4 Expert Tricks for Maximizing Your Creativity
Most of us don’t have the luxury of spending our days being creative, and even people who do work in a creative field often seek new ways to express themselves. While we’re champions of the #iamcreative movement, many shy away from creativity all together, thinking their brain just doesn’t work that way. Get ready for everything you thought you knew about creativity to be turned on its head. Filmmaker Barnet Bain’s new book, The Book of Doing and Being ($16), will help you rediscover your creative side — or even just find it for the very first time. Intrigued, we chatted with him about tips and tricks for improving our creativity.
Creativity: Nature Versus Nurture
If you’re envious of friends who can paint or turn flower arranging into a profound art, and are convinced you weren’t born with any creative abilities, Bain has news for you. “Everyone is born with innate creative abilities,” he tells us. The problem is, people around us as kids or young adults sometimes squash our creative spirits. “Re-awakening our imaginations is a rebellious act,” Bain says. “Fortunately it’s in our power.” It’s never too late to rediscover the creative side of yourself.
Making Time to Be Creative
But how exactly do you discover your creative side? Luckily, Bain says it helps to get in touch with your emotional side. “Emotions are to the creative person what chisels are to sculptors,” he explains. “Learning to deeply feel emotions creates unfamiliar neural maps that open us to new experience.” Okay, so you carved out time in your schedule to get all emotional and inspired. Now what? “First, relax,” Bain says. “Turn your attention away from everything you’ve been thinking about and doing up to this point. Choose something completely arbitrary, plucking something from your immediate surroundings. This is a fun way to get get your juices flowing. Go to the eighth word on a random page of a magazine. What do you see? Dumpster? Filibuster? Drainpipe?” Focusing on something seemingly mundane just might make you think of it in an entirely new way.
Or, you can reach for Bain’s book. He has loads of creative exercises, which represent an outpouring of everything he’s learned about creativity through his 30 years of studying it. “I can’t claim every one of these tools as my own. I’ve learned from many fabulous teachers along the way, and have adapted and discovered a few tricks of my own,” he tells us. “Funny thing about the creative process: It’s a relationship. You begin by giving it everything, and before you know it, it is giving back to you too.”
Letting Go of Perfectionism
A tip for you Type-A personalities out there: There is no perfection in creativity. Bain says you have to let that go, and until you do, it can be a major roadblock. He knows this firsthand, because he’s dealt with it himself. “It’s something I picked up in childhood, when I longed for outside validation and approval, and learned to compare myself with others,” he says. Another roadblock he’s faced first-hand: procrastination. “I’m an artist of checking email, Facebook, the fridge. The voice of roadblocks can sound like this: I don’t have what it takes to get this done. Or Who am I to do this? Or I don’t have the right connections. Sound familiar? Don’t let thoughts like that get in your way.
How Creativity Changes Every Aspect of Your Life
The Book of Doing and Being not only shows how maximizing your creativity can transform your work, but also your relationships. Bain says the reason for this is because when you exercise being creative, you are actually rewiring your brain’s neural maps. “Creativity feeds new energy. We respond to everything with new and greater capacity,” he says. “That’s good news for life, love, and work.”
What are your tips for maximizing your creativity? Share them in the comments.
(Photo via Barnet Bain)
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com