ever imagined if?

Ever imagined how your life would be if…?


“Have you ever imagined…?” The first step to any change, new thing, possibility or chance starts in our minds, in our imagination. Do you think that’s true? “But what if…?”

I’ve written before about the importance I think imagination has, but let’s touch on that one more time. Why? Because it is really the tool I use the most in my life. 

Welcome to your creative life

Humans are creative creatures. We look for solutions to problems using creativity and imagination, helped by previous experience and common sense, as well as shared knowledge. There’s always someone who says “well, I’m not creative”. Well, probably you actually are, just in an area of your life you don’t think of as a creative field. We don’t need to know how to draw to be creative, nor be makers or designers. We are creative every time we try to find a new way to get or achieve something (be it a “thing”, a goal…). When we’ve tried the easy and proved paths and we keep looking for another one, we are being creative. Be it by trying to make a dish out of the leftovers, stretching our money this month or creating a loving space at home by rearranging our furniture.

But imagination does so much more for us

How do you discover your dreams? How do you know if you want to spend more time with a person? How do you know if you can be happy in your workplace? How do you know where to travel? 

You imagine it. And learn what you like, what you want and what you don’t by going over it in your mind. We imagine the future and we imagine alternative presents. It’s the fastest way to build an opinion on something and decide if that pursuit deserves our time and energy. It may not always be accurate to reality, as many thoughts, mindsets and fear can interfere in our perspective, but it’s our least-invested way of learning and trying things. It’s the first step for change. And let’s not fool ourselves, life is ever-changing even when we try not to think about it. 

If you love it, you’ll hold it softly 

I’m starting to believe that if imagination is not valued as it should it’s because it can confuse us more than terms like “creativity” and “innovation”.  We can’t pin it down and identify it as easily, we can’t list it in our resumé, there is no tangible proof of it. But it is certainly a transferable skill.

Still, because imagination can easily take us to wishful-thinking and irrational possibilities, there’s an aspect of it that gives it a bad reputation. We are here to solve problems, not to create new ones. This, though, should not get in the way of starting that fire.

Imagination is the first step

As a designer, there’s nothing I use as much as my imagination.

Whenever I have to create something, a graphic image, for example, I first imagine how I would like it to look. What do I wanna say and how? Then I may get help from mood boards and inspiration images as well as references for similar things. After that, when actually designing (creating a layout, choosing the font, the composition, the colours and photos) I don’t go on just moving everything all the time and adding and taking it out… I firstly do it mentally, imagining how I could change or move that to better capture the image in my head, the desired final result.

In life, we may do similarly. We can imagine how we would like it to look, to feel like. Then, we think about what we’d need to change and how that would work out. We imagine the possibilities and do some internal tests to see if it’s worth the investment of our energy and if we could get those desired results.

The thing about imagination is that it is a door to a world of possibilities but not certainties. It’s a tool for exploration.

And we are all explorers. But only once we take that first step.

WARNING: Action is still required.



Imagination, the forgotten tool for creativity


I can’t stop hearing and reading about creativity: the creative entrepreneur, the creative business, how to be more creative, businesses nowadays need more creative people, etc. But I don’t hear that often about imagination and imaginative people. Why? What’s the difference? Why is not such a marketable concept as creativity? Is there really a boom in creativity? Why is that term so important nowadays?

Well, while imagination is not a very common word being used in business, words like “innovation” are the new fancy thing. Holding hands with innovation comes creativity, an admired skill as well. Every single business is looking for creative employees and every person is looking for ways to get a creative life.

But nobody says much about imagination. Although, it is a basic tool for creativity and innovation. Without imagination, you could not picture how something could work, or go wrong, what would be a new perspective or come up with a number of solutions. Then why isn’t it a skill we want to pursue?

In creativesomething.net we find this definition about the difference between those two terms:

“The biggest difference between creativity and imagination is that imaginations is thinking of something that is not present, while creativity is doing something meaningful with your imaginations.”

I like it. It says it clearly. Still, we can add some specifications:
Sir Robinson says that creativity is a very practical process while imagination allows us to think of things that aren’t real or around us at any given time.

So, how could we create something new? Nothing can’t be real without getting first into our minds through the imaginative process. Only using it first it is possible to be really creative. So, why aren’t there more articles about “ 5 ways to boost your imagination” or “The only thing you need to know about being imaginative and find success” etc?
My guess? It may be because to have an imaginative mind comes with some negative thoughts. Imagination sounds childish, like something you say about a child who is too often with his head on the clouds.

And we don’t want to be seen as daydreamers.

We think that imaginative people are like the guy on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. However, I would encourage everybody to embrace that skill. Because, how are you supposed to create something really new, be really creative if not playing it in your mind first?
This makes me think about the Endless Story, the book. It was fascinating to read, finding ideas so different and “creative” for a fantasy book. Well, it is supposed to be like that on fiction, right?

Why then most books or movies picture so many similar things?
My guess again?

I think we play too small.

We are afraid of playing big and we are afraid to put big crazy ideas into the world. Because they are difficult to accept for everybody at first. But if we try, and if we do, they can become really big things (or that worthy innovation). So why not try?
There is no doubt that creatives do use that skill, but why is that we don’t talk about it? Even in self-help or sports training, remember you reading the word “visualise”? I think that gets pretty close to “imagine”. And that’s powerful. Really powerful.

To conclude this post I’d like to introduce a couple more of definitions:
– Creativity is defined by psychological scientists as the generation of ideas or products that are both original and valuable. Creativity relies on imagination, the conscious representations of what is not immediately present to the senses.(Source)
Creativity is domesticated imagination. While this second is wild and mostly about impossible happenings, creativity is original and possible. (Source)

And my last question: Then, is creative thinking a way of using imagination? or is it the trigger for the creative process?

Further reading:  – The differences between imagination, creativity, and innovation