Have you ever found something so incredible… so amazing… so unbelievable that you had to ask: “why didn’t anyone think of that before?”
It’s the feeling that an idea is so useful, beautiful, or improved, you could have thought of it yourself. But you didn’t think of it. And I didn’t think of it either.
The reason you or I didn’t think of that incredible idea is because we didn’t think “outside the box”.
I’m sure you have heard the phrase before. You may have even tried doing it a few times; yet, despite your best efforts, you still didn’t think up that incredible idea (or maybe you did, once or twice). That’s because thinking inside of the box is easy to do, it comes naturally to everyone.
What does it takes to get motivated and think outside of the box? Well, we first have to know what “the box” really is.
What exactly is “the box”?
Despite popular belief, “the box” isn’t a bad thing. “The box” simply refers to rules, regulations, and expectancies. Every time you follow a set path, solve a problem for expected answers, or do something based on what you already know, you are living inside of “the box”.
Living and thinking inside of “the box” (or thinking about things that are already well-known), is safe because the results are already known. Thinking inside of “the box” is also extremely easy to do. If you have a question or a problem, you can look to your own past experiences to answer or solve it, or look online for other people’s experiences or solutions.
“The box” is, simply put, the known.
Why think outside of “the box”?
You can easily figure out why it pays to think inside of “the box”; to think with what you already know and what is safe. But it also is important to think outside of “the box”, where creativity really flourishes.
If everyone in the history of mankind thought inside of the box, you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to read this article, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to write it. If Plato, and Aristotle, and Franklin, and Einstein, and Disney, and the guy that makes bread at your local grocery store, and everyone in-between, only thought with what was already known, we would live in a very different world.
Cars? Never would have happened if someone hadn’t thought that horse-drawn carriages could have been useful with an engine. The internet? There would be no internet if a man hadn’t thought that sending electronic signals between machines could be something bigger.
Thinking outside of the box has been beneficial to the world that we live in, just as much as thinking inside of the box has. But creativity is so strong outside of the box, you may want to consider thinking outside from time to time - to solve a problem or come up with that next “Why didn’t someone think of that before?!” idea. Thinking inside of the box, however, is a lot easier to do than thinking outside of the box. It’s hard to find motivation to really think outside of the box and come up with interesting ideas… or is it?
How to get motivated to think outside the box.
You will come to find that thinking outside of the box can be as thinking inside of it, all it takes is a little technique. Here are a few easy ways you can motivate yourself to think outside of the box right now:
1. Just do it. The simplest, and one of the most effective, motivational techniques is jumping in. Instead of sitting around and wondering “how can I get motivated to think?” just do it. The best part of thinking outside of the box is that you don’t need to be thinking about anything specific, just think. Think about plants, think about cars, think about paper, think about the sky, think about the bottom of your shoes. Just do it.
2. Obsess over other’s achievements. Whenever I need motivation, I try to look at what other people have achieved. By looking at what others have achieved - that you haven’t - you will feel a sudden urge to think harder and obtain what they have. Someone has more money than you, someone else thought up a popular idea, and someone else has already beat you to the punch line. Don’t get mad at these facts, let it fuel you, let it motivate you.
3. Don’t be afraid to be silly. If you really want to think outside of the box, you will have to get a little silly. Not only will being silly help you come up with unique ideas, it will also loosen your thoughts up and allow you to get even more motivated to think. Don’t think of a business card as just a business card, think of it as a one way telephone conversation recorded on paper. Don’t just think of a car as a car, think of it as an airplane that just never takes off. Get as absurd as you want.
4. Take a nap. If you are not physically motivated to burn energy, you won’t be mentally motivated to think outside the box. So take a break from whatever it is you are doing, lay down in a quiet place, and close your eyes. When you wake up, get cracking on thinking outside of the box. You will feel a lot better physically, and as a result you will think a lot better too.
5. Make your own motivation (with a little help from a friend). If it comes down to you giving up searching for motivation to think outside of the box, just ask a friend to help. Not only can they actually help you think up ideas, their process might empower you to think harder. Trust me on this one.