I had a great chat with Dr Maria Angela Ferrario a few days ago (Marie is a researcher at Catalyst) – inspiring this blog. It was one of those chats where we went in and out of all kinds of areas, and with a 3-day-long 30th birthday celebration having happened between then and now, I’m struggling to recall exactly what I was thinking when I had the epiphanylike moment. I think it was to do with the effect that forcing (or attempting to force) creative (or innovative?) thinking can have on one’s well-being.
I just tried typing a few key words into various search engines and came up with a few interesting-looking papers. This one, published by NESTA, is particularly interesting and makes some good observations, although its main conclusion is certainly along the lines of needs more investigation.
The reason for my interest is a personal one. I’ve been feeling increasingly rundown in the last few weeks, and while it’s possible I have an underlying health problem (I’ll go to the doctor if it persists) I actually think it’s more likely that my energy has been sapped by a combination of constant creative thinking, and an unrelenting calendar of social events (oftentimes low on sleeping, high on consumption). Obviously I could try to minimise the social stuff, but I’m not sure that would help at all (as it would simply open up even more time to think about being innovative).
Most reflective methods suggest (variations on the theme of) figuring out what happened, deciding what went well, and what has not gone so well. Since Christmas, I’ve had some ideas that have really excited me. They’ve come ‘from nowhere’. I’ve innovated: created them. Of course in hindsight – reflecting on the epiphanies – this isn’t the case. I think all innovation comes in increments, even if those increments happening over time lead to an atomised radical innovative ‘black swan’ moment. The constancy of that incremental thinking is sapping, and seemingly unrelenting. So the thinking has gone well, the ideation, coming up with ideas. The effect on me has not been so good. So the conclusion: find a way of mitigating this. What that mitigation can be, I’m not sure yet, but I’ll think on it (which, ironically, might well contribute to the problem, in the short term anyway).
The talk with Marie.. well that has stimulated a whole new branch to my thinking around special topics, maybe that’ll contribute to my run-down feeling.. but… maybe it’ll result in a great outcome for special topics, which could lead onto a great summer project, an entirely new – and exciting – direction for my PhD. Who knows. But what I’m sure of is that I need to figure out a way of managing these thought processes so I can think sustainably. Hmmm……. ideas?