Work Better: Foster your Curiosity

Two weeks into the year, and statistically speaking, you are probably a failure. Most people who make new year’s resolutions break then before their holiday decorations are down. Why is this?

Start with the moment you make your plan. You focus on what is wrong in your life. You don’t exercise. You are not good at keeping up with email. You are judgmental. Then, you come up with a solution to this problem. In the heady moments of December, hopped up on holiday candy & cosseted with your holiday social set, you pick something that will make you better. You make a pact with yourself that you will do X to fix Y. And, then the cold dawn of the new year arrives, you find the old you keep showing up.

Most people find extrinsic motivation much more powerful than intrinsic motivation. For example, you might not write a journal every day religious, but you will certainly send your daily update email to your boss if they ask you. In the case of your resolutions, you are setting yourself up for challenges by relying solely on intrinsic motivation and a lack of consequences.

Moreover, the premise of resolutions is problematic. You are not broken. Resolutions basically focus on making something negative better. Resolutions are basically a system set-up with a fixed mindset.

A growth mindset is the belief that you can grow new skills. Rather than thinking you can’t draw, you can say that you will need to grow new drawing skills to feel more competent. Developing a growth mindset can be challenging for people who have long held negative feelings. For example, you might have spent a lifetime being told that you aren’t athletic. It’s hard to gain the momentum to find the exercise that makes you feel good (and athletic).

Curiosity is one of the best ways to transforming yourself from a fixed mindset. There is no way to fail at curiosity, as long as you try. There is no rubric. There is no wrong. Your resolutions are an attempt to move you from one point to another in your actions. Fostering creativity is about going from one unspeaking place to another unknowable space. Said differently, creativity is a way to allow your mind to move past the simple accrued actions of a fixed mindset.

Fostering curiosity is a way to allow your mind to wander past long-held ideas towards new ones. Regarding work, diversity of ideas is an essential way to find better solutions to your challenges. So, how can you foster curiosity? Try this simple exercise today.

  1. Grab a white sheet of paper.
  2. Turn on a song with lyrics that you know well.
  3. Write out the words that you hear in the lyrics.
  4. Once the song is over, turn off the music. Set the timer for 30 minutes.
  5. Now, look at the words. Let your mind think about the words and ideas. Write out all the first set of questions that come up.
  6. Then, look at those questions. What other questions come to mind?
  7. Keep going on this iterative question exercise until the timer goes off. You might feel stalled in the middle of the exercise. It is important to keep going past that point.

Once the time is up, you may look up answers to your questions. You don’t need to however. Curiosity is about wanting to know answers, but it isn’t always about finding the answer. Sometimes just asking the question is enough to change the way you think about questioning.



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