How to Use Your Creativity to Make Good Choices

“Take only your imagination seriously.” — Thomas Berger


We have a choice. A or B. Temptations slither in and suggest Reason go eat an apple. We make our choice with the serpent’s help. Later, we discover another choice would’ve made life easier.

Here’s a creative method that will help Reason fight temptations and lead you to a good choice.

Imagine accurate experiences of each choice.


Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at
Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at

Our imaginations tempt us to make bad choices. We imagine how good we’d look in the red Camaro, and we buy the smokin’ hot car. Then reality bites when those age fifty-plus legs have to lift our time-grown bodies from ground zero every time we exit the car. Talk about hot. Sweaty hot.

Since misdirected imaginations get us into trouble, let’s use our creativity to cultivate truth-telling imaginations.

When you make a choice, make a mental movie of the experience living with choice A. Do the same for choice B. Choose the best experience.

Example: A realtor took John and I to view river properties. We hoped to purchase one to entertain our family and visitors.

The lots surpassed our dreams. The realtor said the owner was prepared to take lower offers.

River PropertyThen temptation tickled our greed. We could buy three adjacent lots, A, B, and C, with riverfront of 600 feet total for a reasonable chunk more than the price for F, a deeper lot with 175 feet of riverfront. How could anyone pass up such a deal?

While John talked to the realtor, I walked the properties. I imagined the experience of our guests on A, B, and C lots combined.

Lunching near the river, we’d sit in the hot sun, unless we bought a shelter. We’d view a house on the other side of the river. We’d listen to occasional passing cars from the nearby road. To free shade trees, we’d bush-hog wild growth. Sweat almost trickled down my face. Our young grandsons would climb the trunks of the two trees that leaned over and shaded the river. One would fall in. My heart stopped.

Then I imagined our experience on lot F.

Boys' Fort?
Boys’ Fort?

My three young grandsons would pretend the space in the copse of ten large shade trees was a fort. My granddaughter would nap beneath another tree. We’d eat in the shade, listening to water gurgle over rapids, and view lush trees across the river. We’d pitch tents near trees farther back and hear occasional cars high up the slope. The boys would drag sticks through the small creek. I almost smelled hamburger and hotdogs grilling over the existing fire pit.

Lot F filled the dream. We didn’t need to get greedy for more land.

Take your best imagined experience seriously. 

Image courtesy of marin at
Image courtesy of marin at

Once we’ve pictured the best experience and made a choice, we must avoid discounting it.

Stop thinking you can change yourself or things to improve poor options.

Example. During a family vacation in Brazil at age thirteen, I tried on gorgeous loafers. The too-small shoes were the only pair. I imagined limping with painful blisters. But I convinced myself that with hose on I could bear the tightness at school. Others would admire my shoes.

I wore them once.


MP900314284Re-imagine the experience when the situation is different.

Example. At our last house, we chose to allow two water snakes to live in our pond. Then one made the mistake of chomping down on a goldfish while I snipped cattails nearby with pruning clippers. Snip. No more snake.

Then today at our new house, the mowers asked if I wanted them to kill a black snake. I pictured the field mice near our house. I imagined the snake as the most natural mousetrap. I saved his life.

A good choice for one circumstance may be poor for another.

What experiences have you imagined in making the best choice?

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A Great Way to Cultivate Creativity in Your Young Children

We want our children to grow up with healthy creative abilities. My guest today, Jill Bennett, shares an innovative solution for developing young children’s creative skills to meet their and societies’ future challenges.

Cultivating Creativity:

Engineering Encourages Children to Think Creatively and Take Risks 

Creativity is a step beyond imagination because it requires that you actually do something rather than lie around thinking about it.  It’s a very practical process of trying to make something original.

-Sir Ken Robinson

3280_kids with robotI have seen four-year-old children design rollercoasters as they discover principles of acceleration.  I have watched five-year-old children test various weights in the basket of a model hot air balloon as they explore buoyancy.  I know eight-year-old students who design, build, and program robots to free a simulated trapped dolphin from dangerous ocean conditions.  And there are nine-year-olds out there creating video games.  From scratch.

These children are solving problems in original ways. They see a challenge, develop ideas to solve the problem, and then they act.  Dori Roberts, founder and CEO of Virginia-based franchise Engineering for Kids, knows a great deal about designing an original idea.

Seeing a Challenge

Dori began her professional career as a high school technology and engineering teacher.  During those years, she helped her students consider innovative ways to solve engineering-related challenges.  She watched her students take risks. She began an engineering club at her school and traveled throughout the region, state, and nation with them.  Her son, who was six at the time, became very interested in the older students’ projects.  Upon searching for an after-school, engineering-related class for him, she realized there was nothing available for his age group.

Solving the Problem

EFK LogoMany parents would have thrown their arms up in frustration and would have begrudgingly registered their child for an alternate after-school activity.  Dori, however, recognized a need in the community and acted.  She began offering after-school classes at her son’s school, followed by summer camps at the local community center.  It did not take long for these classes to fill.  Word spread that the kids loved designing their own rockets, bridges, flashlights, and more.  The idea was a success.  Such a success, in fact, that she drafted a business plan, opened the Engineering for Kids Learning Center in Stafford, Virginia, and made it her full-time job.

Acting and Creating a Vision

I joined the Engineering for Kids team about two years ago and have been overseeing the development of curriculum and programs.   The team continues to grow, as does the business.  Engineering for Kids became a franchise just over a year ago and we now have 25 locations, two of which are international.  Our goal is to have 60 franchises by the end of 2013.  Our vision is to “inspire the next generation of engineers.”

Noting Reasons for Success

So many factors have contributed to the success of Engineering for Kids.  On any given day, it is tough to scan through newspaper headlines without seeing topics such as science education, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), or the need for qualified engineers.  Parents are always looking for educational opportunities for their children, and it’s a huge bonus when their kids are excited to sign up for an educational activity outside of school hours.  These students are being challenged during these engineering classes without even knowing it!  In addition, Engineering for Kids is growing because we have a host of franchisees that have been willing to take a risk.

3278_happy girlsDuring any given lesson, we ask our students to use their creativity to solve challenges and take risks.  It is very possible that students will develop completely different solutions to the same challenge.  And that is okay.  In fact, we encourage it.  We recognize that creativity requires taking a risk by putting yourself and your ideas out there.  It takes guts to present an original idea to your peers.

Not all of our students will become engineers.  We realize that.  However, the lil’ mechanical engineer I mentioned earlier is already learning what it means to consider challenging concepts like designing a rollercoaster, think creatively to solve problems, and take risks in designing solutions.  We are confident that exposing kids to engineering will give them a strong foundation in thinking creatively and taking risks.  And maybe, just maybe, one of our students will design the next generation’s fastest, most thrilling rollercoaster experience the world has ever known.

Related Links:

bethany photos-173 copyJill Bennett, Director of Program Development at Engineering for Kids, joined the team in 2011.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies and Elementary Education from the University of Richmond in 2001.  She taught first and third grade in Henrico County, Virginia. During the 2005-2006 school year she was selected by colleagues as her school’s distinguished “Teacher of the Year”, which is awarded annually to one outstanding teacher.  In 2008, Jill earned a Master of Education in Instruction from the University of Virginia.  Currently, she balances her work at Engineering for Kids with lots and lots of playtime with her sons, who are four and two.

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