Running is hard every time — all the time. No matter what shape I’m in — fit, post-holiday pudge, or iron-man-ready — the first step on the treadmill or track always feels arduous. The steps that follow only slightly less so.

Creativity is hard. But the difference between creativity and running — at least for me — is that once I start practicing creativity, the easier it gets.

Here are four tell-tale signs I’m practicing enough creativity:

  • My curiosity increases — “expert mind” becomes more child-like and inquisitive.
  • What and why becomes more important than how and when.
  • My lizard brain — the resistance in the back of my head to new thoughts and ideas — quiets.
  • I make non linear connections (across disciplines and across interests).

And while creativity begets creativity, kick starting the creativity train can be tough.

When I’m stuck in a creative rut professionally, I do something creative in my personal life. I take a writing class. I go to a museum lecture. I take photos. I blog about something I love.

And once I start exercising my personal creative muscles, the new discoveries I make keep the creativity firing professionally.

It’s a helluva a lot easier than getting on a treadmill.