“ The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping old ones.” ~ John Maynard Keynes

Traditional degrees and titles will no longer cut it in getting you far in career. Getting the extra certificates under your belt to stand out or get you honed for that new venture won’t necessarily help either. But of course you know this already — or are realizing it. Things have changed. Good-bye to the old world and welcome to the new where Google no longer makes a college degree a criterion for hiring. And, where beyond the business world none of that prepares you for making any form of real-word impact either.

In the new era, innovation is going to be your best friend. That is, a capacity to apply logic, systems thinking, integral perspectives, intuition, and experiential learning in increasing increments of awareness and in increasing forms of intelligence to solve real-life problems and add real-world value for greater development, well-being, or whatever the heck is needed.

How do you boost that?! Here are 10 perhaps surprising yet simple ways.

  1. Make health a priority.

When you’re tired, overworked, undernourished and cranky, you just cannot be innovative. Get enough shut-eye sleep. Get out and exercise. When you exercise, you develop the thinking and memory part of the brain and decrease insulin resistance. Eat food that nourishes your body and brain and raises your spirits.

2. Take time for mindfulness

Schedule a time during the day to get away from it all and just be. Think, dream, don’t think, meditate, walk in nature, focus your mind on a thing, breathe. Here is the space where you allow for innovation.

3. Be with kids

Kids are natural innovators. Develop both your listening skills and capacity to see the world as limitless, curious and adventurous through their eyes. You will learn patience, too. Innovation requires slowing down and thinking things through. And you will learn that not everything’s an intellectual exercise. Innovation requires plenty of time to play, to try things with your hands, and discover.

4. Play chess

Play any game that enhances the logical side of the brain, strategic planning, system’s and long term thinking. Chess gets the neurons firing that help strategize, calculate and prepare for more than one possibility as you dance between offense and defense. The more you play, the quicker you become at recognizing all moving parts in greater expanse of time and space.

5. Change your routine

Daily and usual routines create predictable outcomes and auto pilot thinking. Change your routine. You become more aware and responsive to what is showing up and happening in the present when your brain becomes aware of stimuli in your environment.

6. Act on your intuition

You just know when something feels off or something feels right. Start to pay more attention to that form of sensory communication and intelligence by acting on it every single day. Each morning ask what you need to achieve or facilitate x, y or z and throughout the day tap into ‘discovering’ what that is.

7. Dream

Dream of really big things that you desire to experience, be and have. When you allow yourself to daydream on a grand scale, your brain starts ticking in that direction. You become open to the possibilities that you might have otherwise dismissed as impossible.

8. Connect with you

Let go of who you think you are. You will discover a whole new world when you go deeper. Wisdom, experience, knowing, desires, pain, dreams, beauty, love — they’re all within you waiting to be embraced. I have this quote pinned to my wall : “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power,” by Lao Tzu. It really isn’t so much developing new ideas that boosts your innovation. It’s knowing yourself and going beyond limiting thoughts.

9. Connect with your client

Connect to your client and their needs, or whoever you’re serving. What are they saying they need? On the left side of a sheet of paper, write those down. Draw a line down the middle. On the right side, write down what you, your business or organization currently offers. Match up your list to theirs. Any gaps in needs? Here’s where you’ll innovate to better connect and contextualize your niche, methods or offerings.

10. Me to we

When we see ourselves as connected to others and see that their problems are actually ours in an increasingly global world, our brains literally start to operate differently. We see more perspectives, other perspectives, our competitor’s, deeper ones of our own, and we grow in awareness of what steps and solutions may now be required of us. It’s the innovative that have real-world impact.

Originally published at medium.com