered that a person’s creative output increased by an average of 60% when walking, so surely it’s worth a try?²
Ask questions to stay creative
Have you ever found yourself in a ‘why?’ loop with a five-year-old? Well, it’s time to embrace your inner five-year-old and ask the question! When you see or learn something new don’t just take it at face value. Challenge yourself to discover more and question it. We have the whole world at our fingertips; that little phone we all use to scroll through cute animal pictures and hilarious memes can also help us discover new and exciting things that may just spark our next great idea.
Finally, how do you choose a word of the year?
At Holly & Co, we’re all about doing things differently and so, instead of just reflecting on what has been, I want to challenge you to ask yourself, “What do you want your year ahead to be about?” What will be your daily mantra that will bring colour to grey? To be your happiest and fullest self? To thrive? I truly believe that having a single word or phrase to use to anchor yourself can help reframe your whole mindset and unlock more creativity (and this doesn’t just need to start in January either — you can do it whenever you like).
And when it comes to creativity, whatever it means for you personally, I urge you to do what you can to fit more of it in. I hope it benefits you as much as it did me. For now, I am wishing you a magically imaginative year ahead — I hope all your dreams come true.
Word of the year: key takeaways…
Here are the three main points to remember.
1. Choosing a word of the year to help guide us can really bring results:
I’m sure I did more interesting things and became a better founder off the back of this.
2. Don't forget the many benefits that creativity brings:
By taking risks, breaking routine and thinking more imaginatively, we can open our minds, and change our outlooks and actions in a positive way.
3. Make time for creative pursuits:
From taking mini creativity breaks to staying curious or getting out more, making time for creative pursuits can really do us good. I wish you all the luck!
Images: Red blossom cranes notebook - by Esmie and customised by a friend, Handstamped and repurposed ‘create’ key - by Keytiques, 'Creativity' banner - by Darwin & Gray, 'Take a break to create' art — by Liz Harry Designs.