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While people have different opinions on the work-from-home setup, I can identify one common insight among my workmates and peers: not having to travel in horrendous traffic is a major win. Take it from someone who lives (and works) for efficiency but spends roughly 3 hours in transit every day. When we were told to start working from home, my heart leaped at the thought of three extra hours of sleep. Well, at least, that’s what I thought.

At the beginning of this quarantine, the time I saved from not having to travel were spent mindlessly and endlessly scrolling through the social media feed, binge-watching Korean dramas, or even working extra sprints just to try and get it all over with. Overtime, I felt like something was missing from this daily grind. I was constantly on edge. Perhaps, it was triggered by the rising surge of home-cooks and entrepreneurs popping up in my Instagram feed. Or, perhaps it was my extra- curricular-frenzied high school and college self who was itching to make a comeback. Either way, I knew I needed to do something to escape the looming anxiety.

Cue hobbies – returning to childhood pastimes, picking up an interest that had been shelved for many years, or getting into something totally new.

In my case, it was an amalgamation of all these things.

I decided to come home to my first love — music — upgrading my mid-work-shift solo concerts to music production experiments… however far a guitar, a MIDI keyboard and free GarageBand plugins could take me. I fueled my interest in culture to relearning Mandarin and launching an Asian appreciation podcast with a friend.

I also got back to letting my thoughts flow freely by writing journal entries, poetry, or even think-pieces like this (in different languages, if I may add for extra creativity points). It was these outlets that brought back color to my days and allowed me to reframe my mindset towards life and my career.

Creative juices – a metaphor for the creative process that occurs in our minds when we are problem solving or generating new ideas – is about finding your own unique blend of creativity to solve life’s problems and create something new. And here are three key highlights on how my creative juices allowed me to focus on my growth, and to be at peace with thoughts that used to muddle me on the daily.

1. The first step may be the hardest, but once you get it done, you’ll find that it is the biggest motivation to keep you going.

The chronic overthinker that I am wants every aspect of everything I do to be perfect. At least in my standards. So, when I jumped on that random Zoom catch-up call, I didn’t expect that to end up as our podcast’s pilot episode. My friend and I knew it was far from flawless, but publishing it only meant we had to keep improving and churning out more episodes to document our progress.

Since then, this became my mindset for everything. There are instances at work wherein I am not entirely sure how to approach a task. Instead of spending days mulling over how to go about it, I realized that taking a first stab ends up being the most productive way out. And at the end of the day, that attempt ends up becoming a baseline to further ideate and improve upon. Then slowly, I started to get rid of that fear of rough drafts. I mean… we can still catch some diamonds there, right?

Taking a first stab ends up being the most productive way out. And that attempt ends up becoming a baseline to further ideate and improve upon.

2. Wins are never too small.

Being a beginner can sometimes be frustrating because it may take time to get to something worthy of being proud of. In a world that glorifies results and outputs, we must realize that what matters more is the journey itself. A creative process would be incomplete without everyday discoveries, which I believe help me level up my competency, speed, and artistic quality.

When I treated my time-blocks for music as if they were sessions for experiments, I had a constant reminder that this was exploratory and, well, ultimately for myself. It was all right even if the finding I arrived at was a mere keyboard shortcut or a groovy topline.

A creative process would be incomplete without everyday discoveries.

Surprisingly, this also allowed me to reframe my view towards productivity at work. Changing my mindset about what productivity means helped me stop wanting to push myself too hard or going over my limits. And I no longer felt guilty over tasks that I was too tired to take on in that day. Afterall, I recognize that everything I do and every decision I make deserves me at my best headspace.

3. Creative outlets can help us know and understand ourselves better.

Creativity is a powerful force. Whether you’re feeling creatively drained or just need a creative boost, having outlets to engage in creative pursuits is immensely helpful. And studies show that when we’re engaged in creative activities, we release endorphins which reduce stress levels and even boost our immune systems. Not only that, but creative expression can make a difference in all aspects of our lives.

My favorite thing about unlocking creativity is the fact that I get to explore and even enrich myself. By dabbling into my interests, I enter a different world and notice what I’m like as a musician, as a public speaker, as a writer, and just a human being.

I begin to understand my work ethic even more, because to me, creativity is also a mindfulness exercise. When I evaluate my output and how it came to be, I look at things holistically and pinpoint why this is a work I call my own because my outlets are avenues for self- expression.

I quit the hours of wallowing in sorrow because it seemed I could not stick to just one path that I could be defined by, for the rest of my life. And I relished in how multi-faceted I am — which, to me, is probably the best thing about all of us that we should never fail to celebrate. 

About the Author

Picture of Mika Go Tiong

Mika Go Tiong

Mika Go Tiong is a Chinese-Filipino based in the Philippines, on a mission to write her own history, one adventure at a time. As a self-proclaimed multi-potentialite, Mika's brain mainly runs on flowcharts, musical notes, prose and poetry — constantly code-switching among four different languages. By day, she is an HR Operations Analyst at JP Morgan Chase & Co., driving process excellence initiatives to streamline employee experience. On the off-hours, she promotes her personal advocacies of youth empowerment with the Filipino-Chinese Catholic Youth, and Asian culture appreciation through her podcast, The Weekly Stan Up. Mika’s favorite outlet is whatever allows her to transform her thoughts into meaningful stories — be it via curated Spotify playlists, writing and music experiments, or even just her trusty journal home to endless possibilities. Mika aims to transform her creative energy and love for learning to become a bonafide multi-hyphenate, as she takes on her life’s narrative with no intentions of putting down her pen just yet.

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