I think it fitting to start my first blog on how to be and stay inspired, as this is something that I struggle with. Hence this article by Jonathan Mead a limit-breaking coach, martial artist and trafficker of truth. He writes about self development and living on your own terms at Illuminated Mind.
“Inspiration is typically viewed as something that comes and goes. Some days you “feel it” more than others.
But what if you could be deeply and unconditionally inspired everyday? I bet it would make a difference in the quality of your life. You would probably wake up excited to start your day. You’d get more done, be more creative and feel more of that elusive “flow.” Being inspired also means enjoying the process more, instead of feeling forced and unnatural.
The best part of persistent inspiration is that action tends to be effortless. There isn’t so much trying, rather you’re more simply being and allowing whatever action is natural to flow out from you.
Most of us just wait for inspiration though. We passively anticipate our muse, instead of actively seeking it out.
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.“
I’ve been experimenting with something different for a while, purposefully taking responsibility for being inspired. For a while I didn’t know if it would work. Inspiration is kind of an elusive phenomenon after all. And even if you choose to look for inspiration, does that mean it will come?
The answer is yes, and no.
Actively creating an inspired state doesn’t work 100% of the time. Sometimes instead you will feel calm, centered and relaxed instead of being filled with electric motivation. And that’s okay.
Here’s the thing though: deliberately choosing to be inspired tends to create a more consistent inspired state over time. That is, the more you flip the switch, the more it becomes automatic and spontaneous.
So the question is… How can you reinforce inspiration, so that it becomes automatic?
I’ve found a few ways to helps this along:
1. Eat inspiration for breakfast.
Who are some of the people that inspire you or have influenced your work? Who do you want to be like, who are some of your mentors? Take some time in the morning to read something they’ve written, or watch a video they’ve created.
2. Reflect on your reasons why.
We should all have deeply emotional reasons behind the goals we set (if you don’t, they might be the wrong goals). Reviewing the reasons behind our intentions help us to remember why we’re doing what we’re doing. Without that purpose, it can be hard to stay inspired.
3. Discard unwanted commitments.
We often say yes to too much. It’s much harder to deliberately choose our projects than to blindly accept whatever comes our way. Regularly reviewing your commitments to make sure that you’re only working on things that truly excite you is essential to being inspired. You can’t expect to be excited about things you didn’t consciously choose or desire.
4. Create an inspiring physical space.
What is it that you truly love to do? What gets your energy flowing and your blood rushing? Surround your physical space in things that will remind you of and reinforce your passion. If art is your passion, make sure your surroundings reflect that. Put up pictures from your favorite artists. Have an easel nearby with paint ready. If your passion is architecture, surround your space with pictures of your favorite buildings, or structures. Let your space be a constant inspirational reinforcement. It only takes a few hours to setup at the most, and after that it’s constantly working for you on autopilot.
5. Surround yourself with inspiring people.
The people you socialize and engage with will have a big impact on your level of inspiration. Choose to be selective about the people you let into your life, and what type of energy they bring to your circle of influence. You can start by following inspiring people on Twitter or keeping in touch with the work of leaders and innovators you admire.
6. Challenge yourself.
The more you move in the direction of things that challenge and make you a bit nervous, the more likely you will find inspiration. You can’t expect to be inspired by doing the same thing every day, following the same routine, working at the same boring job, watching the same boring television shows. You have to decide to follow your passions, engage in the world and choose paths that might make you feel a bit uncomfortable.
7. Create space.
Probably the most neglected of all ways to find inspiration is the most counterintuitive. Sometimes to be inspired, we have to step away… we have to create space and room for our passions to breathe. Spending time hiking and in nature is my favorite way to do this. It’s in the gaps that beauty is found. It’s the empty space that makes a cup useful.
These are all great ways to cultivate a more inspired life, but I think perhaps the most important thing to focus on is the feeling you want to create.
Feeling first, then action
Most of the time we look for the feeling we want to have from or as a result of the action we’re taking. We seek to feel a certain way through the pursuits we engage in. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this approach, it’s just that it can often lead to misjudgment on what goals are truly right for us.
On the other hand, if we focus on what we want to feel first – enjoyment, creativity, connection, excitement, etc. – then we set ourselves up for naturally engaging in action that supports those feelings. Our actions become a reflection of the way we feel, not the other way around.
Inspiration is a choice
Cultivating a life of sustainable inspiration is something that I’m working toward each day. I’m too impatient to wait around for inspiration to fall on my lap, or into my head.
I don’t think living an inspired life happens by accident.
I think inspiration is a choice.”
Live purposefully. Give gratefully. Laugh frequently. Love unconditionally. – Audria