Okay…..this post is a bit overdue.
Given that the central theme of my blog is inspiration, I thought it would make sense for me to talk a little bit more in depth about inspiration.
Why inspiration — what does it mean, why it’s valuable, and how to cultivate a relationship with it that consistently provides results rather than associating the word with a passive activity (something that will “come” to you with no work or effort required).
Let’s start with looking at different definitions of inspiration.
Inspiration is commonly defined as the following:
- The process of being mentally simulated to DO or FEEL something, especially something creative
- A sudden, brilliant, creative, or timely idea
- To inspire is to excite, encourage, or breathe life into
- Inspiration is the motivator in life
These definitions tell me two things: 1) that inspiration is process & action oriented, not simply a passive activity and 2) it’s hugely important — a central component to feeling fulfilled and motivated at any stage of life.
Why we struggle in life when we don’t feel inspired:
When we don’t feel motivated or inspired in life, it can be hard to function. It’s difficult to be grateful for what we do already have. It’s easier to spiral down into negative thought patterns, self-sabotaging behaviors, and so on.
Put simply, our mental health suffers without a sense of inspiration. And without our mental health, every other part of our health can suffer.
Can you, at this precise moment, answer the question, “what motivates you in life?” If so, are you proud and satisfied by your response? Or does it still leave you with feelings of dissatisfaction about your life?
And if at this present moment in time you struggle to answer, why is that? No single answer feels good enough? Or maybe you’re currently feeling like you’ve lost your inspiration due to some major life event or transition. This year has definitely given plenty of reasons for this to be the case.
A lack of inspiration can feel paralyzing.
A lack of inspiration can push us to find ways to either:
- Distract ourselves (TV binges, passive social media consumption, entering in relationships we know are unhealthy, etc.),
- Merely get by however we can — survive, not thrive
- Convince ourselves that the trajectory our life is on is what it has to be. We come to terms with that idea, and continue to trudge along falling short of our potential.
Why there’s value in making inspiration a process rather than a passive activity
What I’ve come to learn is that inspiration comes from doing. When you don’t know your direction is when you most need to start doing things — no matter how small the step, just make sure it’s in a positive direction.
Same goes for inspiration.
When you don’t know your direction is when you most need to start to define a process you can trust in that helps you rediscover or redefine your inspiration when you feel lost.
A process doesn’t require you to know the answers. It doesn’t put pressure on you to have things all figured out right now.
What it does, is helps you become adaptable and resilient, equipping you with tools to handle whatever life throws at you that makes you lose your ‘why’ in life.
A process keeps you from becoming paralyzed and feeling like what’s the point in life.
Ways to Fix a Lack of Inspiration
1. Make inspiration an ACTIVE activity. It’s about DOING not waiting.
When you feel uninspired, go for a walk. Talk to someone. Take time to cook a meal. Write. Paint. Learn something and take notes. Start a side project.
Do things that you enjoy, or experiment in finding new things that you might enjoy, that mentally stimulate you, that make you feel aligned with what you love, and who you want to be.
Through the process of acting, inspiration flows.
2. Focus on small, consistent actions and stick to them with discipline.
Treat inspiration like a habit.
Once you identify actions that tend to help you remain in touch with your inspiration (think: regular actions that consistently produce positive feelings for you. For me, writing, reading, podcasts, time in nature, and interacting with other like minded people) remain consistent with them, even if it’s just a little bit each day.
It sounds counterintuitive, but some of the moments where I’ve found most inspiration are in the mundane, consistent actions of every day. When I’m not trying to find inspiration or feel inspired, but when I’m relying on the activities that I know have helped me get there in the past. Relying on the process. And actively doing things.
So when you start to feel uninspired, down about life, or stuck when tackling a problem or particular pursuit, go back to the small acts that have helped you in the past or make an effort to discover new ones.
3. Don’t confuse distractions with actions that will lead to fulfillment.
Inspiration may be an active process, but be careful of actions that are really distractions.
Distractions help you ignore and avoid the true source of the problem, pushing the reason(s) for your lack of motivation or inspiration deeper down.
Avoiding distractions requires honesty with yourself, self-awareness, and taking ownership of the situation and what’s in your control.
When it comes down to it, though inspiration is often phrased as a sudden, out-of-nowhere occurrence, its really the product of a set of regular actions with delayed gratification.
For this reason, it’s best to look at inspiration as a habit – something that must be worked on consistently through small actions carried out with consistency and discipline.
Though these actions may not seem like they result in much, when the moments of inspiration finally arrive, it’s proof that they do.
Inspiration comes from action. Trust in that, be willing to be honest with yourself and reflect about what’s truly important to you in life, and you’ll be equipped with the tools to get in touch with your inspiration whenever you need it.