Being more confident and comfortable with yourself will have a real impact on everything from your decision-making to your self-esteem. How often have you felt stuck and completely unsure of how you really feel about something? This ambiguity signals being out of touch with your intuition and your instincts. Connecting with that impulse can serve as a guiding light in times of uncertainty and allow you the freedom to get out of your comfort zone. And when you trust yourself, it’s often easier to evaluate who else you can trust. This inner strength can ripple out across your creativity, productivity, and all your interpersonal relations.
Listen to ‘that voice’ more often
Your relationship to your intuition is directly linked to your self-esteem and self-knowledge. Building a healthy self-regard all starts with respecting your limits. As Morra Aarons-Mele, an internet marketer and the author of Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home) says, “It’s not your job to be the sparkliest, most interesting person in the room.” She herself sets clear boundaries when it comes to demanding occasions like conferences, limiting her social interactions and mapping out a routine that is comfortable and challenging in equal measure. Compassion is key. Be kind to yourself but know where to push. For Aarons-Mele, that means going to a group lunch (even if she’s dreading it) but keeping her nights free to recharge.
Duncan Wardle knows a thing or two about playfulness, having spent 25 years at Disney. His time there included leading the innovation and creativity teams, and fostering the best environment for visionary teams to flourish. His experience taught him the value of allowing access to the subconscious, relaxed brain that gives rise to our best ideas. His best advice? “Be playful when you are looking for that big idea. For many of us, our best ideas come to us when we’re in the shower, when we’re jogging, when we’re on the train—in other words, when we’re anywhere but at work.” Pressure and stress are stifling to our imagination, and stepping away from the structures of the everyday will let you connect the dots and channel your creativity.
Learn how to tell the time
We all intuitively know when we are most productive, often defining ourselves as early birds or night owls. But going deeper than that to figure out your specific cycles and rhythms can do wonders for your idea flow and creativity.
“I define time management as managing your energy and brain power for peak performance in everything you do,” explains Julie Morgenstern, productivity expert and New York Times best-selling author. “The best time managers are super tuned into their energy cycles: how long they can concentrate before they glaze over, what times of day they’re best at certain tasks, that sort of thing.” If you tap into your own cycles and can see when you produce your best and brightest work, you’ll be more likely to replicate that flow.
Weigh your words and actions
Today, Nicole Katz runs Paper Chase Press, a family business that has been a stalwart presence in the Los Angeles creative scene since the 1970s. But continuing the tradition wasn’t something she took seriously as a life path in her younger years. “It’s funny, because if you’d asked me back then, if I wanted to one day run the business, I would have said a resounding no,” says Katz. “I was being rebellious, but then I always ended up doing things that kind of orbited around the print world. My actions spoke a lot louder than my words.”
Taking stock of your patterns can show you where your subconscious is pulling you. Often we will realize this only when looking back at the decisions we’ve made, but once you recognize the overarching values that shape your actions, you can have a more clear-headed grasp on where your instincts lie.
Jay Acunzo, author of the book Break the Wheel: Question Best Practices, Trust Your Intuition, Do Your Best Work, believes intuition works as an “inherent tool to be proactive about our abilities,” available to us all if we make the switch to “investigator” mode and look inward. He says, “We can master that ability too, if only we’d make one switch in the way we make decisions at work: We need to stop obsessing over everyone else’s right answers for us and start asking ourselves better questions.”
Honing intuition benefits us with a clarity of thought and conviction rooted in a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.