Living a creative life is a goal for a lot of people. The idea of spending every day immersed in artistic pursuits exploring opportunities, even gaining a better understanding of what creativity means is exciting. Yet, this isn’t the current reality for most — life tends to get in the way.
The reality is a need to achieve a balance. You have your day job to pay the bills while you try to squeeze in your creative activities somewhere between your family life, chores, and getting a few hours’ sleep. The good news is you can tip the balance further in your creative favor. By finding a career including tasks and skills to bolster your artistic efforts, you’re leveraging a bit more of your day job in service of your creativity.
We’re going to look at a few key skills areas that can impact your creativity and how certain jobs can help you build and capitalize on them.
Creativity is not usually seen as a logical act; it’s often more associated with emotional or philosophical elements. Yet, there is undoubtedly a crossover. Effective creative thinking tends to involve utilizing the tools of logic — linguistics and math among them — to solve problems in novel ways. This means a career helping you to build your problem-solving toolkit can be beneficial to your creative activities.
Most jobs involve some form of problem-solving. However, those that make a difference are likely to feature it as a central part of day-to-day activities. Working in social care or community management is a good source of these skills. You will often be faced with a wide range of problems that won’t always have a clear or consistent solution and may be affected by personal issues or the specific challenges of the community. As such, these positions tend to require and develop problem-solving abilities — finding ways to use limited resources to make a positive impact.
It’s important to remember, though, that the employers hiring for these positions are generally looking for candidates who demonstrate high degrees of responsibility and community commitment. This means you need to tailor your resume to communicate the most relevant skills and experiences that reflect this. This doesn’t mean you need a history in the same field — alongside presenting your hard and soft skills, your transferable skills can show why you are a good fit for the role. However, you can’t just list skills. Provide context for how you have used them and what the results were. Provide recruiters with a mental picture of the approach you bring to your work.
Creativity and emotional intelligence (also known as emotional quotient or EQ) are sometimes considered to go hand-in-hand. This is not a direct correlation; just because someone exhibits empathy doesn’t mean they’re creative. However, developing a high degree of EQ can directly impact your creative skillset. It gives you insights into how to utilize your emotions to influence the direction of your work. It also gives you psychological tools to deal with failure and be proactive in navigating past it. As such, careers providing you with chances to develop your EQ can be beneficial.
You’ll generally find the jobs which build EQ are those that see you engaging closely with other people. Healthcare can be the most obvious here, as you’re interacting with people at the most emotional and often difficult times in their lives. Nursing, in particular, will see you guiding patients through emotionally charged circumstances but also having to manage your own thoughts and feelings at times of stress. Indeed, one of the scientifically proven ways to improve your creativity is through exposure to new experiences, and healthcare will expose you to varied challenges each day and the emotions that go along with them.
However, not everyone is well-suited or has options to find a career in healthcare. The good news is, careers in retail can be instrumental in helping you build your EQ. This is rooted in the level of empathy that is needed to understand, capitalize on, and effectively handle consumer behavior. Retail sees you interacting with people from all walks of life, each with their own needs. Particularly in 2021, retail customers are experiencing some significant psychological challenges, often featuring stress and anxiety caused by isolation. The more you utilize empathy to understand varied perspectives and respond to them accordingly, the more you bolster the emotional intelligence that can impact your creativity.
Adaptability and Agility
Creativity is not a static activity. Indeed, the tendency in our society toward narrow visions and against outside-of-the-box thinking is contributing to a growing creativity crisis. Thought that is stifled becomes stagnant and stale. Your best way to avoid this is to cultivate adaptability and agility. This helps you to recognize when the potential for problems threatening your ability to stay creative is approaching and adjust your actions so you can keep being creative.
So, are there jobs that are innately geared toward developing adaptability and agility? Being an entrepreneur is a prime example here. The life of a business owner is one of uncertainty — there are many unexpected challenges every day and no guarantees you’ll succeed. Agility is an essential skill to thrive as an entrepreneur, helping you to respond quickly and effectively to market changes and the shifts in your competition. Indeed, much of your business planning and growth process will be focused on how to design your company in a way that makes it more streamlined and better able to maneuver around obstacles. This constant need to be adaptable and agile can help you develop a mindset you can take with you into your creative endeavors.
Even if your central career is not entirely focused on artistic tasks, it can still be instrumental in improving your creativity. Take time to consider what elements are most important to your artistic needs, and seek out the jobs which allow you to build on them. Whether your skill requirements are practical or emotional, there are careers to support you on your creative path.
Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.