5 Simple Ways to Get Inspired About Life Again
It doesn’t have to be a life-changing moment.
The lockdown swiftly thwarted the pursuit of my goals. Instead of pursuing a job I wanted, I was stuck in one I didn’t want to do and struggled to get inspired about life. Inspiration can be hard to come by. It often comes in fleeting moments and is hard to nail down.
As a full-time creative, it’s almost impossible to know when moments like this will wash over me. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, struggled with this when drafting the manuscript, saying she would often look up at the ceiling and say: “I would please like the record to reflect today that I showed up for my part of the job.”
It sounds mad, but a lack of inspiration can genuinely have you arguing with the ceiling.
So, it’s hard to force inspiration on you. You can, however, manipulate the concept. As with anything, you can’t lay in motion waiting for things to happen. At times, especially ones as turbulent as these, everyone is in dire need of some inspiration. Here’s how you make it happen.
1. Visit the city you want to live in.
In September, my girlfriend and I took a trip to London. At the summit of our hotel was one of the city’s premier rooftop bars, so we decided to pay a visit. By this point, I was still in my old job, with no end in sight. That all changed in a moment.
After we paid an extortionate amount of money for some cocktails, we decided to look out at the skyline. My eyes darted around the city, going up the skyscrapers and far out across the river Thames. All of a sudden, some inspiration awoke within me.
I have long wanted to live there, but I’d been going off the idea. London is expensive, and when you’ve lived in a small town for most of your life, the prospect is quite daunting. That all changed. Looking out at the city reminded me of my goals, and reignited the determination to achieve them.
You know success won’t happen overnight, just as I know I won’t be moving to London for quite a while. Even so, nothing is stopping you from allowing your dreams to swell; dragging the inspiration along with them.
2. Write down your goals every day.
For the last month or so, I have been writing down my goal every day. On the face of it, that seems okay. On its own, it acts as a glimmer of inspiration. To heighten it, note the steps you’re going to take to get there.
It doesn’t need to be neat either. Your journal is a book containing your thoughts. Are your thoughts ever organised into bullet points? I doubt it. Mine tend to be all over the shop — my journal represents that. I also like to do it just before I go to sleep, as it locks away any disappointments of the day and prepares my brain for the morning.
A study by psychologist Gail Matthews from the Dominican University of California showed people were 33% more successful in achieving their goals when they wrote them down, compared to those who merely thought about them.
Moreover, neuroscience research teaches us that regularly writing down your goals leads to a process called encoding. As CEO of Leadership IQ and the author of “Hiring For Attitude” Mark Murphy explains:
“Encoding is the biological process by which the things we perceive travel to our brain’s hippocampus where they’re analysed. From there, decisions are made about what gets stored in our long-term memory and, in turn, what gets discarded.”
Writing your goals down doubles the “generation effect,” as you are generating the goal from your mind and then regenerating it on paper. So when you write something down, you have a better chance at solidifying it in your brain. It’s a win-win.
“Write your goals on paper and not in your mind. That makes the vision plain. Spend quality time with yourself and review your life.” ― Oscar Bimpong
3. Organise your process.
Your brain can squash an idea. By organising it, you turn an idea into a project. You then feel more power and control, as the doubtful voice in the back of your head gets easier to defeat. Consequently, you give your inspiration something to latch on to.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with Trello. As a full-time writer, I felt it necessary to begin organising my process a bit more. So, I have several columns:
- Working projects
- Submitted for review
- Rejected/Needs re-editing
It’s worked wonders. On Sunday night, as I prepared for a full day’s writing on Monday, I shifted several ideas into the working projects column. As I moved them, my mindset shifted. All of a sudden, my inspiration flared up. Waking up that morning, I felt a peculiar sense of preparation and determination.
I cleaned up my workspace, making room for inspiration in my mind. A study conducted by design, architecture, and planning firm HLW International LLP found employee productivity levels were “highly influenced” by the cleanliness of their workplace, as you can find whatever you need whenever you need it. Better still, WebMD states that taking the time to get organised can push you to work more energetically throughout the day. It is a no brainer.
Inspiration doesn’t need to come from looking at the stars or a life-changing moment. To achieve what you want, it needs to be more sustainable. Organising your endeavours is a simple way of giving power and control to yourself.
4. Allow yourself to shift into the past, present, and future.
When I was younger, I would imagine myself as a successful athlete, standing on a podium as I receive my medal. It was a lovely dream. It remained a dream — a thought cloud that quickly evaporated.
I didn’t try hard enough to realise my dream because I didn’t love the process enough. To test myself, I joined an athletics club when I was 16. I lasted about a month. I wasn’t prepared for the day in, day out grind. With writing, it’s different. Sure I have lofty goals, and I often dream about becoming wildly successful, but I wouldn’t be here writing this to you if I didn’t enjoy the process.
It’s not just the future, either. At times, it can be hazy. So drawing on previous failures can serve as inspiration for a better future, which in turn acts as inspiration for taking action now.
5. Do what you’re good at.
To get into a state of flow, you need to choose a difficult but not impossible task. As Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles write in their book ‘Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life’:
“We want to see challenges through to the end because we enjoy the feeling of pushing ourselves.”
I have a challenge of writing 5000 words a day, three days a week. It would be pretty useless if I randomly tried to become a tax auditor. I wouldn’t know what I was doing, feel disheartened and give up. Not very inspiring. Doing what you’re good at gives you a strong sense of accomplishment. You want to stretch your abilities, but not too much.
A lot of people spend too much time focusing on fixing their weaknesses, rather than improving their strengths. As written on Time:
“Strengths are the place where you can grow your best. Find the things that you can do all day that you really enjoy, and find excuses throughout your day to do more of that. Success builds on itself and this helps you build momentum.”
Auren Hoffman, the former CEO of LiveRamp, says instead of concentrating on your glaring weaknesses, focus “on what you are already naturally talented at. Go from good to great.” He’s spot on. By doing something you know you’re good at, you feel a sense of accomplishment, which you can then use to inspire even better work.
Merely thinking about the goal isn’t enough. By doing just one of the simple methods I have mentioned, you’re triggering your brain into action. You’re inspiring it to do more. Inspiration is often fleeting, which is what makes it so important. It can radically alter your life in several ways.
As with any emotion, however, you can exert some control over it. You’re capable of so much more than you think. Inspiration, like motivation, isn’t some elixir the most successful drink at 6 am to accomplish their goals. You can tame it. In doing so, you’re putting one step forward. Little by little, you’ll get there.