Does Creativity Decline as You Age? (Hint: Not a Chance)
Lately, with all the extra time and space provided by social distancing, it’s a good thing if you’ve been ruminating over questions like:
- What’s my plan for the next couple decades?
- How do I feel more accomplished?
- What should I be doing first?
- How do I go about finding my purpose?
It means you’re curious about how to be fulfilled. Even if finding clarity on how to be fulfilled is confusing, one thing is for sure: Creativity can help you get there.
And by “there” I mean living your ideal retirement lifestyle, where you’re healthy, active, and engaged.
Really. Among the many reasons why you need creativity you will find longevity, a sense of purpose, better brain health, and less stress and anxiety.
It’s a Myth That Creativity Declines as You Age
Let’s quickly debunk one of the seven myths about aging: Aging makes you less adventurous and less creative.
Well, this can’t be further from the truth.
The reality is: You have total control over how adventurous and creative you can be, no matter what age you are.
How? Just as you can create new neural pathways for the rest of your life, you can build your creativity level at any stage in life. In other words, you can exercise, practice, and train your brain to be creative no matter your age.
Your creativity level is similar to your neuroplasticity, where you either use it or lose it. Put another way, use it a lot and you strengthen it.
So, why does the stereotype of “being less creative as you grow older” exist?
Culture Teaches Us to Be Non-Creative
In a big way, this myth about creativity declining as you age exists because our culture and society teach us to not be creative, in a very structured way.
George Land’s Creativity Test revealed shocking results.
After testing the creativity of 1,600 children at ages 3–5, then again at age 10, and a third (and final) time at age 15, Land found the percentage of people who scored at the “genius level” of creativity were:
- Amongst 5-year-olds: 98%
- Amongst 10-year-olds: 30%
- Amongst 15-year-olds: 12%
- Same test given to 280,000 adults: 2%
Wow. Basically, Land’s conclusion is that “Non-creative behavior is learned.” As in, structured institutions, like schools and large corporations, train us to be non-creative. Instead, they teach us to comply and fit nicely into a larger system.
While this is a sad realization as far as your creative expression goes, there is a flip side to it.
You Can Learn, Practice, and Unleash Creativity (at Any Age)
The good news is creative behavior can be taught and learned. In terms of creative output, there’s no age limit to the creative contributions that you release into the world.
Rather, it’s a matter of when you decide to start, peak, and contribute your creative ideas. And this, as you know, can be at virtually any age.
Of course, it goes without saying that most of your creative contributions are probably going to happen at the peak of your creative efforts and productivity level.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, though, this can be at any stage in life.
In fact, according to psychologist Dean Keith Simonton of UC Davis:
“Some late bloomers do not truly hit their stride until their 60s or 70s. They often drudged away in uninspiring jobs for decades before discovering their true passion.”
There Are Plenty of Inspiring Creative Late Bloomers to Look to
For inspiring examples, here are three older adults with impressive creative years under their belt:
Grandma Moses started painting in her late 70s after retiring from her farming duties. She became a folk art sensation and painted successfully for 20 years up until her passing at age 101.
George was famous for his extreme barefoot water skiing. He didn’t learn how to water ski until he was in his 40s and continued to be creative with the sport until age 92.
Even though Annie’s creative career stretches back to before she photographed John Lennon the day he was assassinated, she’s still practicing creativity today and currently teaches an online photography class at age 70.
And these are just a few amazing creative models to look to for inspiration.
Rest assured there are countless creative heroes and late bloomers who better the world (and themselves) in big ways. And they do this well into their golden years.
Time to Unleash Your Creativity
The moral here is creativity does not shrivel up as you age.
Whether the culprit is our education or corporate system, your natural-born creativity is most likely something you’ve suppressed for decades (which is way too long).
Here’s to setting free and strengthening your natural-born affinity toward creativity!
If you’re interested in rewiring your golden years, Cyn can help you find clarity on your ideal retirement lifestyle and see where your creativity can take you. Book a Free 1-On-1 Breakthrough Session with Cyn to see if you’re a good fit for joining her Rewire Your Retirement program.
How are you being creative these days? How do you feel when you’re being creative? Does creativity bring you fulfillment? What stereotypes have you had to fight to find your creative potential? Please share with our community!