I once dated a guy who got really upset because I was eating my dinner one night with my hands instead of the “proper” knife and fork. He was so embarrassed and his mind boggled, sighing: “Why can’t you just eat like a normal person, Stephanie? It’s so gross.”

Now, this man had never traveled outside of the United States, particularly to places where eating certain dishes with your hands IS what “normal” people do. Places where people would look at him and think he was a crazy person for using utensils.

So often we become completely entrenched in the perspectives (and guidelines to how things “should” be done) of our home country, our education, our corporate training, and our culture, that we often see the world through a single, tunnel-visioned lens. We get set in our ways of doing things, stay inside our perspective bubble, and approach the world with a singular, often limiting, viewpoint. We get stuck thinking our way is the “right” or “only” way.

While this can be detrimental to our growth as humans it’s also, in my opinion, the #1 killer of creating something new, innovative, or groundbreaking. We all know that feeling of being stuck in a rut, lacking a creative spark, or being completely plumb out of fresh ideas. It sucks big time. But guess what? When you stop for a moment to zoom out and take a cold hard look at yourself when you’re in these situations, I suspect you’ll find that your creative rut comes along because you haven’t mixed things up in a while. You’re in the same place, doing the same things, with the same people, and employing the same strategies and tactics – and you have been for a bit too long. The truth of the matter is that if you haven’t changed your pace or place for a hot minute, you’re robbing yourself of the inspirational sparks that come along with getting in touch with something completely different.

Our team at Wildernest is lucky enough to have the freedom to travel the world while we get shit done, and I attribute most of our most creative breakthroughs to our constantly shifting perspectives gained from immersion in other cultures. But you don’t have to hop on a plane to jumpstart your innovation. Here’s my top 5 tips for mixing it up right at home:

Talk to Strangers

This is something of a mantra for me, and as a super shy introvert, it’s something that does not come easy. But despite my discomfort with the practice, I still push myself to talk to strangers whenever and wherever possible because some of the best things in my life have happened because I dared to step out of my comfort zone. The most incredible side effect of talking to strangers comes from hearing others’ stories; by learning about their world and perspectives, you are instantly exposed to new ways of thinking. Even the seemingly most insignificant story or turn of phrase can set your creative wheels in motion (and you’ll likely gain so much more than just a creative boost in the process!).

Virtual Travel

This one is easy – and a whole hell of a lot cheaper than a plane ticket. Watch a movie or read a book about a different country or culture completely unknown to you. It could be fiction or nonfiction, documentary or drama, it doesn’t matter – as long as it’s an immersion into a world you’ve never been. Some of my most groundbreaking perspective shifts have occurred from my couch watching Netflix or under the covers cozied up with a novel.

Hang Out With a Kid

All those so-called “rules” we’ve learned as we age about how to approach life and work have resulted in the loss of our inner child. Remember her? She’s the one that could make a full orchestra out of pots and pans, or wear a ballgown and cowboy hat to school without question. That childlike wonder, exploration, and curiosity that used to come so naturally is something we need to recapture if we stand a chance at being innovative. The best way I’ve found to get it back? Hang out with a kid. You’ll laugh a ton and be constantly inspired by how they give zero f%!ks and just create with reckless abandon.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

I live by the rule: “Do something every day that scares you”. Greatness lies beyond the edge of your comfort zone, and by doing something that makes you slightly uncomfortable you’ll tap into the potential growth that is trapped inside by your fear. And trust me, that adrenaline rush you get from conquering a fear is the perfect environment for grand new ideas to grow.

Remember Opposite Day?

Every once in a while, I’ll challenge my habits and perspectives by doing exactly the opposite of what I’d normally do for an entire day. This can be as simple as ordering a different coffee from a different cafe, or as uncomfortable as writing with my opposite hand. I’ll wake up and go to bed at a different time, eat a meal that’s completely different from what I crave, drive a different route, say no when I want to say yes, call when I’d normally text, listen to a genre of music I normally wouldn’t, watch a movie that I’d never pick… AND EAT WITH MY HANDS. You get the idea. I don’t fully understand the psychology behind it, but I do know that after a day of challenging my habits, I feel refreshed and have a renewed creative juju.

So, in the words of the great Taylor Swift, tell us in the comments below what you do to “Shake it (aka the rut) Off”? Have you tried any of these tactics? How did it go? What do you do to get out of a creative rut and stretch your perspective? What do you struggle with the most in shaking things up?

author

stephanie goldfinger

CEO/ Creative Director

Bali, Indonesia / USA / Earth

Stephanie always knew in her gut that the traditional way of doing things didn’t vibe with her heart. She craved purpose, lived for creativity, desired freedom, and wanted to find something that spoke to her soul, not everyone else’s. She founded Wildernest to guide women through their journeys, empower them to have the courage to brave the wilderness of business ownership, and help them harness their power to create real change in their lives, the lives around them, and the world.

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