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Apr 25

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Oxford Life Coach: Better than OK

Our modern lives are busy and demanding. When we’re under pressure it’s tempting to take the path of least resistance and stay on safe and known territory.  This is comfortable and familiar, and – well – OK*.

There’s a problem though. It’s extraordinarily easy to plough the same furrow until we become stuck in a rut. And when we’re stuck in a rut we keep doing the same things. This is also OK, if we’re looking to achieve the same outcomes. However if we want to make changes, we need to haul ourselves out of that rut and strike out, off piste, cross country and into the blue yonder.

Exciting isn’t it?

One (relatively) painless and very interesting way of climbing out of that rut is to get creative. This might mean dusting off your old guitar which has been languishing in the spare room for five years, or writing that blog piece for the company website you’ve been meaning to do for ages. Collect some flowers from the garden for the dinner table or bake a cake (this one tends to provoke waves of support from whoever’s around at the time). Go dancing, build a model aeroplane, fix something around the house, or the office. Host a dinner party and make proper flashy canapés. Rearrange the living room, buy some desk accessories, build something. Knit. Make a mix tape.

There an immense amount of satisfaction to be gained from creating something new. And, if we pick an activity that is engaging (that is challenging enough to be interesting, but accessible enough for us to achieve) we enter a very resourceful mental state when we’re entirely focussed on whatever we’re doing. Being ‘in flow’ (the technical term for this) feels wonderful. Time passes quickly, we’re thoroughly engrossed, we don’t think about anything else, and people comment the big smile on your face.

And surprise, surprise, when we emerge from the haze of flow, we have an entirely new perspective on everything else, as we’ve magically scrambled out of the rut.

One way of easily getting creative is to do it with others. I recently attended a beautifully facilitated creative session with Art 2 Motivate. This involved (among other things) covering my hands in paint and splodging them around on a big piece of paper in the manner of a happy toddler. The event was a Paint Your Own workshop, where I  – and a couple of other happy splodgers – were encouraged to work through an idea, issue or challenge by painting.

I’m quite enthusiastic about painting (as long as it doesn’t involve litres of magnolia emulsion). However, I was curious to see how splodging around would help me work through a little mental knot I’d been trying to unravel. But it did the job.

I discovered the extent of my control freakiness was much wider than previous admitted (I did not like the exercise where we swapped paintings halfway through and someone else “improved” my lovely creation). I also discovered that far from creating a big, disorganised mess, going with the flow and approaching things without a clear idea of how it was going to turn out, can lead to a beautiful outcome.

So, I urge you to find some time in that busy diary to get creative, have fun, leap out of the rut, and do something which is entirely irrelevant. Or so it might appear.

The outcome may be unexpected, and it’ll be much better than OK.

Exploring my creative side.

*For the moment, let’s set aside the real risk of slipping into boredom, becoming inanimate, prematurely reaching for the pipe and slippers, and picking out your favourite shade of blue rinse.

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